come christmas it’s a tightrope

by underswansea


Willow and I went out late this afternoon for some red willow and cedar branches to decorate the Christmas table. It has warmed up to about -5° during the day.

We grabbed the red willow first, which was a mistake. By the time we made it into the creek bottom, where the cedar grows, it was getting dark.

The best trees are on the other side of the creek. I wasn’t about to cross on snow and ice covered logs. I eyed up some small boughs, when I heard ice break.

In dim light I saw Willow, caught in the current, flowing down the creek.

She was too close to the edge and broke through the ice. I tried to follow her ride in the fast water but the brush was too thick. The banks are high on either side of the creek for a little dog.

I was a little worried, but she is tough. It wasn’t more than a couple minutes and she appeared. Of course,she swam to the wrong side of the creek.

There we were, her on one side and me on the other.

I found a log jam to cross. It was ugly. Willow cheered me on from the other side. There was no way I was going to be able to take her back across the same way.

I figured since I was on the side with the good cedar I’d cut a bunch. Even with ice balls attached to her wire hair, Willow didn’t seem to be bothered.

Further down the creek there was a big tree across that I used to hop, skip and jump across. Of course that was when I was much younger.

The tree was still there with a foot of snow on top. I inched across with Willow behind me. The water rushed not two feet below my feet. I had reconciled that I would fall in and have to grab branches to pull myself up the bank. We weren’t far enough away from the truck, and it wasn’t cold enough that I would freeze to death.

Instead, I made it. Willow made it, and the cedar branches made it.

It was damn near pitch black by the time we threw the boughs in the back of the truck.

Willow was happy and I was out of breath.

The cedar, from the far side of the creek, thanks to Willow, will look good on the Christmas table.