Love’s only destiny is to fulfill itself, and it always will, and it always does. 

“It was a day in March.

Never, never begin a story this way when you write one. No opening could possibly be worse. It is unimaginative, flat, dry and likely to consist of mere wind. But in this instance it is allowable.”

This is how O. Henry’s short story “Springtime à la Carte” starts, as we are then led into the seemingly ordinary day of Sarah – who is currently in her poor humble bedroom shedding tears over a menu card.

Sarah is a freelance typewriter in New York, with a few other odd jobs in-between wherever she could find them; as talented as she is – there just aren’t many opportunities in the city for it is hard times indeed, and as hard-working as she is, she dedicates all of herself even for the smallest projects.

Sarah’s current job is typing daily menu cards for Schulenberg’s Home Restaurant, which is next door to the old red brick where she hall-rooms – a gig she very much deservingly received when she noticed the daily written menus and then beautifully typewrote them offering her skills to the restaurant’s owner Schulenberg. He was charmed of course, for he had rarely before seen such beauty and effort in a menu card, and certainly knew how much difference it would make to his business. In return for Sarah writing him the daily menus, he would send her three meals a day to her room. During the long cold winter, this was all Sarah needed anyway – as she’d be able to have warm meals in her room.

And so here we are – an afternoon in March with Sarah shivering in her cold room and shedding tears over the menu cards she has to write. She sits in her squeaky willow rocker, looking out the window in deep longing and sentiment, with the calendar crying too while looking at her, as if whispering, “Springtime is here, Sarah—springtime is here, I tell you. Look at me, Sarah, my figures show it. You’ve got a neat figure yourself, Sarah—a—nice springtime figure—why do you look out the window so sadly?”

Spring comes when it comes – sometimes it’s before we know it, and other times it feels like forever, like it hasn’t come yet even when the flowers say it has arrived.

Memories unfold us and Sarah tells us her story. It was last summer when she had gone to the countryside and there, she fell in love with a young farmer named Walter. The two came from very different backgrounds, she a city girl, he – a man who had grown up with all green around him, and yet love is love is love. And when you know you know – and you don’t need much time, because all of you knows, and any questions and doubts have ceased to exist.

Sarah stayed two weeks at the Sunnybrook Farm, and it was there, in the shaded and raspberried lane that Walter had wooed and won her heart. Together they sat one afternoon and he had woven her a crown of dandelions – and he put it on her beautiful hair, he proposed. He planned and promised to marry her at the first sight of next spring when he’d come to the city to take and hold her hand forever thereafter.

These memories kept her warm all through fall and winter, all throughout her struggles and sadness and hardships. Only a heart in love knows how heart-breaking distance can be when communication is lost. Anger, frustration, sadness – all in one these feelings marry with desire, hope, love and yearning.

And so, Sarah is crying. Shedding tears over the menu cards as she writes them – because despite the many letters she had written to Walter, he hasn’t replied. In the depth of her, tears from a summer’s rose can’t help themselves but come to the surface, and down her cheeks. And down goes her head, on her little typewriter stand, moistening pages with her tears.

The next item on the bill of fare is dandelions – dandelions with some kind of egg – but who cares about the egg anyway, when there are dandelions … dandelions, or rather, the golden blooms Walter crowned her with to be his queen of love and future bride. Dandelions, the harbingers of spring, her sorrow’s crown of sorrow, the reminder of her happiest days of last summer.

Oh the confusion! Why wouldn’t he reply to her letters? Well, many reasons perhaps … he was lost, in jail, unable to write … but at least spring is here, so maybe he’ll still come, they’ll still marry, he still loves her as she loves him? A promise is a promise especially when it’s hearts that make it. Right? Right?

Focus, focus. The menu cards must be written.

So in a faint of a warm summer’s dandelion dream, her gentle frail fingers type something for a little while – though her heart and mind are still in the loving arms of her farmer boy in the meadow’s shaded and raspberried lane.

Finally, the menu cards were finished, and they were off to the restaurant, as she received her promised daily meal in her room. The night comes with its familiar old sounds. The neighbours next door continue to quarrel, the man in the room above tries for an A on his flute, and the coal wagons outside start to unload.

Nothing new, same old sounds, same old ordinary night, same old calendars watching her as she watched them too. And suddenly the front door bell rang. The landlady answered. And Sarah heard the voice deeply known in her heart – the one familiar thing, that even if ordinary is the most extraordinary in the world! She ran down the stairs as fast as she could to find Walter approaching her, as they met in an embrace.

“Why haven’t you written—oh, why?” cried Sarah.

“New York is a pretty large town,” said Walter Franklin. “I came in a week ago to your old address. I found that you went away on a Thursday. That consoled some; it eliminated the possible Friday bad luck. But it didn’t prevent my hunting for you with police and otherwise ever since!

“I wrote!” said Sarah, vehemently.

“Never got it!”

“Then how did you find me?”

The young farmer smiled a springtime smile.

“I dropped into that Home Restaurant next door this evening,” said he. “I don’t care who knows it; I like a dish of some kind of greens at this time of the year.

I ran my eye down that nice typewritten bill of fare looking for something in that line. When I got below cabbage I turned my chair over and hollered for the proprietor. He told me where you lived.”

“I remember,” sighed Sarah, happily. “That was dandelions below cabbage.”

“Yes … it was the W on the dandelions,” and Walter handed her the manu card.

As Sarah held the menu card wondering what he meant, she recognized that it was the first menu card she had written earlier that day – because of her tear stain on the paper. A tear that had fallen in the spot where a person should have read about a dandelion, a simple meadow plant, but instead her heart had written its true meaning.

