The first time he felt a need to walk, he was a boy of six or seven. He had awoken one winter morning with the urge to be outside, alone. And so decided to go, and felt the good feeling that decisions often have. He zipped on his snowsuit, wrapped his face in his scarf, and left the house while his parents slept.
The early sun was somewhere behind the bright gray sky, and the snow was so bright he couldn't look at it without forcing himself, but he forced himself and felt the strange, pleasing feeling of snow-dazzled eyes. The snow in front of the house was not new, mussed with boot-tracks filled with gray water; but the snow in the back still followed its own created planes, on and on, untouched—and it was this that guided him to take his walk in the back. He walked and listened to the crunch of his boots and felt the cold air. A few black birds crossed the sky like a meaningless thought. Beside him trotted the ghost of the old dog that had died recently enough to still follow him.
Read the rest of "Winter's Wooden Sparrows" by Erin Pringle-Toungate in Lake Effect,
due out in January 2012 Now available
Photo used from Getty Images, with permission/
Dirk Wustenhagen Imagery