Manchan awoke with a chill. Only a few cooling embers remained from last night's fire. He carefully placed another sheepskin on his dear wife Brigid and headed for the sheepcote. The wind was blowing violently, and Manchan pushed with all his might to open the door of his small but comfortable cottage. He quickly made his way to the sheepcote to gather more firewood. December was sometimes unforgiving in the mountains, but It was the christening snow that everyone was waiting for,
The terrible wind forced Manchan to pull his cloak tighter around him. His steps were met with resistance as he pushed on across the field. A full moon momentarily peeked through the gathering cloud cover. The sheepcote, although not warm, would at least put a wall between Manchan and the fierce wind. He hurried his steps.
Once inside, he went about his task of gathering wood from the neatly stacked pile in the far corner. He knew he needed to hurry. The fire in the cottage would soon be out completely and Brigid desperately needed the warmth of a glowing fire.
Manchan returned, arms full of fresh kindling. Within minutes the fire was once again roaring, and he was back at his beloved Brigid's side. He looked deeply into her eyes, and could only see her pain. The fever came with the turn of October's leaves and continued to worsen. Now December was here. The usually mild winter temperatures were suddenly replaced with fast moving winds and frigid weather conditions. A storm was brewing outside.
Inside, Manchan wiped Brigid's sweat-soaked brow with an old rag, trying to keep her as comfortable as possible. She rested her head on Manchan's shoulder. Finally, she broke the silence.
"Manchan, life's been good to me. You have been good to me. The cold in the air can't chase away the warmth in my heart. Do you remember when we met? What a lovely spring day that was! The meadows were blooming with all kinds of flowers, every hue you might imagine. The freshness of the air, I'll never forget. And you - you were there. It seems that you've always been there. Bless you, Manchan.
"Then - oh, yes, then came the summer. The bleating of the sheep upon the mountains. Blue skies in between the rains. This past summer was such a special summer. I will forever remember riding with you over the moors and meadows. You've always given me so much love.
"The autumn - a special time of the year. Nature would begin to grow quiet, and yet there was always excitement in the air. You made it that way, Manchan. I know this past autumn, things have changed, and not for the better, but you've been right beside me the whole time.
Now, the darker days of winter are upon us. You've been so strong when I most needed you to be. Oh, Manchan, I love the seasons because I love you. Here it is, December 17 and we're still waiting for the christening snow.
"Manchan, please, would you share your memories with me?"
"Oh, my dear Brigid, so many memories I scarce know where to begin. That valley in spring, so green, and yet the stream running through its midst was so blue. A contrast of colors I have never seen since. And then, to see you dancing there. My heart melted.
The summers - the greenery and the gentle warmth of the sun only heated my soul for you. Your father tried to keep us apart, but through the years, you've proven true. I am sure the gods sent you to me. The days of riding and exploring in the meadows brought so much joy and happiness to this poor shepherd. You have blessed me far beyond what anyone could imagine.
"The same valley when autumn would light the land - I remember lying amongst the amber leaves as they covered the ground beneath the ash trees in the grove. We were truly one with nature.
"Your spirit was wild, and yet your childlike heart fascinated me. Still, you mixed with that such a mild and quiet spirit - a gentle soul. How could I not help but to fall in love with you?
"Because your father did not care for me, it cost you dearly to share my life, and I thank you for that sacrifice. I know it was not easy for you, but we have been happy, and my life is complete because of you. I could never repay you for the life you have given me."
Brigid's fever worsened as she listened to Manchan. Manchan dipped the old rag in a bowl of water and patted her face and forehead. She looked again into his eyes.
"Manchan, when each new winter comes, promise me that when you see the christening snow, you'll stop to think of me. Always remember our time together for I will ever be with you. Manchan, will you promise?"
"Of course, my beloved, but we shall see the christening snow together many more times. Chin up. Give me your smile."
Brigid forced a smile of love and devotion.
Manchan continued "My beloved Brigid, you will always be with me for true love never dies. We will have an eternity to dance with the gods upon the moors. We will live through thousands of summers," Manchan lied, denying his belief in the christening snow.
The old shutters began to rattle the windows. Manchan arose to tend to the matter. Brigid spoke again.
"Manchan, would be so kind as to bring me a cup of cool water? I so need its refreshing qualities."
"Certainly, my love," Manchan replied, as he secured the shutter.
Bringing the water to her side, Manchan looked once again deep into her eyes. They were closed. She was a beautiful picture of rest.
"My dear Brigid. Arise. I've your cup of refreshment." He reached down and touched her face. There was no response. More emphatic this time he repeated, ".My dear Brigid. Arise. I've your cup of refreshment." Still no response.
"Brigid! Brigid!" He noticed she was no longer breathing. Slowly he moved toward the cottage door. Once again pushing hard against the wind, he looked out over the fields. The christening snow was falling.
He remembered his dear Brigid's words. He could hear her say, - "Manchan, when each new winter comes, promise me that when you see the christening snow, you'll stop to think of me. Always remember our time together for I will ever be with you."
Stepping out into the cold and wet night, Manchan screamed one word. "N oo o . . ." It echoed down the valley to the mountain across the way and back again. He could only deny his belief in the christening snow so long.