Tired of captivity, we escaped through a secret passage. That night, hidden in tall rushes by the river, a thousand small creatures discussed bygone times. We lay on our backs, looking at the stars, listening.
In winter I feed the birds. Finches, sparrows, jays make cheery chatter as I watch from the window. I’ve learned all their names by now, living on this rural road for over thirty years. At first, books told me the difference between finches – House and Purple. Now I just know. I also know the names of rare visitors to the feeder like Redpolls or Brown Creepers.
In January, Kim’s friend Bruno came for a visit to our small house on Vineyard Road. Kim and Bruno had been out of touch for over thirty years following a friendship forged in their college dormitory. They had made the effort to attend each other's wedding, which took place just six months apart but also worlds apart. After that, life intervened and Kim and Bruno had gone their separate ways. Recently, Bruno had reappeared. He arrived, unannounced, one afternoon at our winery tasting-room and now Bruno and Kim were friends again.
While we prepared dinner in a cozy kitchen, snow squalls, in a white fury, tore across corn fields below our house. Outside, the temperature was minus six. Inside, we were dining by candlelight, drinking a bottle of our own wine – Cabernet Franc 2013 – and eating Bruno’s Pasta Bolognese.
During the meal I found myself recalling a story about waiting in line at a store register behind a young boy with a crippled leg. His farm clothes were neatly washed and mended and when it was his turn at the register, he counted out rolls of coins, pulled from deep in his pockets, to pay for one small bag of birdseed. As I watched, I had thought of Tiny Tim in Charles Dicken’s – A Christmas Carol. There, in front of me, stood Tiny Tim with rolls of coins and a small bag of birdseed proclaiming – God bless us, everyone!
In describing this to Bruno, I think I was trying to explain choices Kim and I have made. I suppose, unwittingly, Bruno had played a part in these decisions when, long ago, he took Kim with him to Dambel, Italy when they were young.