December 17, 2017
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Special Corner - Wayne's Writings and Poems Christmas with Euclid January 20, 2010
 

It was chilly that evening and mom and I were getting ready for bed. I just added two chunks of dry oak to the old woodstove hoping that it will keep burning through the night. We were alone this year for the Christmas season but were going to visit our children a week after the New Year. The wind came up so I got the fire dampened down as to burn nice and slow. Mom walked into the bedroom with her nightclothes on. She said "leave the door open, dear because the bedroom is really cold". As for me, well it was my forth-big yawn. This was a signal that I would sleep well. Into bed and under the covers was a quick yet precise ritual each night, because the room was quite cool. Mom always liked a cool bedroom; so much so that at one time I thought that somehow I would make the ideal bed just for her. In the summertime she likes a cool bed with a lot of heavy comforters. In the wintertime it is much the same except for the odd real cool night. The bed I thought I would make for her would kind of resemble a filing cabinet drawer. One that had a long slide in it that the bed for mom would set in. I then could tuck her into bed, close the drawer, and she would be outside while I resumed a normal sleep in a warm bedroom.

The flashlight was at the head of the bed where we always kept it and there was another one near the chair by the woodstove. These places were as important as were flashlights, as the cabin had little electricity, and it was a long walk down the driveway to the car. Flashlights were a big necessity then. I blew out the candle and set my head into the pillow with anxious thoughts of the grandchildren seeing what Santa left in the line of gifts. When I was a child I would lie in bed and wonder if I had been good enough or was I only going to get a lump of coal in my stocking for not being as good as I should have been. The cabin creaked a little, as the wind seemed to be getting a little brisk. I drifted off into a long winter sleep beside mom and her thoughts blended with mine, I think.

YIPE!! YIPE!! Broke the silence of the long night. It was the dogs. They were whimpering a little. At least that is what I was hearing when I woke up. I thought; "poor dogs need to have some comforts also". Creatures that would gladly give their lives to defend you need to have a warm bed some nights. The floor was cold on my bare feet as I pulled on my snow boots. Quietly I went out and untied the three dogs, one at a time, and as was the custom they each run across the lot a couple of times before going to the door. In they came. It was a mad rush and sure enough they woke up mom; she didn't always appreciate the love of dogs that wake her up with a cold snout. But they were in the house now and out of that bitter cold. A little playing with the dogs and soon they were all curled up in the spots they could find beside Mom and I. Soundly we all drifted into the slumber of a good nights sleep. The cold breeze blowing like lullabies lulled us all off to sleep. The cabin creaked a bit with the cold as if it was still settling and all was quiet again.

Meanwhile, up between the rafters in the ceiling, a little family of mice were settling down for the long cold night also. Momma mouse was dressed in her nightclothes and waited for poppa mouse to come to bed with her. She peeked out into their little living room and saw poppa mouse just looking at the little stockings that were hung up by the wood stove chimney. "Not much here for the little ones this year", he was thinking to himself. He sighed then walked slowly into the bedroom and slipped into bed beside momma mouse. At least our beds are warm, thought poppa mouse and he snuggled into the pink insulation nest.

The morning came all to quick for me that day. It was a real cold one as I put on my wool socks and went to check the stove. A couple of the embers still smoldered away but the heat was gone. A bit of dry cedar soon had the stove crackling and you could feel the warmth of that wood fire. There is something about a wood stove, and the heat it gives, that just can't be compared to any other source of heat. After a few minutes the first blurb of the coffee percolator started our ritual of the morning in our little cabin. Soon the aroma layered its way towards the bedroom and through the door, which had been left open a crack.

The three dogs found their way to the kitchen waiting a breakfast that was somewhat elaborate for we cabin dwellers. The dog food, being not the highest quality but not the lowest either, soon was dressed in a mixture of flour and water with added chicken broth to bring a pleasant aroma even to me. It did smell just like a chicken and dumpling stew. Well I will admit that I did, on occasion, take a spoonful to check out the flavor. It passed the taste test as usual on these cold days. Setting three bowls of food on the floor requires a system devised only by trial and error. Three animals with ravishing appetites was not an easy job to feed all at the same time. The dishes had to be dropped in the regular places at exactly the same time. The dogs sitting in their places now rushed to the dishes dropped at precisely the same instant. If one dish got put down first then all three dogs were at it and meant a little scraping was common till the procedure was perfected. Ravishing appetites, now appeased, and cleaned dishes soon were displayed about the kitchen floor. Now full tummies were gratefully received and the dog members of the family soon found places to lay down by the wood stove.

