Lea's Story: Dawn on the Bayou
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If you ask anyone, they will tell you that Dawn lives in the East. But there’s a secret only the Bayou Souls know…. When she isn’t painting sunrises over Texas…Dawn lives on the bayou.
There are special places all over the world, but Dawn loves the landscapes where morning brings hints of gold to the greens and the blues ofthe earth. She bathes small islands with golden light and tints the mountain snows pink. Deep in the Louisiana bayous, Dawn frolics among the cypress trees. Tightly woven canopies hide her light just long enough that it seems she arrives with the birdsong. But of all the beautiful places on Earth, Dawn loves the enormous Texas skyline and the way the Texas air accentuates her pinks, oranges and purples.
With the star, she wore a purple cloak sprinkled with the fading stars of night. As she galloped morning along on her winged horse, the cloak fluttered open. Beneath its folds, swirls of dawn’s pinks, oranges and purples escaped out across the sky. They swirled in the wind and streaked across the clouds. The horse was called Rosèe du Matin because she carried the tears of hearts touched by the beauty of the world. These tears fell to the Earth as morning dew, making the ground sparkle like the fading stars.
For many years she lived in the heart of the old world. The old rivers, mountains and lush green fields were painted with brushstrokes of her golden light. She favored the region’s peoples for their creativity and joy of living. They showered her with love, honoring her in stories and song. They called her Jitrènka, their Morning Star.
She wore the Morning star in her hair. It was the only star left to bid Àdieu to the moon and Bonjour to the sun. Reflecting light from both, the star doesn’t fade like its companions but heralds day’s return. In the early morning time between dark and light, she protected thepeople who loved her. Her morning star gave them hope by the promise of a new day.
For many years Jitrênka was content to live among the mountains and fields. But, as the old world became crowded and some of the peoplesought space in a new world, she decided to head west. They travelled in ships over many months before landing in a place called Texas. In this wide, open place, the sky seemed to lead to forever. Nowhere had she seen a more perfect canvas for the colors of morning.. She decided to stay.
It wasn’t long after she arrived, an artist traveled to Texas to find her. He had taken a different route than those that came with morning. Born in France, he grew up among the sweet flowers and green fields. From his grandfather he was given the secret of the mulberry trees and the silk moths living among them. He carried this knowledge to America then to Louisiana and the bayous he came to love.
He painted and dyed the silk with colors more beautiful than any seen before. Here, the bayou created his palette. Wild indigo and Louisiana iris offered blues. Mulberry and blackberry provided shades of purple. Yellows, oranges and reds he found in the barks of sycamore, sassafras and willow. The morning brought shades he had not seen before. Each day, he found new inspiration and was happy in his bayou home.
In a cabin on the bayou, he raised sparkling white moths. Their caterpillars ate only leaves of white mulberry trees, which he planted around the cabin. The cocoons held the secret by which the man made his living. The man unraveled the little bundles into beautiful threads of silk. The cloth woven from the threads was luxurious and the people of the area came from all over to buy the cloth. It was a bitof their old world in the new.
One early winter, a western traveler came to see the amazing colors made by the man. The traveler remarked that the man should go to Texas. He said that a morning sky in Texas was more beautiful than a song.
Since the man had a surplus of cloth and nothing to hold him; he decided to travel west to see it for himself. He packed his things in a long pirogue and paddled his way across Louisiana then as far as the rivers carried him into Texas. From there he went on foot until there was nothing between him and the horizon. He unpacked his things and waited for the dawn.
Night settled around him. He sat and watched the star-filled heavens. Quiet sounds of little creatures soothed him as he watched shooting stars hide among those fixed in space. Soon he slept. Colors he didn’t recognize filled his dreams. They shimmered and parted for abeautiful woman. She smiled and reached her hand out to him. He reached for hers and heard her laughter in his heart. The colors faded as she disappeared. He was awake. A breeze cooled him as he remembered where he was. Above him, the moon dimmed as one star still shone over the horizon. The star moved closer as he watched.
He wanted to make a cloth with colors as beautiful as that of the Texas morning sky. He knew only threads of silk could hold the amazing colors he had seen. For weeks he worked tirelessly mixing colors and dying the threads. None came close to those of the Texas sunrise. The silt-filled water of the bayou made colors more of the earth than the sky. Rainwater made colors too light and seawater made them too dark. He was running out of ideas.
Night’s blues and purples became faded denim in the brightening shades of morning. The vast Texas horizon was awash with shades and hues he had never imagined. His heart was deeply touched by the beauty and it brought tears to his eyes. These tears fell to earth mixing with the morning dew. There he sat in that Texas field until the sun was high in the sky and the dawn colors had settled into midmorning. There he sat for the next week until he felt he had absorbed every hue into his heart and soul. Then he packed up to return to Louisiana and the bayou he loved.
One late summer morning, in the light of the morning star, he sat preparing the indigo and pondering the problem. Small pieces of the plant fell into the grass. Looking down, he saw droplets of the most beautiful blue covering the grass around him. He thought his eyes must be seeing the color in his dreams. But then it dawned on him what he was seeing. The dew had transformed the indigo into the blue of the Texas sky. Before the ground could dry, he used all the dew he could gather to mix the other colors.
Each matched the colors of his memory and excitedly he began to paint the silk. When he finished, it was the most beautiful cloth the bayou had ever seen. The silk was pink and orange, rose-red and violet, purple and blue. It sparkled and changed as the sunlight played upon it. It was as if dawn had brushed against the cloth leaving a little of her colors behind.
She crept up to the cabin of the man so as not to wake him. She looked around and approved of the careful manner he kept his home.. Among neat piles of silken rainbows, she found the sunrise cloth tenderly placed on a shelf. As she picked it up, its colors unfolded into a nearly perfect replica of a Texas sunrise. She began to cry as she thought of his talent and at the beautiful compliment he had paid her.
As she traveled the Earth, Morning Star heard about the man and his cloth. She decided to travel to the Louisiana bayou to see the cloth and its artist herself. One early fall morning, the brown bayou water became pinkish gold as she moved quietly through the cypress. Thebreeze accompanying her carried along the scents of mimosa and honeysuckle..
The man heard soft rustlings and woke to see the beautiful woman of his Texas dream. Wanting to comfort her but afraid the dream would end, he held his hand out to her. She placed hers in his and each of their hearts heard the other’s laughter. She knew that this was the one in whose heart she’d always exist. So, she stayed with him in the little bayou cabin.
They were happy then and happier still as each of their children were born, grew and had children of their own. Each generation was more beautiful, talented and courageous than the last. They live wherever the mornings are brightest bringing courage and beauty to those that live among them. They are a reminder to the world, there is always a new day. Just look for the morning star.
Still looking for Dawn? Well, If you don’t find her painting a Texas sunrise, look for her back at home with the man…on the bayou.
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