Saturday, August 4, 2007

First Flush of Love

The sun shines on the river and lights up the whispers of spider webs intricately woven into the branches. The kite sits high above the river preening then shoots off on a wild adventure, swooping low overhead. Fantails dance in and out of the bushes, ravens caw, while the delicious yet ear-piercing song of the pied butcherbirds rings out over the treetops. The voice of the whipbird lashes the air. The river shimmers with the sight and sound of birds and my heart soars.

On this day eveything feels alive, somehow heightened, radiant in the first flush of spring. The seasons are turning. Gone is the cool underpinning of winter (not that it was ever really cold here). Now the heat of summer is emerging from its dormancy but happily not quite yet. In this first flush of shimmering warmth, as the breath of the river rises above the water, there is a reminder of the first flush of love.

Writer Jefferson Flanders (2006-2007) puts it this way: 'First Love. Ah, first love! That crazy, intoxicating feeling of being infatuated by another--totally lost, drawn magnetically to the object of your desire--for the first time.'

Flanders is writing about the tender 19th century novella by Ivan Turgenev, First Love . It tells the story of 16 year old Vladimir Petrovich who is captivated by the lovely Princess Zinaïda Alexandrovna. When he first sees her, his heart spins with ecstatic delight and an encroaching sense of love madness:

'I was going to bed, I rotated—I don’t know why—three times on one leg, pomaded my hair, got into bed, and slept like a top all night. Before morning I woke up for an instant, raised my head, looked round me in ecstasy, and fell asleep again.'

Later when he finally meets the princess he describes his heady feeling as being 'as happy as a fish in water'.

Walking by the river, as the warmth pervades the valley, I too feel that first flush of love. River Love. Just like Vladimir.

'Oh, sweet emotions, gentle harmony, goodness and peace of the softened heart, melting bliss of the first raptures of love, where are they, where are they?'

Read it and remember.