penny in a castle

A digital chapbook.

New Years

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For New Years my family and I went away to a cottage about three hours away from our home.

We had a green Christmas this year, so when we first arrived there really wasn’t much snow on the ground.  I did not feel like going, this year having been a bit bleaker and a bit more difficult to manage that usual. I put all my effort into just making it to Christmas and afterwards there was nothing left to face a new year.  I felt as wrung out as the pale browns and beiges of the landscape, as weak and washed out as the scenery all around us.

During the winter, the cottage is inaccessible except on foot. Usually we cross the lake or we take all our stuff by toboggan downhill. There were years of babies in their car seats being strapped into toboggans – oblivious to the heavy loads being strapped in with them of food, clothing or sleeping bag. There have been several memorable years of children freaking out on a sled ride in the dark down a steep incline. It’s always an adventure.

This year though, for the first time, the children could carry their own stuff in their backpacks down the hill.  Even the littlest could take a small backpack and hurried after the others. I felt, for a moment, like we had turned a corner.  There would be no looking back from here on in and I could see hiking and camping trips in our future.

That night, as I slept, part of the moon shone down. Later, the stars were brighter among the tree branches.

The next day, as I stood on the lake shore there was silence. Some snow had fallen in the night – just enough to cover the ground and the lake. There was no one else around, and no wind to stir the snow or the few dry leaves left.  But as I stood there on the snowy beach, I could hear an odd sound – the water and air shifting under the ice, causing it to move and settle.   It made an eerie cracking and popping noise – sometimes farther, sometimes closer – as if it were a living a breathing creature under our feet.

My husband and father-in-law started to shovel some of the snow off the ice to make a skating rink. Within a short time, they had a sizable patch – twisting and curving in different directions. Figure eights and infinite loops. The children put on their skates and happily raced each other up and down the ice – towards the rock fall and then back to Grandma and Grandpa’s shore.  As I stood there, it was hard to imagine the difference from the summer, when where I was standing would require swimming or paddling in a canoe for a distance. The silence come alive with the lapping of waves, of wind in the green leaves, and with the singing of birds.

The next day, my husband was even more ambitious – he started to clear paths in the snow from one end of the lake to the other.   As I watched him and the children chasing after him down the path he had made, it reminded me of the Joni Mitchell song “River”:

Oh I wish I had a river
I could skate away on
I wish I had a river so long
I would teach my feet to fly

This New Years, as I stand feeling “selfish and sad” and frozen, I don’t have any resolve for any resolutions.  There is a part of me that wishes I could just skate away from it all. Maybe though – as I watch the children laughing and playing, and my husband works hard to make the most of a winter wonderland – the best thing I can do this year is teach my hopes to fly.

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Written by pennyinacastle

January 4, 2015 at 2:15 am

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