To start at the beginning ...
Ruth shivered. She looked down at the quieting embers in the fireplace and wondered how long she had been sitting there since Sarah left. Shaking her head, she laughed to herself, “Nothing better to do than daydream the light hours away.” The hard wood of the seat brought an ache to Ruth’s hips and back prompting her to move.
She stood shakily with her staff clutched in her right hand and shuffled a few steps toward the fire. Supporting herself heavily on her staff, she bent forward and gripped a fresh log in her gnarled hand. Easing the olive branch into the fire she watched the sparks fly up and circle in the hot air. She carefully wedged another branch in among the coals and smiled as the wood caught and a fresh wave of warmth rolled toward her. In spite of the fire, however, Ruth still felt a chill. A draft from the window crept across the room, long fingers of cold stretching out into all the corners of the house, causing Ruth to go in search of an extra blanket and shawl to wrap around her delicate frame.
Stepping carefully, Ruth approached an old basket that sat on the other side of the fireplace. She leaned her staff against the wall and leaned her hand on the icy, clay surface of the wall, her frail arm supporting her. The basket had a wicker lid that closed with a latch. In several places the twigs were broken and bits of fabric escaped through the holes. It was her wedding basket from years and years ago, filled with blankets passed down from her mother and little scraps of cloth left over from her children’s cloaks; small fragments of her past stored in a treasured basket.
Ruth bent over the ancient hamper and lifted the lid. It fell sideways, one of the hinges breaking free from the woven twigs. Poking through the contents, she pulled out an old grey, woolen blanket and draped it over a nearby chair and then retrieved a dark green shawl that had belonged her mother. Reaching for the lid, she moved to close the basket, but stopped. Folded beneath the shawl lay a rust-colored cloak. With her free hand she reached for her braid that had fallen over her shoulder and fingered the plaits, closing her eyes for a moment. Then she stooped and picked up the cloak, letting the lid of the basket fall closed. The cloak unfolded and draped to the floor, pooling at her feet. She held it to her nose and breathed in the sweet familiar smell. Jacob’s cloak.