The first snow of the season was falling hard outside the window. Had been falling for hours, and it showed no signs of letting up.
It was the middle of October.
Linda looked out at the footprints leading toward the barn, not an hour old but fading like an old man’s memory.
“Mommy, I’m hungry,” a small voice said behind her. She turned, managing a halfhearted smiled.
“Good morning, Philip,” she said. “We’ll eat just as soon as your daddy’s back from the barn with the milk.”
“I’m cold,” the boy said rubbing his eyes.
Linda looked at the hearth, where a few nuggets of wood glowed. They weren’t ready for winter yet. She wasn’t sure they ever would be.
“Go sit at the table,” she said, walking across the room to guide her son by the shoulder. “Get your feet off the cold floor. Pa will be in directly.”
The boy hopped up onto a tall cane bottom chair. Linda tussled his hair and strode to the fireplace. She picked up a small log, one of just a few remaining, and lay it across the ashes.
One hand on her low back for support, one hand caressing her bulging belly, Linda watched the fire nibble into the wood.
“Pa!” Philip shrieked after she had been standing their awhile. Linda turned her head to find Pete staring in the window, grinning.
Philip opened the door, and Pete stepped inside, where the boy jumped into his father’s arms.
“What were you doing out there?” Linda asked as she, too, hugged her husband.
“Oh, just gazing into my crystal ball,” he said, grinning.
“Your crystal ball? You mean the window?”
He shook his head. “What’s inside.” He nodded toward his son, rubbed Linda’s belly, and winked at her. “I can see the future, you know?”
“You bet,” Pete said. “And from where I was standing, the future looks pretty great for the Martin family.”
Linda hugged her two boys, and glanced out the window again. She thought the snow was letting up, just a little.