There, in that spot, where her gentle frail fingers had typed in strange ways – though strange only to the human mind, but quite expected for there’s nothing mystical related to the human heart – there, between the red cabbage and the stuffed green peppers was the item reading:


Despite time and space, true lovers always meet and reunite. It’s inevitable.

In Springtime à la Carte by O. Henry we have the themes of love, worry, dedication, loneliness, and connection – and we see so clearly how along the twists and turns of the wild lands of love, there are never any coincidences. Nothing is not as it should. And love’s only destiny is to fulfill itself – and it will, it does, always, it’s inevitable. It may seem like nothing is working out, like nothing makes sense, but there are clocks outside of our human clocks – with hands unstrikeable by us, and our human hands – but when it’s time, it’s time. It doesn’t matter if we think we are ready or not, if things are messy or not, if things seem undone or not – when it’s time, it’s time – even roses may bloom in late November along the sidewalks covered with light snow. I know – because I’ve seen them do so. In such times, even our rational mind is almost convinced it’s spring. 

In love – when two hearts are connected truly, when two souls love one another deeply, nothing can separate them. And they will always find one another. Life itself will make it its devotion and dedication to bring them together again. Mistakes, random errors and so-called coincidences will all serve a higher purpose – to cross the paths of the two lovers again because their love is just too strong and all else will kneel. All kneels to love. Then, now, always. 

There is a voice more ancient than us, more ancient than time, from a time before time beyond time, that is pulling us and calling us towards itself – towards the hands of the thing that’s deeply a part of us, like soulskin. It’s something imprinted on our soul and it knows before our minds do – the heart knows and will lead us there. So trust it. Trust that if you truly desire something, there is a reason for it. Trust that if love is real, it is mutual, and what you seek is seeking you – because that’s true, and it can’t belong to anyone else but only you. These are not just romantic stories – these are real life stories. Unbelievable? Only if you haven’t known deep soul love yet.

As much as we want to have straight and direct roads – and so we build and cement them as such – the paths of life are never like that. They are full of twists and turns for such are the real ways of the unique emotional, physical and spiritual wild lands of life and love. It’s never black or white – there are many subtle and complex nuances in the in-betweens. This story reminds us of that.

Surely, two weeks may not seem reasonable to fall in love and want to marry, and then keep you waiting for a year without much communication. But I’ve seen even only a summer day keep you waiting for many years until two lovers kiss at last and are together.

Surely, someone suddenly disappearing may make us think that they don’t care anymore, that a promise was only a thing made with lips not with soul – but consider that sometimes things get lost, communication gets lost even in our modern day, and that there are other reasons beyond “not caring” that can make two people lose contact for a while.

We just don’t know it all, and the humility in this deserves to be treasured. Our heart is an intuitive body and by the time we feel something as a desire, idea, urge, it is because there is already an established need for it about it – and it is pulling us towards itself for a reason. The reasons for it may be uncovered in time, in years, or maybe even never. But we need to trust it. Because this is how we enter the soul of all matter. Hands will sometimes write for us, feet will sometimes walk for us, eyes will shift towards the unknown horizons as if we are waiting for something, looking for something, knowing something. What is this feeling? Just follow it. Trust it.

Consider that what you felt and shared with another was true, and there are still those people, even if rare, who are of pure, open hearts and with loyalty and integrity – whose words have weight and meaning. One of the hardest lessons in this life is to learn to trust – in life and in ourselves – to learn that the “outside doesn’t matter”.

No matter what is going on externally, no matter how slow or non-existent or contradicting or confusing – it doesn’t matter. All that matters is for you to keep the connection to your heart, the knowing of your truth and heart’s desire, to trust in yourself, in divine order and in divine timing, and to be able to reconnect to that higher faith at any given time through your heart regardless of the external people and circumstances. Don’t give up hope.

Sometimes our life is dreamt by a bigger dreamer than us – and it unfolds more beautifully than we can ever even imagine. 

Trust can easily be lost because it is a tender thing. And yet it isn’t when all is going great – it is when things are confusing and non-sensical that we need to build a bridge to and nurture our trust. It is when the external circumstances and environment isn’t showing us something, and yet we feel it deep within, that we need to access our within and trust.

Never stop loving, feeling and believing in love. Life and destiny will do the rest – and make sure that it shapes into human hands, for love is not only felt in the hearts, it is known by the hands also.

Some bonds are impossible to ever break. When love is made with the heart and soul, and not only with the beauty of lips and words, it creates something unbreakable. The two people who share such a deep bond, emotional and spiritual, will always find their way towards one another. No time and distance will separate them. And no time and distance will be felt as an obstacle neither – for they feel one another even from far away. And when they finally meet again – whether this again is from now or from another life and time – it’s as if no time and space had ever passed. Conversations and laughter continue as if we just stopped talking five minutes ago. Because in essence, they were never separated – they were already made as one when they fell in love. These are the eternal lovers; these are the mystical ways of the heart.

Sometimes we just need to surrender and allow the unknowing and ambivalence – because in these little spaces of unknowings, is where trust becomes us, is where God breathes, and where magic happens.

If you love O. Henry’s stories, I have previously written on two of my other favourites:

The Gift of the Magi and The Green Door

For more of my writings, browse through my Art of Love.

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Soulmate Love: What You Seek Is Seeking You

When Hawks Fly and Eternal Lovers Meet

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The Secret Threads

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The Dandelion Girl: Love Transcends Time

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