Saturday, December 27, 2008

midnight snowshoe

The weather confounds business at the restaurant. It is the holiday season and every night should be packed with patrons: jolly faced benefactors and diplomatic aunts at family gatherings or bright-eyed young lovers with sugarplum dreams of holiday engagements should be gathered round our eight tables. But winter weather advisories are dispatched every other day. Heavy snows, wintry mix and flat-out ice paralyze the roads causing cancellations and missed reservations. We try to look at these early nights as the gift horses that they are, careful to avoid peering into the mouth of any Trojan-style pony. We leave the restaurant well before our usual hour, and on a couple of nights before Christmas we come home to race into our snowshoes for a midnight trek. The snow comes down thick and soft and we carry a globe lantern to light our way, our household flashlight having spent its batteries. We walk across our field to a woodland patch where we’d spied a possible Christmas tree a few days before.

The tree is there, a modest pine crowding another pine. We’ve brought our small saw, and the work is quick. A crunching sound in the snow causes us to stop, a flash of fear that we’ve been caught in what might appear to be an illicit act even though this our own property. At this hour of the night, all seems illicit. Or perhaps a bear or coyote circles us from a short distance? We are afterall on the spine of the wild Chateauguay. It is unnecessary to do so, but we still cannot fight the desire to throw a coat over our lantern. We resist the impulse to run. Our eyes adjust to the dark of the night. Then we, like characters in a blackened Bruegel painting, drag our tree home sweeping the snow over our tracks.


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