I have climbed this steep hill many times. The day is near its end. My lungs take in the cold, clear air. I pause in my ascent to gaze at the weather-beaten barn. The building has stood valiantly at the crest of the hill since 1918. The boards, creaky with age, are crumbly and dank. The few remaining shingles are hanging askew. Boards, with rusty nails intact, are littered around the barn.
The sight of the barn, however, is not my goal. The goal I seek is the beautiful, end-of-the day view from the top of the hill. From here, the snow glitters coldly as if sunlight is being reflected from the tiny ice prisms. The hills form a ravine in which a bubbly spring flows, and the ice of the pond at the end of the ravine reflects the glare of the setting sun. There is no sound except the plaintive wailing of the wind between the power lines.
Moments pass, and as I watch, the snow slowly turns gray; the ice is once again flat and dead. The life-giving sun has set, and the hills and valley have lost their majestic quality. I suddenly notice how cold it has become, and after one last glance at the darkened valley and reddened sky, I turn and start for home.
For my father, Franklin Ringer, who passed away on this day 19 years ago. I still miss you.