What Pegman Saw: Winter Ghosts

Image: Google Street View

Our village is overhung by the forest, the mountain a spiteful mother at our backs.

For generations the coming of warm weather would prod us from our nests of furs. We’d pick and pickle, cut hay, fill larders and log stores. Ready ourselves.

The cold was always hard when it came. People died, but only those buffeted by years, stripped clean by illness.

Then one year the snow lingered, soft grey ghosts of winter hiding in the shadows. Children scuffed the drifts with their boots, prodded them with sticks before moving on to other quarries.

Each summer those ‘ghosts’ retreated less, were harder to ignore.

This year there was no hay. The ground is too hard to cut even for the smallest grave and the saplings dwindle and die through an endless winter.

Summer haunts my dreams.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View. This week we visit Maienfeld, Switzerland. See here to join in.

18 thoughts on “What Pegman Saw: Winter Ghosts

    1. Good question. I was undecided whether this is a tale of the future or of the past. Perhaps it’s a reflection of both. I fear that we’ve felt secure in our food supplies for so long and that this might not always be the case. That we will face a time when we’re watching the weather and failing crops with terror.

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      1. Well, the least likely parts of the wold have had trouble this year. Probably due to the Grand Solar Minimum, although I’m sure others will blame it on something else. Weather is more keenly affected with what’s happening sun-wise, than it is by what we human’s do.

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  1. Ominous look at how precarious life is, living at the cusp of nature’s generosity. The line that especially got me was “even for the smallest grave” – that says a lot about how bad it had gotten.

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    1. Oh. I’m so glad you spotted that. I rewrote the story several times and tweaked that line to suggest that some of the victims are now the youngest members of the community. Can’t imagine the terror of this situation and hope I never have to experience it for myself

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  2. I love everything about this from the hope in past summers to the depression of possibly never seeing one again. “People died, but only those buffeted by years, stripped clean by illness” even this line promises a glimmer of hope until you present this “The ground is too hard to cut even for the smallest grave . . .”

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    1. Aw, thank you so much Lish. You’ve no idea how much I loved your comment. You’ve picked out all the main points I was trying to get across. So glad you liked the story and thank you again for making me smile 🙂

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    1. I remember reading that we here in the UK ride a precarious and very fortunate set of circumstances with the Gulf Stream warming us several degrees higher than our latitude should dictate. If the Gulf Stream shifts (something that could happen as the polar ice caps melt) our average temperatures could plummet to those of Canada. Not a cheerful thought for many of us – sorry Canada. Thanks for the kind comment Josh.

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  3. Great imagination, Lynn! How brave of you to take us right back into prehistory. I loved your metaphor “the mountain, a spiteful mother at our backs” – the word ‘spiteful is very clever. And the way you tell us that it’s no longer only the old and sick who are dying, with “the ground is too hard to cut even for the smallest grave.” Children are now dying. Beautiful writing, Lynn!

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    1. Aw, Penny thank you so much for your kind comment. Love the way you picked up on some of the sections I thought long over. That ‘spiteful mother’ was, as you guessed, not a casual choice, the mountain giving the community protection whilst be capable of destruction too – I was think rock falls, extreme weather and so on. And yes, the smallest grave line was there for that exact purpose, to show the reader that times have grown so bad the people can’t even bury their children. What must it be like to face a climate that changes so quickly a society doesn’t have chance to adapt? Sadly, we’re about to find out. Thank you so much for reading and for leaving such a thoughtful and constructive comment

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