Saturday, July 23, 2011

The blizzard of '49

Old Hangtown, Long Ago
Not long after, I was badly startled by a holler and a frantic banging at the door.  I removed the bolt; the door flew open, and there, white with snow, stood Lidge.  “Have you ever seen anything like this?” He inquired excitedly.  “I bet not even Jim Bridger hisself would venture out in a hellacious blizzard like this!”  Lidge slapped his pants to remove the snow as he entered our humble refuge, “Why ain’t ya lit the lamp by now?  It’s dark as it can be!” I lit the lamp and Lidge inspected the stove.  The old Ben Franklin fireplace was loaded with ashes and darn near choked with soot.  Lidge banged on the pipes and cleaned ‘er up best he could.  I busted up some kindling while Lidge searched for coal oil, then we opened the dampers and fired the ol’ gal up.  That heater sucked wind till she chattered and rattled her doors!  It wasn’t long till we had a roarin’ fire.  As darkness fell, we were inundated with snow; drifted, blowing, and falling like powder from the ample cracks of our drafty shelter’s roof.  We hunkered by the Franklin warming our hands and listening to the howling wind, and we prayed that Griz was safe in town cause there ain’t no way that ol’ mule will come home in this!  Twilight arrived early that evening.  The storm abated, and despite occasional flurries, the moon shone down at intervals through a partly cloudy sky, lending an eerie translucence to the scene, and casting curious shadows on the glimmering snow.  I stood in the shelter of the woodshed for a long time that evening, shivering and staring awestruck across the snow-covered Sierras.  I’ve never experienced air fresher, shadows deeper, or a scene so extraordinarily quiet and pristine!  You’ll laugh and think I’m crazy, but it seemed as though I could almost hear the stars.  “Obie’s Quest” 

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