tracks in the snow

our house in winter

“Please hold my hand now. I am dying.” As this soul pulled me close to her, she looked up but just smiled. I had just finished reading “Walking Home From Oak Head” by Mary Oliver to her and she seemed to be pleased to hear some of the refrains again,

There is something
about the snow-laden sky
in winter
in the late afternoon
that brings to the heart elation
and the lovely meaninglessness
of time.

We had shared many secrets over the years we had known one another, the years of being lovers, of becoming friends. She was “spiritual” in some ways by her reckoning and made me promise to keep her thoughts to myself. As she reminded me to be faithful to her wish, she quoted Isaac Bashevis Singer from his short story “Inventions”:

There are facts that a man must disown, even to himself. There are secrets one must take to the grave.

I had read to her all that weekend from various books and poems we had enjoyed over the years. She simply shook her head when I repeated upon request how Thomas Merton had died in Bangkok in 1968 when he was electrocuted by a badly wired electric fan that he touched when he stepped from the shower. He was only 53. At this time she was several years younger than he was when he died.

As I remember her now over twenty years ago, I seldom think of what she would have made of our world today or how I have changed or who the people have become that she brought into this world. She makes me think of the winter and its coldness and the snow that leaves our tracks in its wake. I go back to Oliver’s poem and read,

I stand in the same dark peace
as any pine tree,
or wander on slowly
like the still unhurried wind,
as for a gift,
for the snow to begin
which it does
at first casually,
then, irrepressibly.

Today’s world eventually beckons me back and I can now see outside as the dawn reveals the first nuthatches to come sit for a second on the window feeder to snatch a sunflower seed. The dogs are curled up nearby, content with breakfast but perhaps wishing I would restart the fire. You can almost see them smile when the blazing oak logs bring them the warmth we all crave. I reach down and pet them. As I squeeze their paws, their tails wag.

We have no secrets that I will betray and they are content.

Image: our house in winter by David Evans
David Evans

David Evans

I'm retired from another life and live in the mountains of eastern West Virginia with my muse Jody along with one little and two big dogs and a diminishing pride of two cats and other critters who come along the path from time to time. I retired one morning years ago when I woke up and said, "This is the day." It was simply time to do something new with my life. I had done whatever I did long enough, and now it was time to do something else. Being independent and no longer in the reins of someone else's driver, I believe I have found something to cherish that I never had before. Retirement may be dull and boring, but that's true only if you are dull and boring. But if you’re like I was, and am, I saw a lot of things as I went along the trail that I would have liked to linger over a lot longer if I had had the time to spare. Above all, I wanted to think about what they meant and have the chance to go back over them and figure them out. I'm not abashed to say that today I lead a life of real luxury. I also recognize that I'm a lucky boy. In the words of Katherine Anne Porter: "My life has been incredible, I don't believe a word of it." I am the author of the recently published collection of essays entitled Meeting Memory In The Dark. Earlier I self-published Words To Woo Her By And Other Distractions Along The Way; Tunes of Glory: The Slow Ticking of the Heart; Cradle My Soul: Glimpses Into Other Lives; and Unscheduled Stops: Essays on Love, Loss and Other Roadside Attractions. All are available on either Amazon or Create Space, a subsidiary of Amazon. Proceeds go to the Almost Heaven Golden Retriever Rescue and Sanctuary in Capon Bridge, West Virginia.