Winter

I lived in a world with no warmth. Winter was our norm, our weather, our season. Snow and ice on top of snow and ice, an endless oblivion of white. Living in a small, quaint seaside town away from any major cities, life was regular and quiet. Buying direct from the boats every morning after a long night out digging through ice, I was a relatively well-off fish supplier without much hardship. I lived my life content in that world, as did everyone else.

The particular morning I’m about to detail began like every other morning. Everyone in town went about their usual chores hauling food and wood, bartering for clothes, setting up store fronts. I myself cleaned fish. Difficult as it was to operate the knives through thick wool gloves I did so outside at the front of my shop. Part of what made me a desirable seller was the fact onlookers could see the eventual purchasable product prepared start to finish.

The south wind blew with gusto that day. Busy with my work I hardly noticed the world revolving around me. I listened however, using the low chatter and shuffling feet as background music. The wind blew again, rougher this time, howling past in a rush. As it died down another noise, new and unfamiliar, grabbed my attention. Out the corner of my eye I saw a single cheet of paper, browned with age, had caught itself in a snow drift just beyond my front doorstep.

No one else seemed to notice such a little thing. Harmlessly I set aside my blade and picked it up to throw away. I disliked litter for it spoke badly of everything around it. Though slightly damp the words and pictures were still perfectly viewable. At first I merely skimmed, expecting a flyer for the upcoming sheriff election, but was quickly drawn in further and further. My breath quickened, my palms sweat as I gripped the page tighter. What I read was so unbelievable I had no choice but to believe it.

A picture of birds flying through clear skies above crisp looking trees flowing with leafy leafs. Where I lived no such scene existed. The passage accompanying the picture told of a valley where deer were plentiful and over a hundred flower species thrived.

Eventually a passerby couldn’t help but notice my expression. He walked up and greeted me easily, having known me and been a good customer of mine for years. I urged him to look at my discovery. Intrigued he examined what I had and laughed. Word spread quickly throughout the town. Soon everyone visited not for my fish but for proof of what was rumored.

Every night I poured over the single sheet. The written words were stated in such a plain, matter-of-fact sort of way. Such a thing as “Spring” had never been spoken of. I gathered that it must be something completely opposite of what I felt every day I stepped outside bundled in five layers.

In the picture, near the very back, was a mountain. A single mountain. Off in the distance, about a day’s walk from my town, was a mountain. A single mountain. I knew of no one, even in the history books, who had traveled over that mountain to see what lay on the other side.      

The voices told me to stop, to think about what I was attempting. I would never succeed. Closing my shop to set out on a journey whose destination was not known even to God. I would surly die before reaching my destination, my goal. A foreign land, fictitious through and through. My journey was that of a fools, nothing more.

But I, I dared to cross that mountain. I dared to wonder what lay beyond the known and accepted. The others, whose lives were spent in compliance and understanding stayed behind never to see me again. Once the forbidden fruit of curiosity is bitten, you can never go back to the innocence owned by new born babes. Perhaps I was doomed to death, but I would rather a short life filled with possibilities than a long life full of nothing.

The trek was hard, but my determination steeled my pride and body against the elements. Climb and climb, higher and higher until I reached the top. Oh, and on that blissful day! When I reached the peak and saw the light. This thing called Spring! I pulled out the paper and, comparing the two, shouted in joy. Falling to my knees tears of joy streamed down from my eyes. Normally I would have wiped them away for fear of the water freezing to my skin. But no more. Even on the edge of it, a sincere warmth brushed against my checks, almost like two arms welcoming me to my new home. 

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