Mother Nature's Daughter's

There they were: four daughters. Wrapped in the silk sheets of the clouds where their mother lives, the mother of Earth.

The eldest daughter, born with golden hair and rosy cheeks on peachy porcelain skin, eyes a lively blue, smiled and laughed.

The second daughter, born with flaming hair, tanned olive skin and vibrant green eyes twirled and danced.

The third daughter born with deep brown hair and chocolate skin, her eyes a peaceful amber sang and gibbered.

The last daughter was born with white skin, robbed of color by her sisters, her hair a drab black, its shimmer taken by her sisters, and her eyes a dull gray, their life stolen by her sisters.

And so her mother shunned her, her three other daughters praised and growing ever more beautiful, their hearts warmed with their mother's love, and the last daughter's heart grew cold.

Once they came of age, a spirit from the earth came to bestow gifts and duties to the children, and to present them with their names.

To the first daughter she gave the gift of life; she gave her seed pouch. To this daughter she gave the name Spring, and she was to come and give life to the earth and animals once each year.

The second daughter was given the gift of warmth; she was given a ball of light. To this daughter she gave the name Summer, and she was to come and bring warmth and light to the earth and animals each year.

To the third child, the spirit gave a silver pail of water, and the gift of harvest. She bestowed upon this girl the name Autumn, and she was to bring rains and a ripe harvest to the earth and animals each year. The three sisters thanked the spirit and were grateful for their gifts and tasks.

When the spirit turned to the fourth sister, the girl shrank back and turned away from the spirit. The spirit was worried, but approached the girl. With the child's back still turned to her, she offered the girl the gift of peace and tranquility, and set a glass globe full of ice crystals at her feet. She gave the girl the name Winter, and she was given the task of bringing peace and tranquility to the earth and animals each year.

With that, the girl wept, and the spirit left. The tears from the girl's eyes fell like snow flakes and the earth was calm and frosty, the first frost, and the girl sunk to the earth and stayed like that in a lonely cave, her frosty wrath and anger freezing over the earth like her cold heart.

Many months passed and she still stayed there, her own command overpowering her as she started to freeze, her bones and blood hardening and chilling. The earth spirit that had visited and given the gifts appeared and gave Winter a second gift: the gift of joy.

This was a very special gift, for it could only be used once a year.

Afraid and ill, Winter opened the jeweled box and released joy to the earth. The snow shimmered brightly, and a silver star shined in the eastern sky. Winter smiled and wept, a new layer of soft fresh snow covered the ice, and bells rang in the distance. Winter's three sisters appeared, and she rejoiced. The ache for her sisters gone. Overjoyed with their reunion, each sister presented a gift to Winter. Spring gave Winter a lock of her golden hair; golden garland. Summer gave her a piece of her green cloak; ivy. Autumn gave Winter a piece of her dress; holly.

Then, their mother appeared and presented Winter with the first candle, a silver stick of the finest wax with a flame afire on the white wick. Winter smiled again and thanked her sisters, giving them a promise that she would never freeze the earth again and told them that she would always love them.

Some time passed, and Winter was happy, her black hair shimmered and gray eyes were like the frosty sea, but it didn't last; the morning of the vernal sun, Winter vanished from the earth, her sister Spring taking the reins for her leg of the year.