Well mom had a hot cup of coffee with me and she said something that I remember her saying back in the summer. "Did you hear that strange noise last night" she exclaimed, but being very deaf, I can honestly say that I hear very little without hearing aids in my ears. Well, she said it was the strangest sound. It was just outside the bedroom window. It sounded as if some animal was grunting or something. Such a strange noise it was. What would make that kind of a noise, she asked? I had no idea what it was but I made up my mind to find out. I got dressed and walked outside. The snow was deep but I walked around to where the bedroom window was.

I was so surprised at what I saw I was almost breathless. It was standing there in all the magnificence of a very important reindeer. He was looking at me closely and for a moment I thought, this is dangerous. But that thought was immediately replaced with a strange desire to communicate with this beautiful reindeer. There was eye contact and the reindeer seemed to get that message to me somehow, probably telepathically I suppose. Needless to say I thought that I was hallucinating and I rubbed my eyes a couple of times thinking that this could not be true, but sure enough it was standing there and it told me that his name was Euclid. He had been sent to see Mom and I by the spirit of the forest that surrounds our cabin. Pop, he said, I am having a few hunger pangs and I have eaten most of the hay that the dogs used for nesting in the cold. I sure could use something that would fill my stomach. As you can see I am quite big. Much bigger than the other reindeers. Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen and even Rudolph are smaller than I am. You can see how being this big could cause problems with flying. It is quite a tricky thing. Just imagine how tricky learning to fly is without the added problem of being so much bigger than all the other reindeer on Santa's team. Well, now back to there being no more hay in the dog houses and snow covering everything else. The hunger pangs are starting again.

What a pickle this is. Could this possibly be for real or did the cranberry juice I was drinking yesterday start to ferment? What will I tell mom, I thought.

Mom, Mom, I cried out, we have a guest here for breakfast. What are you talking about, who would ever come here this early in the morning? It is Euclid I said, as if it was the return of a long lost friend. I walked to the front door with Euclid and Mom was sure startled. She was startled so much she spilled her coffee and the three dogs started to bark and howl as Euclid pushed his head into the living room.

Euclid said "way too hot in here for me with my new winter coat". Well we all just stood there flabbergasted by the talking reindeer named Euclid. The dogs run around him and between his legs and had a merry old time. It was as if they were all dogs or maybe all reindeer because they seemed to be happy that he came for breakfast. Breakfast I thought. What do you think Mom? Euclid is very hungry this morning. Mom said that there is that bag of oats we got by mistake at the feed store. Great, I thought, and a good chance to use up the six bushels of apples that we had good intentions of drying. Sounds good to me Pop, Euclid said. My favorite kind of breakfast. Mom soon came to the door with a pan of oats and apples for Euclid. Mom looked at me and said, aren't we forgetting something? What could be forgotten? The dogs had eaten, we had eaten as well and now Euclid is munching away at the dish of food? We both said it at same time, what do the mice family have to eat?

In a moment I had cut up several squares of cheese and put them along the wall below their nest. Well, it is Christmas and these little critters need a treat too. A dish of water and a couple of soda crackers with crunchy peanut butter seemed to be appropriate.

It seemed that we were not as alone this Christmas as we thought for we had the company of Euclid and the mice family, several cotton tail rabbits under the bird feeder which was full of assorted song sparrows, and a couple of Blue Jays. Somehow, I said to mom, everything seems to be complete with our supposedly all-alone Christmas. The sun now was cresting over the glistening tree branches showing a display of rainbow colors suitable for angels. Euclid said he was going to wander over to the cedar swamp to browse for a while but would be back in time for snacks. We both said at the same time. Don't go near the road, as there are many reckless drivers these days. Then Mom and I smiled and hugged each other. Yes it was complete. Mom went back to the cabin to attend the rising bread and I brought a few armfuls of wood to the porch.

