Lessons of Life

The Love of One’s Life

by Elwing-(V)
May 1, 2008

Legolas stretched out on the luxurious patch of grass, stroking at the long blades as he would a pet. Intermittent breezes created ripples in the green growth, the rebounding slender shoots making counter-ripples in an endless ever-changing pattern. The grass itself had a sheen so that its color appeared to switch to either golden or silvery, or somehow both, as it swayed in the wind. With the addition of dappled sunlight through the leaves of the overhanging branches, a fascinating spectacle was produced for the elf’s appreciation.  

Tiger and leopard both, it prowls silently around me. Reflexively, he glanced at his nearby discarded weapons, though he knew he would have no need of them against his ‘stalker’. He sensed the trees' amusement at his thoughts as well as their happiness at his relaxed presence. The rarity of a period such as currently experienced - a recession of the evil forces that had given the Greenwood its current common name of ‘Mirkwood’ - was enjoyed to fullest advantage by every Wood-elf that claimed the forest as home, and Prince Legolas was no exception. He had concluded a pleasant trade meeting with the people of Laketown the previous day and stayed most of the night for their celebrations. Having made his farewells as the festivities waned, the elf quietly departed before dawn, wishing to privately view his beloved stars before they disappeared in the light of sunrise. After that, the promising signs of a fine summer day craving his well-deserved attention decided him to delay the return to his palace home.

He had spent morning into early afternoon by clambering in the trees like a squirrel; here at the forest edge, the undergrowth thinned and the climbing sun’s rays penetrated more strongly past the leafy branches above, though still hazy near the ground. In that wavering optical mist, forest creatures felt reasonably safe as they ghosted about on their forays. Many now had young ones in tow, and Legolas loved watching the curious creatures in their first exuberant explorations of their world. The trees themselves held within their boughs a goodly number of bird nests, many already abandoned, yet some previously vacated would be reused for another brooding and, in anticipation of that event, birdsong filled the air in a grand variety of whistles, trills and chatter.  

The prince, so deeply attuned to all music, could barely restrain himself from the temptation to imitate some of the most intriguing that he heard. Nay, I should not risk a confrontation with a male thinking me a rival to his territory or suitorship…or worse, disgruntle a female expecting to pair with a potential mate and discovering her singing attractor to be naught but a lowly Elf instead.  

As the day progressed, the sounds of the birds quieted, replaced by chirps and clicks of crickets and the low hum of bees seeking the nectar of summer flowers. Elves were created tolerant of temperature extremes, so the increasing heat was not uncomfortable to the prince; nevertheless, his outer tunic and boots soon found a place beside his bow and quiver. Settling again to enjoy the breeze ruffling his hair while the grass tickled across the soles of his feet, Legolas recalled a question he had been recently asked: “What would you say is your favorite season of the year?” He had a ready, if enigmatic, answer for that: “Whichever is the one I am currently experiencing.”  

In spring, it was his favorite for the explosion of blooms, turning the landscape into a pastel paradise, with the occasional breathtaking shock of darker color. The air was redolent with varieties of perfumes, and nearly vibrating with the buzz of bees positively frantic to gather the abundant nectar and pollen offered. Following in the bees’ wake, every elleth of the woodland realm darted hither and thither, collecting baskets of blooms; these were soon deftly woven into long garlands that ‘sprouted’ in every possible place they could be draped. Smaller strands were braided into silken tresses, including those of any ellon that could be made to stay still long enough for the ‘decorating’. Many an elf exhibits a daily transition of hair style and scent during the spring time. Legolas snickered at envisioning a few of the more exotic versions he had endured when ambushed by some enthusiastic female.

In autumn, it was his favorite for a different color explosion: rich, deep colors in the trees in hues of reds and golds, with some few remaining ever green. As the falling leaves colorfully carpeted the ground, so too did they provide a special Elven game; the fair folk, able to tread silently if need be among the dry discards, delighted to gather great, leafy piles and then fling one's self (or one's friend) into their midst…contests were often held to see which elf could crunch the brittle stuff the loudest, or who could scatter them farthest. Between such frolics, the many fruits now ripened from the spring pollinations were gathered gleefully for current and future consumption. A sterner side to the autumn harvest was the hunt - a successful one insured extra provisions for the typically lean winter coming. All of an Elf’s senses were at peak performance during a hunt. Nothing quite brings to notice the minute detail of one’s surroundings as the tracking of one’s prey. 'Tis a strange sensation, the ‘thrill’ of the hunt; it gives not joy truly, but great satisfaction in a task well and swiftly done.  

