The winds had cleaned out the sky, and not a feather-wisp of cloud was left to soften the icy glitter of the stars. The mercury shrank small, and deep chills moved through the waters of the lake. By morning the lake was at rest; the waves that had once moved at the back of breezes lay flat, covered with a cold and crystal shell. The turmoil of autumn was stilled, and the peace of winter reflected a steel blue in the crisp early morning air.
I walked our four-year-old son, Joel, to the edge of the lake. With our heels we scuffed loose pebbles from the frozen sand and laid up a small store of them. Then in the sharp quiet of the frozen morning I shushed him. I cocked my arm and threw. The pebble arched into the silence, hung, then struck. The sound was marvelous. The singing of rock on ice glissandoed across the lake, and the far shore threw it back on an echo. Joel was enthralled, and the enchantment of it captured him as he threw pebble after pebble, their songs racing back to him through the ice and air.
When the pebbles ran out we stopped to look for more. Just then we heard a small stress sound ping through the ice, then the tinkle of ice breaking. As we looked around, we noticed a small furry head pop through the ice under our neighbor’s dock. In a moment it was followed by another. The beavers in residence were coming up for a breath of crisp air.
That evening, before the children’s bedtime, Ann bundled them up against the night air, and I took them for a walk. An advantage of living in the country is that street lamps don’t dim the view of the heavens at night. Besides, that night the moon gave us all the light we needed to walk through the woods to the road. Joel clutched my right hand and Amy, his little sister, my left. When we left the cover of trees, Joel looked up and saw the moon.
“Daddy, Daddy, somebody took half the moon.” He was almost in tears because of the loss. Little Amy took up the chorus in her squeaky little voice and asked, “Why somebody take half moon?”
As I held their warm little hands in mine, we walked down the frosty road and talked. I tried to explain why we could see only half of the moon, and looking down into their upturned faces, I believe they understood. Oh, maybe not about the moon, but they understood that I love them very, very much.