That summer seemed to last forever in the boy's mind. He hardly noticed the leaves turning gold, the sumac scarlet, the nights crisp and his breath cloudy, the fireside comforting. The seasons were changing, from fishing to hunting, and the bane of every boy who ever lived - school - had started again. He wasn't sure yet to whom he should be thankful for weekends, whether it be God or someone else, but he surely was thankful. What with chores around the house and schoolwork to be done at home he hardly had any time to spend with Moses and soon the old man would be heading home down the Connecticut River Valley to Montague for the winter. But this day was theirs. They were off together again, on what to the little boy would be another of life’s great adventures.
"Now look over there, Virgie," Moses said as they walked. “You see that old crumbling pile of moss-covered wood with that big old pine tree fallen across it? How things change! I remember when folks lived there and that pile of rotted wood was a house, and that big old pine was a strong young lad daring the north winds to try and blow him down. It was right after the rebellion when your Grandma Laura was little that we used to come up here to Brandon to visit your cousins, the Kings and Gosses. Everything seemed so young to me then, even the ancient elms and worn down mountaintops. Now it seems we've all grown old together. Those old folks got old quicker than I and even their gravestones out there by the apple trees can't be read anymore. I wonder if anyone remembers their names?"
He paused for a moment and looked at the orchard, overgrown with burdock, its gnarled trees strangled with wild grapevines. "I hope so,” he said, putting his arm around the boy and rubbing his shoulder. "It's important that someone remembers, son. Soon my old house and these old bones will be covered with moss too. Then I'll be Grampa Moss instead of Grampa Moses," he chuckled.
The boy was quiet as they walked along taking in everything his grandfather said. They rounded a bend in the narrow dirt road and soon came to the gristmill where they crossed the creek and hiked along the ledge on the other side of the milldam to one of their favorite hunting and idling spots. With luck, they'd bring home a couple of nice fat squirrels for the pot.
["The Road to the Old Mill". Oil on canvas by Helen Praetorius (7˝" x 9˝"). Gift to Jean Hervey from the artist, circa 1955? From the collection of Robert A. Hervey]
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