Shepherd’s Winter – Part 15

thI8PQF237Crunches In The Snow

One can not escape the beauty of the cold, frost, the frozen mist, and snow. It is like a still photograph that can be examined without interruption or movement. It can be studied and contemplated. Thoughts and concepts can ease into the mind that have no chance anywhere else.

The strange dances of the northern lights are like music with no sound. They conjure the imagination with awe. It is a gift from God.

On a cold still night Shepherd an Pal ventured 100 yards into the plain before the cabin and watched the spectacle. Shepherd was near breathless. Pal was curious and sniffed toward the sky.

A sound, a terrible sound came from afar, from the far side of the plain in the trees; from the north. It was like no other creature heard by Shepherd before.

Pal looked to the distant trees. His ears perked and his eyes were like arrows piercing and shooting into the dark.

The scope was on the rifle and Shepherd brought it to his shoulder and scanned the woods. Something large in the shape of a man darted from tree to tree working its way closer to where the plain begins.

“Pal,” Shepherd said. “House!”

Pal leaped through the snow to the house with Shepherd struggling behind him. Pal waited on the porch for Shepherd, breathing heavy. Shepherd strained looking at the trees on the other side of the plain of snow. He again hoisted the rifle to his shoulder and scanned the trees through the scope.

“Our visitor seems to have taken his leave,” Shepherd said.

Pal went to the door and ran his paw against it. He barked as if to command Shepherd into the cabin.

Shepherd opened the door. “Go in, Pal.”

Pal stood motionless.

“I’ll be in, in minute, Pal,” Shepherd assured.

Pal moved to the steps of the porch and continued the vigil.

Shepherd stood by Pal’s side. “What do you think, Pal?”

As if he heard, Pal continued his straight forward vigil. He stretched out his head and sniffed.

“What is it?” Shepherd said.

Pal growled low and deep and moved to the door. Shepherd opened the door, walked in, and Pal followed.

Pal slowly moved to the fireplace, grabbed his blanket, and drug it to about five feet in front of the door. He looked at Shepherd and laid on his stomach with his head nearest the door. Shepherd drug his chair around to face the door. He sat with his rifle in his lap.

After an hour Pal’s ears perked and his head rose. Shepherd cautiously moved close to the door and held his ear against it. He heard the crunch of foot steps in the snow.

There was silence. Shepherd felt his heart pound and the blood pulsate through his veins.

Pal growled quiet and low.

“Quiet,” Shepherd said.

Pal relaxed.

Shepherd heard the crunch of footsteps in the snow again, louder and louder. He slowly wrapped his hands on the door handle. He quickly pulled it down and flung open the door. His eyes were wide and muscles tense and ready. He jammed the rifle’s butt into his shoulder and took a brave step onto the porch. His rifle was aimed at a large dark mass with a frightened face.

 

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