The freezing rain transforms into crystal icicles, sealing the cave’s entrance with their three-foot long, pointed swords.  Bundled in layers of heavy clothing and complete with my wooden walking stick, I rest my back against a dusty boulder and wait.  Sealed away from society and its usual cacophonies, in some strange way, I feel safe here—isolated in the dark womb of nature.  In the solitude, the pouring rain, pounding on my rock tomb, creates a melodic rhythm, an almost orchestral, lyrical tune.  I inhale and exhale, sniffle once, cough twice. . .I keep beat as my stiffened gloved fingers tap against each other.   It’s then that I recognize the song, am familiar with its half-notes, its rests, its staccato pitches.

I can’t recall the name of the piece, only that I have sung the words many times—so many times, in fact, that I know the words from memory.

My musical moment interrupts as the sound of crunching snow nears. I listen with intention as the noise comes closer.  My eyes watery, nearly blurred vision from the cold, I see the edges of a silver-grey outline.  I blink once, twice.  Standing at the entrance of the hollow is a  majestic wolf, his head raised to the sky, his pink tongue extended as the pellets of nourishment fill him, a fountain of refreshment. I lay still, watching as much in awe as in fright.  Soon, he meanders off into the distance, until his bushy tail is out-of-view.

I cross my arms, grab my shoulders.  I rock forward, backward.  The repetitive motion calms me until I no longer feel, no longer think.

Then like ice sculptures, figures made of glass, wings transparent, in silence, they come.  Lift the stranded stranger, carry him. . .fly away. . .to holy ground.

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