By Peggy Strait, a member of Get Your WordsWorth
I woke up from a dream with three scenes vividly imprinted on my mind.
First scene: I was a young girl standing by a slender young willow tree. I was looking at the stream flowing by. The water touched my bare feet. I could see the stones at the bottom of the stream. It was early spring.
Second scene: I was a young mother holding the hands of my three-year-old first-born son. We were standing in front of a large rose-bush bursting with red roses in full bloom. My husband, Roger, was taking our picture. He said, “Smile,” and we obliged with big grins. It was a warm summer day.
Third scene: I was in my late forties, my age at the time of the dream. My brothers, sisters and I were at the house where we grew up. I was looking out the window at a tree that was remarkable in that only one branch had leaves and they were large maple tree leaves. I said, “Look at the leaves on that tree!”
On hearing the dream, Roger said to me, “The meaning of the dream is quite clear. The three scenes represent the three stages of your life. The first scene is your roots and early childhood in China. Your feet in the stream indicate the continuing influence of those roots on your life. The second scene is your young adult life as a wife and mother, the rose-bush in full bloom. The third scene shows that the third stage of your life is just emerging. The tree has only a few leaves now, but will become the glorious golden maple tree.
I listened and thought, “Roger has the most wonderful way of interpreting dreams.”
In the years that followed, Roger’s interpretation of my dream came to mind again and again. With the completion of each major project, and celebration of each major event, such as the publication of my first book, the favorable settlement of a lawsuit against our co-op for which I had done much of the legal research, the completion of the restoration and renovation of our country house for which I had designed and agonized over every detail, and the births of each of my grandchildren, I gained confidence and contentment in my person and felt that a new leaf had appeared on that maple tree. By the time I was in my sixties, I truly felt that my whole life could and would be interpreted in terms of those three stages in my dream.
Then, one bitterly cold winter day when I was in my early seventies, I took a bus ride down Fifth Avenue from my apartment on 108th Street to my doctor’s office on 60th Street. I sat by a window and looked out into Central Park. There had been a heavy snowstorm the day before, followed by a freezing rain that turned some snow to ice. I saw that the ground was covered with snow and the bare branches of many trees were bent down, heavy with ice. My attention was especially drawn to those trees as I rode the forty-eight blocks down Fifth Avenue along Central Park. How beautiful they were even though they were stripped of their leaves, bent and broken, encased in ice and snow and suffered the life threatening destruction of the winter storm. The scene was bleak but, in spite of its bleakness, serene, and exquisitely beautiful.
Then suddenly, as though I had just woken from a dream, I understood that my earlier dream of three scenes defining my life was incomplete; that there was one more, a fourth scene, to symbolize the stages of my life; and that was the scene now before me, of ice and snow, and of trees that had endured the ravages of a winter storm.
I looked out at this scene, and I heard playing in my mind the music Vivaldi composed for the segment he called ” winter” in his composition of the Four Seasons. It is the most exquisitely beautiful of Vivaldi’s music, more beautiful, even, than his “spring”, “summer”, and “fall”.
Then, I thought, I must not despair of the coming of winter, because in the winter of my life, as in Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, there may be a beauty, even more exquisite, than the beauty in my spring, summer and fall. I pray that will be true.
– Peggy Strait is a widow, mother, grandmother, professor emerita of mathematics, and since joining “Writing From Life Experience” has broadened her interest in arranging numbers to include an interest in arranging words.