I love the new snows of white winter. Mom allows me to deliver a note to Grandma's house two miles down the hills through the woods and over the flats. I'm old enough, she agrees, to venture by myself.
“Don't forget your blue sweater!” she shouts up the stairs. But I did.
Shirt, pants, socks, shoes. I'm quick. Downstairs in the entryway, I hurry to slide on my black rubber boots and fasten the clips. Then coat, hat, and black woolly mittens. I'm out the door and up the country road as I notice more white thick snowflakes falling on my dark navy coat. The crystals sure look soft and pretty. I watch as one melts on my mitten.
So I traverse through Westhampton pass the old white Congregational Church with the very tall, pointed steeple looking over the treetops, down the rolling farm hills, and out across the valleys. It's the church of our Pilgrim ancestors since the Revolution.
Over the next side hill I hurry pass the granite cemetery stone walls where little Christopher, a baby brother I never saw, is buried.
I imagine the maple smells of Grandma boiling down the sweet sap wet from the maple tree buckets. I bet she'll cut some maple sugar blocks or, just maybe, pour some syrup on fresh fallen snow. Here comes the snow!
I'm beyond the big farm barns and houses now. One belongs to the Morris's; I don't know the name of the other's. Maybe Dad once said it was the Fisk's or the Blakesley's. I decide to turn and shortcut over the barb wire fences and out across the wide flats to save time.
I heard there's a narrow wood log bridge crossing the creek somewhere. I hate that creek. In springtime, the water moccasins roam. You can watch them under the shallow water slithering through the rocks. And I hate it when my uncles cut their heads off with shovels. The snakes still look at you with their open mouths and bared fangs.
I can't see a thing through the white, but I must be near the creek. I bite my teeth to stop them from rattling. That's when I trip over something like a field rock and fall flat on my face in the snow. Womp! I'm too scared, and I'm breathing too hard.
“You're guardian angel will always protect you,” my mother says.
I lay in the soft snow blanket to catch my breath. I wish to toboggan on the steep slope across from our colonial house with my cousins and my brother and sisters. But I'm not. I wish to smell all kinds of pies at my Grandma's house when she's baking. Blueberry and apple and squash and rhubarb and pumpkin and mince meat! But I'm not.
I wish to pet her gigantic St. Bernard, Big Max, in front of her red hot kitchen wood stove. But I'm not. I'm cold....
Something brushed my arm. I startled terrified goosebumps to jump over my whole body.
“Hey, Brother, wake up! Hey, Brother, are you alive?”
I look up. There's an older kid standing in a black suit wearing a wide black belt and a strange shiny buckle! He's wrapped a white scarf around his head for warmth.
“My name's not Brother,” I said. “I'm Billy. I'm cold.”
“Come on, I'll show you the path.”
“What's your name?” I ask.
“Joshua,” he answers.
Joshua grabs my hand and yanks me to my feet. Boy, is he strong! He keeps my hand and leads me through the snow fog. He leads me across the flat wood bridge I can't find. We pass right along the close walls of a rustic log cabin as we climb the side hill through the trees. Amazingly, he knows the way. But I can't see a thing.
Half way up the hill, Big Max, my Grandma's brown and white St. Bernard, lumbers down toward us through the white. He's so big, I could ride him.
“Look! He wants to take you to your Grandma's,” said Joshua.
“All right!” I answered. I turned to thank Joshua, but he was...gone!
“Be careful, what you say!” said Grandma Laura Church Witherell as she dried out my clothes.
After I dressed, the snow storm cleared. She took me out the door and pointed down the hill.
“See, there's no cabin down that hill! And there's no one else who lives here abouts. That foot bridge collapsed in the floods last spring.”
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