“This year’s Christmas story is based on the Hobo that visited my parents home from the Canada Day story “Let There be Love”. I grew up in the house my father built on Pitt St north and one day I took it upon myself to find the exact spot where the Hobo sat – trying to imagine what he was thinking – what he was feeling. This is that story”
It’s the first day of winter break and a great day for the hill. Snow banks up along the southern windows as the girl checks her time while moving about the house. Her mom has set her gear to warm on the furnace grates and electric heaters throughout the house. 70s folk music serenades as she tucks the big nylon mitts under her arms and shuffles out the back door.
Pushing with her left hip, she struggles to open the side door of the garage and isn’t surprised to find everything frozen again despite the boiled water trick of the morning. Smells of summer lay trapped in this cyclical cocoon of winter onions, motor oil and topsoil. Tucked behind the bicycles and fishing gear on the second level, lay the old hard rock maple toboggan purchased by her dad for the six kids before her. Its wooden slats, now a butter-cream yellow are not the only reason for this afternoon’s venture.
Schlepping down the snow packed driveway, the girl checks the road for wary drivers and snow plows that thunder. Within minutes she’s huffing and grabs a mitt full of snow to suck on. The wind is howling but her woolen scarf is tight around her collar and the girl is cheered and excited for her ascent up the big hill.
With ski-doo boots crunching, the girl rolls herself over the embankment and feels hard gravel scrape her snowsuit. She’s the only brave one today, as transports run the highway into a white noise that’s cradled her to sleep for many years. Wiping her brow with bare fingers, the red pull twine of the toboggan cuts deep into her flesh yet only the wind hears her raucous reply. The girl greets the hill as the song starts a tinkling piano. She remembers that day last summer over the Canada Day long weekend, when the traveler visited the house looking for respite and a common humanity at her mother’s kitchen table. Setting a firm pace of steady footings, the girl is awestruck by the beauty of sky as it brightens across the highway onto Wellington Street. Its palette of soft blue waters and rosebud kisses gives her pause. Inhaling the magic of the moment, the girl takes her place at the front of the sled, closes her eyes and pushes off. Crystalline teardrops freeze onto her eyelids as the girl’s smile beams toward heaven.
Lying as an angel, the earth answered in that familiar song of youth, with strength and fortitude towards the girl, her dreams and intentions. Looking towards home, the girl measures the imagined distance from point to point of exactly where the Gentleman of the road had dined on Christmas oranges.
Throughout these many years of searching the aisles of shops and fripperies to learn it’s not the road that forms the soul but the endurance and strength of will to carry on in different patterned shades on notes of musical song. As the very durable wood of her father’s toboggan, or as timeless as the old hobo of her youth, each carries within us, a strength and will of connection.
And there she sat upon that hill, with a memory as clear and true as the many hands that had reached out to help her, and how those hands became her own in time. And surely as the old man before her, Ovy thanked the Creator for helping her face all that came towards her and for making her eyes forever behold the fuchsia sunsets and whose voice she heard on the wind. And she carried the man forevermore like a gem in all the pockets of her clothing and brought him out at every turn as a thing of beauty, giving life to all-the world.
“Oh, Very Young (OVY)” by Cat StevensCopyright Lisa Gray @ December 2019
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