Thursday, December 8, 2011

Back to the Prairie: The Marvelous Trek

   When snow came to the prairie it brought with it the anticipation of celebration. With each passing day my longing for our special gathering was faintly pacified with various chores associated with 'company coming'. Oh how I longingly waited for the long trek- a true sign Christmas was drawing near.
   Rising to another bitter cold morning- eggs and toast; sausage and such- another day of snow and work. Sitting there by Grandpa..a sideways glance revealed a twinkle in his eye. My heart jumped- could this be the day? Trying to sit still and finish breakfast is absolutely torturous! Hardly a word is spoken as I wait on pins and needles for the adults to finish 'one more cup of coffee' and another piece of toast.
   On Grandpa's heals I follow to gather the ax and saw..extra work gloves..a pair for each of us. His old blue truck rumbles down the gravel roads as we head off to the woods. Most of the prairie is flat, but here and there are beautiful wooded areas where the men go hunting and morel mushrooms are harvested..but today is not about those today is all about the trek.
   Clomping and stomping we head through the small boots trying to keep in his tracks. It is hard to see between the woolen cap and scarf warming my face- but I love the sparkle of the snow in the glittering light. He looks back at me- blue eyes shining- as an occasional chuckle escapes him. Together we words are spoken..we just know..soon we'll find the right one.
   Destiny brings us to the spot..the perfect place with just the right one; tall and bright, smelling oh so good. I hold the saw as his mighty ax makes the first few cuts. It is my job to saw a bit- I'm small enough to fit right under even the lowest branches- so this job is just right for me. With a crackle and whoosh, the mighty tree falls; for just a moment sadness grips me as I realize this tree will never be here again. He comforts me..reminding me that in taking one we make room for others; he always knows just what to say. Together we take hold the branches- he on one side, me on the other- dragging the tree back to the truck; I don't remember the walk being so far before.
   The ride back to the farmhouse is quiet; the hum of the heater as it blows- Grandpa places my hands near the vent to be sure I warm them good. We talk of lumps of coal in my stocking as he tries to question my goodness for the year. Laughter and teasing make the ride seem short, but the warmth of the house will be welcome!
   Inside the big warm kitchen smells of good things; beef stew and biscuits and cocoa to sip! My uncle has arrived to help set up the tree...they work on that while I get warmer (reminding me one more time that I might catch my death if I don't stay warm and dry).
  Slipping from my seat I tip toe around the doorway and gaze at the beautiful tree. My mind wanders to the boxes and boxes of ornaments and tinsel, the angel and the lights--how exciting this will be! Yes, it was worth it...the wait, the cold, the long walk through the woods...deep in my heart I store away the beautiful memory of Grandpa and me and the marvelous trek.

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