Shepherd’s Winter – Part 26

thKEOKQOQWNan’s Tears

Shepherd cooked all morning long. He was anxious about his visitors. He checked the clock that hung on a beam in the kitchen. He constantly heard the hum of snow machine engines that Pal and Trap couldn’t hear. He felt a strong bond with Daniel’s family. It was nothing he had experienced before. Pal and Trap had the feeling something special was planned. It made them fidgety and restless.

Shepherd prepared a big meal: a canned ham scored and with cloves, candied yams, green beans, cranberry jelly, biscuits, diner rolls, pumpkin pie, blueberry pie, apple cider, and white wine.

The sun was three quarters over the southern sky when the dogs reacted to the buzz of distant snow machines.

Daniel and family arrived and soon the cabin was filled with joy, laughter, and noise. They ate and played cards and games. At times Shepherd stopped to observe the joy of family. At times his eyes became moist.

Shepherd stood back and watched Daniel, Maggie, and the boys playing a highly completive and animated game of slapjack. Nan stood on the other side of the table opposite Shepherd.

Nan edged to the other side of the table and whispered to Shepherd, “Are you alright? You seem to be crying.”

“They are called tears of joy,” Shepherd whispered. “I never thought I would be around people this happy and feel this happy.”

Nan gently squeezed his hand and returned to the other side of the table.

The game ended with Maggie the declared winner to a chorus of boos, but she regaled in victory. The only one to cheer for her was Shepherd.

“I see a guitar in the corner,” Nan said. “Do you play it or dust it?”

“I really don’t play well,” Shepherd said.

Izzy walked over the the corner and picked it up. “There is dust on his bookshelf, but none on the guitar,” he said.

“Izzy!” Maggie said. “We are guest. That is impolite.”

“He’s making a point,” Shepherd said, “I play the guitar more than I dust.”

Izzy handed the guitar to Shepherd. “Play us something.”

“I’m shy about it,” Shepherd said.

“We are friends,” Daniel said. “There is no better way to know one another than to share your embarrassment.” Daniel nodded. “Let us be friends.”

“Sure,” Shepherd said, “I’ll play something, but whoever laughs sleeps on the porch.”

Shepherd cradled the guitar and tuned it. He looked into the fire and sung I Am I Said with a few alterations.

“Alaska’s fine, the sun don’t shine most the time

The feeling is laid back

Pine trees grow and temperatures low

But you know never thinking about

Making my way back

Well, I’m New York City born and raised

But nowadays, I’m lost between two shores

Alaska’s fine, now it’s home

New York’s not home to me no more

I am, I said
To no one there
And no one heard at all
Not even the chair
I am, I cried
I am, said I
And I am lost, and I can’t even say why
Leavin’ me lonely still

Did you ever read about a frog who dreamed of being a king
And then became one
Well, except for the names and a few other changes
If you talk about me, the story’s the same one

But I got an emptiness deep inside
And I’ve tried but it won’t let me go
And I’m not a man who likes to swear
But I’ve never cared for the sound of being alone

I am, I said
To no one there
And no one heard at all
Not even the chair
I am, I cried
I am, said I
And I am lost, and I can’t even say why

I am, I said
I am, I cried
I am…”

Everyone applauded except Nan. Shepherd saw a tear roll from her moist eyes.

 

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