By Alkali Springs Correspondent
We had better change our brand of whiskey, as friend Claude Dowen used to say.
It all started on the day that it rained very well in town and it all turned to ice early in the morning. In spite of the ice, we felt that we were up to the challenge of taking our dog for a walk. We strolled on the boulevards as usual down Third Avenue, paying particular attention to crossing sidewalks, streets and driveways. All were as icy as we have ever seen them in Havre. It reminded us of the year we spent living in Missoula. Maybe worse than Missoula really.
Well, gentle readers, going down Third Avenue was all right, so we turned west on Seventh Street. At the bottom of the Second Avenue hill, we decided that it would be good for our heart if we climbed the hill. The dog seemed all for it, so up we went. Not having a lot to do with ice before, little did we know that the real challenge would be to go back down that hill on the south side. And never had we realized that there were such wide driveways to cross. Crossing the first, we knew we were in serious trouble, and there was no way to go other than back. We knew we were just milliseconds from falling and breaking something. We are not proud, so we did the only thing we could do in such dire circumstances. Still holding the dog's leash in one hand, we got on our hands and knees and crawled slowly across the huge chasm, sometimes referred to as a driveway. As luck would have it, about halfway across the driveway, a car topped the hill and drove slowly past us. We heard distinctly a window open in the car. (Remember it was dark that early morning, and foggy so we heard rather than saw.) The car was just sort of a gray lump slowly passing us by. But we surely heard what the driver hollered loudly out of his open window. It was a question.
"Just getting home from the Palace, Robby?" he bellowed loud enough for folks to hear way up at the college. We just kept crawling as he drove off down the hill in the early morning gloom.
On a happier note, years ago a lady told us that a working fireplace in a bedroom is the height of luxury when going to sleep. We do not have a fireplace in our bedroom. In fact, our bedroom is really too small for the bed. But a few months ago, we turned the bed so that when drifting off to dreamland, we are looking out at the fire in the living room fireplace. And you know, she was right. We cannot think of anything more soothing and restful than going to sleep watching flames flicker and dance in the fireplace and their glow reflecting off the living room floors and rugs. Oh, yes, we know all about the inefficiencies of fireplaces. We can probably recite them to you, chapter and verse.
But something there is. Some part of us. And lots of us at that who really like a fire. And when the winter winds are howling outside of our tiny cabin and we are tucked in for a long winter's nap, there is just nothing like a fire to make us feel safe and protected and at peace.
Remember those old lines from Whittier? "What matter how the night behaved?/What matter how the north-wind raved?/Blow high, blow low, not all it snow/Could quench our hearth-fire's ruddy glow."