After we had our lunch the dogs were all tied up, with fresh bedding for their houses. We had baked beans for dinner with that wonderful fresh bread. It was so comfy we snoozed for an hour or so. It started to snow and the temperature seemed to warm up a bit as it always seems to do when it snows. I looked out the window in the living room and saw Euclid coming up the steep hill to the south of the cabin. He was home now, he said, and of course hungry again for the oats and apple treat we promised him. Sunset seem to come early in the winter especially on snowy days it seems to darkens up real quick. We put the electric lights on that night, as we were to stay up and listen to the news broadcast on our little portable radio. We had one light in each room and used candles quite a bit and kerosene lamps too. These don't give out too much light but they are something peaceful to look at. I looked out the window and saw the snow had stopped and I could see Euclid's footprints going into the little beech grove, probably wanting to eat a few beechnuts for the evening. The moon was just breaking over the tree line in the southeast and was in full bloom with that ever so pleasant silver color gracing its size, which seemed to be somewhat bigger tonight. We dressed up warm and went outside. The dogs knew what was coming. A nice walk in the moonlight tonight.

This night even I could hear some wolves in the distance doing the moonlight ritual. There was also a couple down in the valley below that you could hear answering, as if they were speaking in some mysterious language of rhythm, harmony and synchronicity all combined.

The snow was piled up quite high on the trail to the west of our property and we were hitting our heads on the branches of the old ironwood tree that gracefully drooped across the trail. The fresh snow, with the full moon and the silver light, is something that is a little hard to describe, It effects our sight and our balance and it brings with it some peace dearly needed these days, in this world. It was beautiful and shortly we heard Euclid prancing around behind us wanting the dogs to play again with him. They soon passed us with the rumble of their paws and hoofs just beating the snow like a drum. They did these crazy circles several times then they stayed with us on the trail so we could finish our walk.

The fresh snow with all the bright light of the moon gave a crispy luster to the whole forest scene and it was getting cooler as the snow started to squeak under our boots like some kind of small musical instruments available to only those who want to venture out in the night. But it was not night, at least it was not true night, because the whole area just shone with beauty and there was plenty of light to make our shadows dark on the new snow. Mom brushed the snow away from the fallen tree at the end of the trail and she said lets just sit for a few moments and drink in the beauty. We did just that and the dogs soon sat by our feet as if to keep our toes warm. Euclid was blowing steam from his nostrils like an old steam engine starting to pull a train uphill. A perfect picture we made and no artists or photographers out here when you need one.

After sitting for a while and drinking in the beauty of a moonlit night on Spirit Mountain it was time to head back to the cabin. The dogs came in with us this time now, as it was getting quite cold. After brushing away the snow from our feet and hanging up our coats, we sat in the living room for a while. Mom attended the fire this time and I sat back and relaxed. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the mouse family. They were not up behind the stove in the pink insulation but down on the floor. The whole family of mice was near the wall behind the stove where I put their treats for them earlier. Three of them at the water dish and the others were munching on the cheese and peanut butter snacks we had set out for them earlier. They looked up from their feast and seemed to say thanks Mom and Dad for giving us such a nice Christmas snack. It was a day that we will never forget. Mom and I went into the bedroom and settled into a nice winter sleep.

The morning soon arrived with the promise of a nice sunny day. The snow was falling from the tree branches like organized small blizzards and the branches revealed the tree they were part of. Mom must have done up the fire just right because the cabin was warmer this morning. I put on the coffee and placed a couple of slices of bread on the stovetop to toast up to the golden brown color that we like. Feeding the dogs now was the next item on our daily agenda, however a few pieces of toast seemed to get gobbled up by them somehow as seemed to happen now and then.

It was another day of great joy and closeness of a wonderful family. When evening came and the moon was up almost in full bloom Euclid said, "My work is finished for this season I have been part of a big family. It was a great pleasure and comfort to me to be part of this wonderful family" Euclid then turned and ran to the beech grove and took such a mighty jump that he glided over it and into the night sky. A circle or two and he flew over cabin and away into the face of the moon and exclaiming! "Merry Christmas and thanks for the love. I will be around for many of these pleasant days". In the front window the three dogs and several mice were there to be part of the farewell. Then mom and I hugged each other and we said the spirit of the forest gave the greatest Christmas to us. Then we both said thank you Great Spirit of the forest. Merry Christmas to you too for such a gift you sent us with Euclid's presence.

THE END

Wayne Anthony Dec 14 03
Edited by Marjory

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