Saturday, January 25, 2014

Snow Drifted Dreams

From his window the old man sits close to the coal grate an' watches sleepily as snow curls an' drifts around the barn on the hill.

It finds crevices and crannies to sink into, forming swirls, whirls and spirals of glistenin' white as the wind lifts and throws snow like a youngin' explorin' their first snowfall.

As the lumps of coal crackle and pop his mind looks back an' peeps into windows of memory, to times when he was young an' full of himself. Times when he would lace up his boots, throw on a coat an' wander up to the barn to make sure doors were tight latches, mules were fed an' content. Times when he would throw kindlin' into that ol' barn stove, light 'er up an' create a small spot of warmth an' escape from his cabin.

Not that they was chores that had to be done right smack dab in the midst of a winter storm, you see. A feller just needs to get out of his little ol' cabin an' see the world, work his hands an' body now an' again.

When the stove was goin' good a few lumps of coal thrown in would burn for such a long time. Then the real chores could be looked to. His tobaccer had been stripped an' was sent to the big warehouses to be sold not too long after they opened the sales floors in late November. He kept a good eye on the leaves as they hung in the barn. When they came into case there was always a flurry of work as the leaves was graded an' tied into hands. His tobaccer base weren't so very big back then, but it made for a fair to middlin' income when he was a raisin' tobaccer.

On them long winter days a feller would sweep the dirt floor to get up the remnants of the tobaccer gradin'. Tobaccer knives would be sharpened, oiled an' hung back up. Tables an' benches checked for boards needin' replacin'.

One of his favorite chores was to repair an' oil his harnesses, lines an gear for his mules. Inch by inch he would pass the well oiled leather through his hands, lookin' for cracks or dry spots needin' oil. Them ol' mules would snort an' cough, wantin' to be put into harness an' sent out to work. They got just as tired of the weather but icy ground could mean a broke leg for an ol' mule, so they stayed put.

There were times when chores could wait. Times when mules was fed an' brushed down, stalls were shoveled out, dirt floors swept clean. Those times was the best, the finest. Those times he would put a chair close to the stove an' just sit, damp boots close to the heat an' steam risin' from them as they dried. Don't know why men sit an' stare at an ol' stove as it crackles,pops an burns. He always suspected they was a studyin' on somethin'. That is what he would do, just sit an' study on the deep things of life.

The ol' man grinned an' blinked. He sat in his cabin for ever so long lookin' into the embers of coal that wormed an twisted in the grate. Yep, he could an' should get his coat on an' wander up to that ol' barn. They was always chores to be done.

He leaned back into his chair, pointed his feet toward the coal grate and smiled. Them chores could wait for a while yet. This here fire felt pretty good too.

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