fire, ice, fire

The wood stove is almost lit, and my hands smell like pine sap. Sitting on the floor in front of the stove I look as if I am praying. Hips resting atop folded feet, hands folded on black pants, head tilted as I listen to the crackling fire, waiting for it to tell me that it is time to add another handful of kindling.

Outside a thin column of smoke snakes up into the sky where it meets other bands of smoke in a wraith-like may pole around which our wagons dance. I shove another handful of wood into the flames, and a cough of smoke escapes into the room. I open windows and door reluctantly to the biting cold that arrived yesterday and brought snow that didn’t stick today.

The floors are black with mud, and the wood pile shrinks slowly, counting down the days to a season it is too soon to think about or even mention.

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