FFfAW : The Great Black Bird


This week’s photo prompt is provided by Yinglan. Thank you Yinglan!

Another two inches of snow had fallen overnight, a frost following close behind. When Lou finally ventured out, the wooden sledge she used to haul firewood skidded waywardly behind her over the hard surface, while she cracked the ice and sank ankle deep, the snow holding her every footfall.

The cold wants me, she thought, her thigh muscles burning, skirts growing heavier, stiffer. 

Not for the first time, she was tempted just to stop, let the snow take her. Take the arthritis swelling knuckles, knees and wrists, take the knocking in her left lung, the ulcer on her ankle that wouldn’t heal no matter how many hawthorn poultices she made. 

She stopped a moment, breathless from the wind and effort. The crows were arguing in the tree canopy, great black wings flapping like huge sheets of paper. Somewhere in the future, a black bird waited for her.

But not today.

Tugging the sledge, she headed on. 

***

Written for FFfAW. See the prompt picture, write a tale and share with others. See here for the full rules and to join in.

 

Advertisements

41 thoughts on “FFfAW : The Great Black Bird

  1. Oh how apt on such a cold day. And the memories returned with it; snow cacked on the hem of my long (hippy) skirt, toes more resembling ice-cubes. And the forever crows. I thank you for the memories. But thankfully, unlike the lady in your story, I’m not prey to arthritis (at least not enough to notice) and apart from mild asthma my lungs are okay. So many people so much worse off than me.

    Like

    1. A winter landscape is a beautiful thing to walk through – if you have the right gear for it, which I never do! I’m always the one shivering, toes frozen, rushing home to hot chocolate and a defrosting shower. Mind you, in Bristol we don’t get many opportunities to use the sledge :). Glad you enjoyed the memories, though I bet they’re not so distant are they? You must get a far bit of wintry weather in your neck of the woods.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Winds so sharp they cut right through you. But snow? Seldom. And seldom does it lay for more than a day. The air is salt-laden, you see. Yet a few miles inland … I have seen the sharp line across the marshes. Snow to west of it, untouched green grasses to east. Truly. It can be that sharply defined. So I’ve not known a good ‘decent’ snow since I moved here in 1983. Previous to that I lived in what’s probably the hilliest area of Norfolk. Great for the sledges.

        Like

      2. The more I learn about where you live, the more I envy you – it sounds so glorious with so many different environments. Not much in the way of snow here in Bristol, though we have had it four or five times since we lived here, which is quite a lot apparently. Saw it more growing up in Derbyshire, though I don’t really miss it I’m afraid

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Snow was a winter given when I lived just west of Norwich. In ‘hill country’ Hey, hilly for Norfolk. I remember one New Year we had to wait for a neighbour to dig us out. Also remember the village being cut off, the roads in and out being treacherous with ice if hills, and if not being flooded. None of that here. It’s just the wind. And the threat of a North Sea Surge. Which, living between river and sea … Ho-hum. But even so, my youngest daughter lives in the Midlands, and tells me she’s having to de-ice her windshield every morning. And it’s only November. Brrr.

        Like

      4. I was only saying to the other half the other day (who’s also from the North West) that I couldn’t go back. I’d love to be nearer my mum, but I couldn’t face being cut off every year, the short growing season in the gardens. Brr indeed 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      5. One of my two neighbours is from Portugal. Guess what she thinks of our winter weather. But she can’t go back to Portugal; she has developed an allergy to the high temperatures. (That’s how she describes it, but I think it’s probably heat rash or hives)

        Like

      6. I’d love to love somewhere where we have 9 months of nice British June weather, where it’s mild but not achingly hot, some rain but not six months of cloud and gloom where you come out vitamin D deficient. Do you think such a climate exists? 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      7. I used to think New Zealand was like that. Apparently not. No, such a land exists only in our dreams. Though if you do find it, let me know and I’ll come join you.

        Like

      8. Isn’t it? So, I either need to become another JK Rowling through my writing … or marry JK Rowling! Given the rarity of such literary phenomena as her career, the latter might be easier despite us both being heterosexual! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Yes, I love them too. Love any corvid really. I was watching a group of magpies hopping round my garden today – I know they’re bullies and many people don’t like them but I find them fascinating. As you say, very bright for birds. Thanks again

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great descriptions as always, of a harsh life. This reminded me of myself – every time the cold weather comes around again I feel all the old aches and pains that are absent all summer! At least I don’t have to pull a sledge about to survive. PS Love the water and beach photo – I could use some of that now too!