In winter, it was his favorite not so much for color, though the sky could be fiercely blue, and the remaining green trees were a stark and striking contrast to the pristine white of blanketing snow. Rather the prince cherished the season’s mood, one conducive to intimate group gatherings and more profound meditations among them. Most trees withdrew their spirits inward at the onset of the winter season and therefore suffered no ill effects of having outer ‘dead’ portions removed to light Elven home fires. Again, as with heat, all but extreme cold did not bother Elves, yet even they appreciated the pleasantry of a warm hearth during chill weather, and it was mesmerizing to watch the carefully tended flames. Brilliantly do they portray the last remembered colors of the trees whose limbs they consume, dancing tireless till the last ember fades against the ashes.

Legolas stretched and reached for his waterskin. This season is warming enough of itself - the only fires one needs now are for cooking or smithing. Taking a long draught, he made a mental note to refill the container before starting the last steps of his meandering journey. To a thirsty body, there is no sweeter taste than of clean, cool water - not even Ada’s finest wine can surpass it. Thinking of the wine brought to mind the upcoming celebration of Summer Solstice: an honoring of the longest day of the year. The Wood-elves’ feast and festival would begin the night before that day and continue through the night following it. The prince licked his lips just imagining the culinary marvels that the palace cooks would prepare and present. With some difficulty, he cautioned himself against overindulging such visions, lest they later provoke him into pestering those same cooks to their wits' end, mayhap even to the point of banning him from the pre-feast taste testings. Flipping over to lie on his stomach, the elf fixed his gaze and thoughts on the thicket of trees before him.

Anew he was struck by the grandness of those creations, with their many varieties of size and shape…and greenness. This season is my own…that of the Greenleaf. The hues were many: bright and intense, light and golden, shaded and grayed; some were of solid blue tint while others had edges of deep red. It could be said that a majority of the trees were crowned with (aptly named) ‘forest’ green; yet subtleties were found even in that, mainly caused by the textures of the leaves so colored. Legolas noted each detail, his blue eyes sparkling in adoration.

One leaf type was wide, with a green topside contrasting to its almost furry gray underside. One was so shiny as to seem perpetually wet, and of so rich a green as to look black at first glance. Another was tiny and nearly translucent, so that a stalk of it shone like flecks of gold in direct sunlight. Some leaves clung close to the branch, reminding Legolas of snake scales; others drooped long and thin, as if the tree had sprouted hair; still other plumes of leaves radiated stiffly outward from central spots, giving a remarkable rendition of Mithrandir’s fireworks - explosions of green glittering frozen in midair. And so many more…one could fill a library just with the catalog of leaves alone; if one were to add in the body - trunk and bark and bough - of all the trees, plus any flower and fruit…why, it would surely take to the end of all Time to be finished, if then!  

The prince continued to gaze enraptured on the individuals that comprised his beloved forest: some were straight and tall, others gnarled and wide; that one rough, another smooth as glass… nearly as varied as the leaves were the woods, ranging from deep sepia to rosy rust and creamy beige. Even here green existed, as some trunks had lichen patches and mossy streaks. As many seasons as Legolas had lived, he never tired of the spectacle of his trees; but even so, he sometimes wished to travel afar and encounter new ones in new lands. As such occurred to him now, the elf sensed a sorrowing flutter on the breeze. Instantly contrite, he reassured his fretful companions. “Ah, no, my dear ones…I am not discontent with you! If ever I leave, I shall not away long; indeed, I might wear out my welcome swiftly when I regale those I meet with tales of such beauty and glory of my homeland - the listeners may be so stricken with envy they shall banish me forthwith for their meager prides’ sake.”  

If trees could blush, they would have done so at such praise; instead, they gently chastised their prince for his exaggeration, although they and he both knew there was truth at the core of his flattery. The Firstborn and all good growing things had a special rapport - as the fair folk nurtured the land, so did Arda in return nurture the Elves, each giving life to the other. Even had I the Valar’s power, I should not make any change in this matter…such a bond is clearly bestowed of the One’s highest grace and love. That consideration brought to mind another query Legolas had received of late: “What would you say is the ‘great love of your life’? Have you found that yet?” The elf had not a ready answer at the time, but promised to try and have one for when next he and his curious friend met. Legolas had puzzled over a response whenever the question came to mind after that, for the prince had experienced several kinds of love, and hoped for certain others eventually. All are precious…how might a person choose a particular to elevate above the rest? The love of one’s family - parents, siblings, mate, children; the love of close friends; even the love of nature…

Now the Prince smiled widely, for his answer was right before him. I have discovered rather than ‘found’ it, for it has been always with me. The great love of my life is exactly that - the love of…my life and all it encompasses. Legolas rolled onto his back with a sigh of utter contentment, easing into reverie while he waited for the stars to make their appearance once again. The happy glow of the elf’s features and spirit rivaled that of the setting sun.

The End

Happy Arda Day!