1962. School was out for Christmas break. I was 12.
One afternoon, late, a little before dark, snow started falling.
It snowed all night.
Brad and I slept in the unfinished attic. Through the night
I listened to winter's wind whistling through the cracks in
our walls, I listened to winter's wind and snow weaving
songs accompanied by the cedar and pine trees
surrounding and protecting our home.
Before daybreak I heard Mama and Daddy downstairs,
Daddy loading the furnace with coal then going out the
back door headed to the barn to feed the animals, Mama
in the kitchen cooking breakfast. She was singing, quietly,
"Oh Christmas Tree." I smelled bacon and biscuits and
gravy and coffee. Yes I was already drinking coffee. Started
when I was 6.
I woke Brad up. Brad was a sound sleeper. I said "Hey,
wake up. Let's go see how much snow we got. Hey, get
up. We've got to go milk the cows, chop the ice on the
pond, and bring the coal in. Come on, Mama's cooking
breakfast. I'm going down."
Brad and I had breakfast with Mama and Daddy. As
always Mama's cooking was delicious. We ate every
crumb. Brad licked his plate.
Daddy left for work at the mines.
After Brad and I finished our morning chores I got my
.410 shotgun and went hunting.
It had snowed over a foot during the night and giant
flakes were still falling. The snow wasn't letting up.
I walked and walked and walked. I was in awe of the
beauty, all the beauty that surrounded me. I lost track
I found myself in a field surrounded by woods. All
round me the wind whispered through the limbs
the branches of the barren trees, the wind whispered
through the fur of the evergreen trees. A lone crow
cawed in the distance, searching its way home.
It was then I realized that I was hearing a sound
louder than any other, a loud but gentle and soft
sound, the sound of falling snowflakes.
That sound, that moment, comes back to me often,
including now, transporting me to a time and a
place long gone, but a time and a place that will
live eternally in me in my heart's memory.
copyright (c) 2006 Ron Whitehead