(This story appears in my book, Seasons of Imagination. An earlier version was posted here years ago.)
“Careful, we don’t really need a drink now, do we? Gotta pay more attention.”
Stan stood shivering with delayed reaction as he watched the raging river flow by just below his feet. A week of unusually warm temperatures and pouring rain had melted most of the remaining snow creating a torrent in place of the usual babbling stream.
“They don’t call it ‘mud season’ for nothing,” Stan said out loud as his attention was drawn to the slick spot that had almost tipped him into the rushing water. The bank had eroded into the river taking a good chunk of the path with it. The mud around the cave-in made this collapse doubly dangerous. He’d only just caught his balance in time, his momentum carrying him to the edge of the void.
The reaction of his near fall had shaken him more than he cared to admit so he stood watching the water, waiting until his nerves had settled down. Mount Nodbadigat, which appeared to rise directly out of the river, caught his attention. He had seen this small mountain a thousand times but never noticed its unique shape. It looked like something but he just couldn’t put his finger on it. Trying to puzzle it out he unconsciously took his jacket off and tied it around his waist. Feeling calmer, Stan shrugged his shoulders and turned down the path away from the river and mountain.
The conditions were perfect for an early spring hike. Technically it would still be winter for a few more days, but how often does New Hampshire see 70 degree weather in the middle of March? Stan had played hooky from work to get out and walk off some of his cabin fever. He loved to see the seasons change and it wasn’t often he got a chance to walk in Nodbadigat State Park quite this early. He was glad he did, for it was beautiful, a monochromatic masterpiece built largely of browns and grays. The pines supplied splashes of green, but it was a dark green that tended almost to black in the distance. Many of the trees were beginning to bud and some shoots were sprouting, all of which added spice and accents to the stark and dramatic play of dark trunks and golden sunlight.
Stan stopped.Continue reading