Mr Rochester: "I wondered what you thought of me - or if you ever thought of me: to find this out, I resumed my notice of you. There was something glad in your glance, and genial in your manner, when you conversed: I saw you had a social heart; it was the silent school-room - it was the tedium of your life - that made you mournful. I permitted myself the delight of being kind to you; kindness stirred emotion soon: your face became soft in expression, your tones gentle: I liked my name pronounced by your lips in a grateful happy accent. I used to enjoy a chance meeting with you, Jane, at this time: there was a curious hesitation in your manner: you glanced at me with a slight trouble - a hovering doubt: you did not know what my caprice might be - whether I was going to play the master and be stern, or the friend and be benignant. I was now too fond of you often to simulate the first whim; and, when I stretched my hand out cordially, such bloom and light and bliss rose to your young, wistful features, I had much ado often to avoid straining you then and there to my heart."
Jane: "Don't talk any more of those days, sir," I interrupted, furtively dashing away some tears from my eyes...
~ From Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Last year, at the very frayed edge of winter, when patches of muddy ground were just appearing and I wasn't quite sure whether it was wishful thinking or gloriously true that the buds on the willow tree were swelling - it was then that we were blessed with a fresh layer of spring snow. Craving everything light and bright and longing for a restorative vision of hope, I called my friend to see if she could come over to 'play bride' for my camera. I pulled my, now, 'old fashioned' wedding dress from the closet and draped my sitting room in a sheer and gauzy white. I ran to the florist for a pretty bouquet and, then, at the last minute, wandered out into the ravaged, winter weary world to scavenge a wreath for her hair out of the dubiously budding willow branches. There was just a hint of relative warmth from the sun swirling with the fresh, chill air and I felt a welling up of joy from the sound of the chickadees' notes. It was the first time I had heard their spring song: a gentle 'fee-bee'! I sloshed back inside, braiding the branches of willow as I went, and began to vaguely hear another refrain - a different sort of bird song in my inner ear - a passionate violin - swooping, soaring and trilling - floating up with a song in its heart and then dipping and diving down again. The floating music - persistent - stayed with me throughout the whole of that dreamy afternoon.
A story was coming to me and it wasn't until after my friend left that I could turn my attention to it. Surely, there it had been in front of me - a Victorian, country bride wearing a crown made out of willow! The language of flowers was so clear: Hope circled with grief - a budding, blossoming bride - strong and pure - quiet and reflective - hopeful but with dark clouds of sorrow gathering over her.... why, Jane Eyre, of course!! The young girl, demure and contemplative and so seemingly impassive - escaping from her cold and harshly barren upbringing into a tentative new life... her strong moral surety, a cloak wrapped protectively around her! Inside of this 'mere reed of a frame' were the glowing virtues of goodness and uprightness that would surely - surely - overtake her winter. Surely, her steadfastness would finally lead her through to a genuine thaw - to the bounding joy of a true spring, blooming with love and passion... a fullness of soul! ...but, for now, her hope - only a soft and muted hint of awakening - barely perceptible - a possible mere illusion - a trick of the mind... quiet and contained - sleeping and still in its fragile shell...
"I see at intervals the glance of a curious sort of bird through the close-set bars of a cage: a vivid, restless, resolute captive is there; were it but free, it would soar cloud-high."
I dreamed of Jane Eyre all spring - reading the book over and over again - and, by the time the lilacs were budding, I had baked her wedding cake.... Some of the results of my daydream are contained here in this collection of photos.
"After a season of darkness and struggling, light broke and relief fell: my cramped existence all at once spread out to a plain without bounds - my powers heard a call from heaven to rise, gather their full strength, spread their wings, and mount beyond ken."