The kids and I spent a long winter's afternoon/evening at the pond. We left the house with the sun setting bright pink and red over the horizon- an early winter dusk. We walked down to the pond trying to (the kids) and not to (the mom) fall through the fragile, deep drifts that form in the slough.The kids love the feeling of falling into those drifts- for me it is the stuff of nightmares. Upside down, over your head in feathery snow with no traction.
**Aside- we are just finishing reading Laura Ingells Wilder's On the Shores of Silver Lake. One scene is a couple coming to the prairie on Christmas Eve and their sleigh falling through the slough drifts so they have to abandon it.**
We played on the ice, finding spots where the wind had blown away the snow. The kids never tired of playing "pile on" each other. Like a frisky litter of pups rolling around in the snow.
The stars came out one by one at first and then by the hundreds and millions. The cold air was crisp and clear. Soon we could see satellites gliding by and the Milky Way becames a cloudy streak of stars across the night sky. We lingered on and on into the night.
I'll admit to getting a bit of my adventure needs met by these nighttime walks into the prairie preserve and onto the pothole ponds. Alone on the prairie- no people- no lights at all (we've turned off our yardlight)- no sounds of civilization, cars, trucks, trains or planes. Wide open space, darkness and my children around me in the frigid cold.
Then I start getting nervous. It's a long trek home- there are those drifts in the slough to avoid- I remember the e-mail my neighbor sent last week about a farmer hitting an 800 pound hibernating bear while harvesting the corn that still stands in the snow. So I start to hustle the kids back towards the house.
Last weekend I attended the funeral of a friend's son. One of the older gentlemen talking to me after the service looked out the church basement windows, the smell of brewing coffee filling the air, and said "I can handle this better with the coming of the February sun."
The kids sang a new song called "There is Hope in the Darkest Night" as we walked back home- they taught me the words so I could sing with them. There is hope in the darkest night- and the February sun is here.