Friday, December 7, 2012

Midwinter Memories {seven}

To start at the beginning ...

The door to the right of the fireplace swung open, the hinges protesting in the silence.  “Good morning, Aunt Ruth.”  A young woman ducked into the house carrying a small basket and a ceramic jar.  She edged around the bench in front of the fire and set down her parcels before tending to the fire.  She worked in silence, laying small logs on the burning embers and coaxing fresh flames.  Turning she smiled at Ruth and patted her bony knees.  “How are you this morning, Auntie?”
Sarah was Ruth’s great-niece - the daughter of Andrew’s only son.  She and her husband, John, cared for the inn now, having purchased it from Ruth’s husband before he passed away.  His last gift to his wife, a provision for her care in her twilight years.
“I slept well.  This morning has been full of powerful memories.  So vivid.  So rich.  That morning sixty years ago, playing out in my mind, moment by moment.  Sweet and yet ...” Ruth trailed off.  Sarah nodded, understanding etched in her young face.  
“Would you like to talk about it?  I have some time before John will be back.  He ate before heading out to tend to the sheep.”  Sarah stood and adjusted her dress before sitting on the bench.  “I brought you some fresh bread and a bit of milk,” she added, holding the meal out to Ruth who took the basket in her trembling hands.
Ruth chewed slowly, her mind flitting back decades, attempting to seize an image that she could describe for Sarah.  “It was so busy.  All morning, Mama and I baked bread and shook out rugs and blankets.  The was a constant stream of travelers marching through the streets, looking for lodging.  And it was cold.  So very cold, with the ground hard as iron.  Even as the sun rose over the hills, it did little to thaw out the city.  The well stayed frozen until long into mid-morning.  It was Jacob who knocked on the door to tell me I could fetch water.”

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