|The Crow Always Knows When the Snow Will be Arriving…|
The Crow Always Knows When the Snow Will be Arriving”
by Lynda McKinney Lambert, January 2, 2014.
How can it be? It is already January 2nd!
I reached out, slowly turned over the final page of last year’s calendar. This calendar has “Healthy Living” imprinted on the front of it. I paused for a little break from my writing this afternoon and looked at my well-worn, ink-marked calendar from last year. The bright landscape picture on the cover is obviously one that was photo-shopped and manipulated to heighten the colors and give the calendar a surreal feeling. It’s the kind of calendar scene we are accustomed to receiving each year from our local bank. I kept it here on the desk in my office so I could plan the days and appointments throughout the year. I wrote down all the appointments in the little squares, month by month. Sometimes, I took notice of when the full moon would be in the night sky because I like to go outside on those nights and just feel the wonder of it.
Today, this calendar cover seemed compelling to me as I thought about the year I had just completed. I had not taken the time to really look at it during the year. The calendar was just something that was taken for granted as I referred to it for appointments regularly. As I worked this morning at my computer, I began to feel tired and I needed to take a little break. I pushed back my chair to relax for a few moments. As I focused my attention on the calendar, I had the feeling like a shift had begun and it was taking me into that photograph. I walked, knee-deep, through the sunlight on the grassy meadow. The deep green meadow was so expansive that I felt like I had stepped into another dimension; it seemed to be nearly endless. Gradually, I felt the warmth of the soft morning light falling on my shoulders; I waded through the tall, still grasses and noticed the delicate, translucent ivory blossoms growing deep inside the rich amethyst shadows between the tufts and blades of grass. My eyes shifted upwards to search the distance in front of me. Just beyond this field of lush summer growth, there was a much taller border of deep green shapes that had a menacing effect on me. I thought, “They seem to be planning a conspiracy to trap me in this field.”
A closer look revealed a barrier made from rows of tall, slender evergreen trees. They must have locked their arms together and now stand motionless at the end of the field. “Are they trying to take my attention away so I cannot see what is standing behind them?” I was not sure. In the silhouette profile of forms, Nature presented another layer to the landscape. I smiled because I was not fooled by this charade. The trees were just not powerful enough to distract me because I had already seen the luminescent, lavender dusted snow-peaks of the distant mountain range. They pointed upward into the vast western sky. The mountain peaks looked like paper cut outs against the azure blue sky – an unrestrained sky that has only a very few shifting, billowing clouds off to the right side of the glossy picture. The central mountain peak pointed into the heavens as it beckoned to me. “Come closer,” it said.
For a moment I stood still – transfixed in time and space. I forgot completely that I am seated in front of a computer screen, alone, in my home office. It’s still snowing outside and the room I sit in is flooded with bright light. I glanced over my right shoulder to see the view outside. Yes, it is all still there, just as I thought it would be.
I am not hiking in the splendor of a lazy summer day, meandering through a meadow beneath the mountains and the blue sky. Instead, it is January in western Pennsylvania. Outside, It is frigid and the snow continues to fall.
I think, “That snow is trying to bury everything. It’s quickly covering over all the secret paths the deer left here this morning.” The sky is the color of stainless steel, a solid, opaque kind of sky that contrasts with the deep gray barren trees in the woods. I remembered how the black crow glided overhead in the early morning hours, just after dawn. “The crow always knows when the snow will be arriving.” I recalled. I shivered as I began the steep climb up the soggy wet hill. The journey today was completed and I came back to where I began. I still wear my faded orange T-shirt and black Capri pants that I wore to the gym this morning. My feet snuggle deeper into the fuzzy pale lilac slippers. My toes feel warm against the soft fleece.
This was the first day that things are getting back to normal at our house. It’s solitary. My husband drove into town to buy some groceries. When he returns, we’ll fill the empty fruit bowls that are on the antique table, near the kitchen door. Our refrigerator is cleaned out and ready for him to bring back the vegetable to fill it up again. Now that our holiday guests are gone we needed to restock our supply of food.
Country music wafts through the interior of the warm house; it comes from the radio in the kitchen and fills the open spaces that surround me. Our two dogs are curled up for a long afternoon of comfort as they lay in their plush, round beds. The cats are hidden away in solitary places, as they usually do during the day. We are all feeling tired after the busy, sometimes crazy holiday week we just completed.
My husband and I have a large family and the children are all adults now, with children of their own. They all come home for Christmas most years. It is a rare Christmas that someone in the family is not here for a few days. Yes, all together there were twenty one people celebrating Christmas together in this house. It all started the day after Christmas, December 26th, when our son and his family arrived from Maryland. In the following days, one by one, the cars and trucks pulled into the driveway and the occupants rolled out. They held armloads of children, wrapped gifts, and foods they had prepared for our time together. There were lots of hugs as we greeted each other once again. Our laughter and loud chatter filled up the house quickly with a cacophony of sounds.
We went to bed early on New Year’s Eve. Around midnight we were vaguely aware of snapping and popping sounds coming from the local bar across the creek. There was laughter and intermittent voices from the people who were celebrating the beginning of a new year together. I turned over, pulled the cozy blue layer of blankets up around my head. I was content. It’s the kind of contentment that elderly people like us have sometimes. We encounter mysteries in the deep winter time when the ink black sky enfolds the hills in this valley with silent mists. It is on nights like this one when we stand outside in the cold darkness, gazing upwards to see if we can find the North Star.