The Old Woman's cabin was at first survey a rather cramped little place, but somehow it grew larger the longer you were in it. The place was tidy in a somewhat overstuffed kind of way. There were thousands of treasures tucked into every nook and cranny, feathers and furs, candles and crocks, books and brass bells, paintings and papers - papers piled and placed everywhere, notes, letters, newspaper clippings, all organized in some unrecognizable plan. But laced through all of this collection of this and that, one common element, everywhere there were placed tiny bouquets of a delicate white flower with the tiniest of blooms, much like that Baby's Breath you see as almost an afterthought in deliveries of roses.
One corner of the cabin was made of grey flagstone, an unusually placed fireplace that fanned into the room. Nearby two wooden rockers, rough hewn, as if crafted out of twisted tree branches. On each rocker, a quilt had been folded, the quilts quite tinted with age, but you could tell that they had been created out of patience and love, keepsakes from an other time, I assumed. There was a table with three chairs, on the table, a Mason jar held a sheaf of wheat straw, tied together with red ribbon. There was a low lying bed, not that much more than a cot. It was covered in layers with quilt after quilt, much like the quilts on the rockers, except smaller and seemingly less treasured.
And there was the Old Woman, the Willow Woman, a rather sturdy looking figure considering her age and her small stature. Her hair was well-greyed, but stll there was a trace of her former redhair to give evidence of her former days as a bonnie young maiden.. Carefully placed in her hair was a sprig of that little white flower. Her eyes were quite remarkable, you couldn't help but explore them, bright eyes, even brilliant, a piercing sky blue touched ever so lightly with specks of gold and grey. And her voice? Well, her voice sounded like waters flowing playfully over river rocks on a cool September day.
"Gentlemen, would you like some honey-tea?" she asked, checking with each of us to verify our choice. "Three cups of honey tea for my tired pilgrims, and, I believe I will have one more for me."
She walked over to her cupboard and retrieved four rather elegant tea cups for a place so rustic as this. Then she drew her kettle from the fire and poured each of us tea. Into each cup she placed a spoonful of honey pulled from a round glass bowl, my cup being the last delivered. And as she placed the plain white cup into my hands, she added to it a long, gentle smile. She then asked me eye to eye, "Have you ever heard the story of the angel lace that you have noticed in my hair/"
I shook my head with a half-spoken words, "No, I haven't, ma'am."
Then she sat right beside me to tell me its tale.