As The Cranes Fly
2016 - William C. Highsmith

The boy watched as the cranes flew by on their long journey to the south. They could escape the coming cold of winter. He envied their freedom.

His mother named her son after the individual mentioned within the book of 1st Samuel as a friend of David. This land was where Jonathan was born some eleven and a half years ago. It was all he knew except for the stories his mama used to tell about the cities in the lower forty-eight. He would really love to hear another one, but his mama died last summer from complications of cancer. This has become a very lonely place to live with only his father, and the family dog named Henry.

The leaves were changing color; the fireweed was in full bloom, and the garden patch was about bare. It was a good harvest. His Dad knew all about the need to grow and store food in order to eat during the long and dark times ahead. He moved here from Tennessee, some twenty years ago, where he and Jonathan's mother were school teachers. Since it is about eighteen miles to the nearest school, the boy has always been home-schooled. That's what winters are for!

As the cranes flew out of sight, the boy called for his dog, "Come on, Henry. We have chores to do."

Henry, a cross between a husky and likely a grey wolf, was raised by some mushers to be trained as a sled dog. However, his duties as a working dog did not last long as he had broken a leg and was about to be shot when David - Jonathan's father - intervened and asked to take possession of the dog as a pet for his son. David set the leg and it, and the dog's spirit, healed. That was five years ago. Now the boy and his dog are constant companions. The big dog has proved his worth many times - warning and protecting the young boy and his family from bears, wolves, and moose as they appeared on the homestead.

There are always chores to do. These include hauling the firewood David has cut and drawing water from the well. These tasks are menial and do not take much thought. That is good since his thoughts are mostly about growing up to join the Air Force. He was struck with this ambition and fantasizes about it all the time since visiting Elmendorf Air Force Base near Anchorage last year.

The days are growing shorter and time is nearing for school days. These are times when he 'hits the books' by the light from the coal oil lamps. It is not something he looks forward to.

The cold wind is starting to blow. Now and then snow flakes drift by.......

By William C. Highsmith - November 25, 2016