Trail Tales

A Time Remembered

[May 2019 | San Juan Silver Stage | By Ken Reyher]

A long time ago in a land etched deeply by the scars of war, a handful of soldiers would visit a nearby orphanage on Sunday afternoons. There, for a few hours, they forgot who they were, and became playmates and older brothers to the children. The games they played pulsed with life and laughter. But there was one in their number who always stood a distance away and watched silently. His thought had given refuge to dark memories and faces of friends he would never see again.

Then one day, a little orphan girl came to him and taking his finger in her hand, led him to a nearby garden. There she reached down, gently touched the closest flower and looked up at the soldier, a smile of invitation lighting her face. Again she ran her hand across the petals, simultaneously tugging at the finger she held, pulling it downwards towards the dark earth. Finally, her companion knelt beside her and carefully brushed his own hand where hers had been moments before. The little girl’s smile grew brighter. After that, he came often and they visited the garden many times. He called her his Queen of Flowers and together they methodically examined whichever bloom struck their fancy. Never did the child pick even one, instead, cupped gently in her hands, she rocked it back and forth much as a breeze might have done.

Time passed and finally the soldier went home. Years went by and memories faded . . . except for one. In summer when echoes of those earlier times passed through his dreams, the one-time soldier would climb a nearby mountain and kneel among the columbines and the gilia that grew there. Washed in the perfume of breeze and bloom, he would return to his Queen of Flowers and remember two tiny hands that had once cradled the beauty of the earth and still had room to hold his own heart, as well.