    Like

    1. Thank you Iain. Yes, always more of a struggle in the cold weather, isn’t it? Just chill and miserable and sniffly times. Glad you like the sea photo – thought it was time to ring the changes.

      Like

  3. This is a great snippet of daily winter life. Your lady sounds a great character, with many more tales to tell.

    Like

  4. Beautifully described as I’ve come to expect from you. I could feel the burn, the cold, the arthritic pain (unfortunately). Life was/is harsh for some.

    Like

    1. Sadly, very true. Lou became a timeless figure as I wrote her – she could be stumbling around a modern, remote countryside, could be 150 years ago. Hard times have no historical or geographical boundaries. Thank you for reading Dale 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes. Though in today’s world, Lou would probably be wearing pants 😉 Though not impossible to be in skirts! 🙂

        Like

      2. It’s true, most of us wear trousers don’t we – much to my husband’s chagrin. He should try working, shopping, walking long distances in skirts – he’d soon understand why I stopped wearing them 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I love wearing dresses… but not when I’m stacking wood! There’s a reason trousers became popular with the women-folk 😉

        Like

  5. Death can wait. Today, Lou has work to do, despite everything that is ailing her body. Nice story. It like the sentence, ” the cold wants me” is it implying time is running out?

    Like

  6. Love that she’s a fighter still, but sad that she suffers so much, & has no one to help her. Great mood and atmosphere, also alluding to the blackbirds and the possibility of death. But not today thank goodness. Love your new header btw, I’m sure it’s been there awhile, but it’s so peaceful.

    Like

    1. The new header is very new, actually. Had some tech problems and changed the colour background and had to swap the header image to help that. I like it though – I do love the sea. I’m glad you liked the atmosphere of this one, that struggle she has against the world and her own body. Getting old is hard for many people I think. Thanks for reading

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome. I think for most of us aging is scary, maybe even more so b/c people live longer, but not often in health. My Baba is 95 and my Grandma 89, both in their ‘last homes’ so to speak. My Baba goes with the flow, & at 95 is quite spry. My grandma has been in her place maybe 3/4 a year. She was in hospital the first 1/4 and diagnosed with dementia. Had a bad infection too & that made her fall a few times. She was looking so frail the few months before, but she really went downhill b4 coming to her seniors home. For her, it’s difficult not only that she’s so dependant in others for daily things we take for granted, showers, going to the washroom etc, but more so that her mind can’t focus. She knows it too. She tries to get a thought out, gets interrupted by a passing memory or one of her current delusions, and then finds her way back to finish her thought. It’s frustrating for her a great deal, along with not being able to always find the right words. Seeing them both how they are, though, it does make one afraid of aging and not aging well, not under your own control. On the other hand, I know through won’t be here long so I visit whenever possible. That’s important too.
        Perhaps, giving these aging people purpose w/ their family’s and friend. More thoughts. Lol.

        Like

      2. That’s so sad, how your grandma’s health is deteriorating and her mind along with it. The saddest things is, perhaps, that she’s aware of her mind slipping away. My mother in law recently died after suffering from a cancerous brain tumour. Towards the end a large part of her personality had gone, her language was mixed up (she couldn’t find the right words for what she wanted to say) but all in all, she wasn’t in pain and was strangely happy, almost childlike in her happiness, the lack of words not even seeming to bother her. It’s horrible to see a person disappearing, but we know how lucky she was – to be pain free, to not be in distress. Getting older is scary but it’s so lovely you’re visiting your elderly relatives – even if they don’t always remember you clearly you’ll bring them happiness and that’s so important towards the end.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thanks Lynn. I try whenever I can. It’s slightly terrifying that one day that could be us. But then, more so fir them at at some point. I’m happy your MIL, was happy when she passed. Even if that was painful fir her family, she was good. That’s relieving. Have a great week 🙂

        Like

      4. Thanks Amanda. Yes, these times are tough for everyone, but really she had a better, more dignified end than many. As you say, something to prepare ourselves for as we age. Have a good week too

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.