The snow crunched under-boot. With the axe swinging along the removed silence of the forest was eerie. The bars of shadows lining the ground in the bright light were unevenly spaced, but clearly defined like piano keys tossed haphazard. Each crunch of her boots sounded off key. Then the axe swung. She cursed.

“Damn it,” she sighed.

The tree was frozen solid, transferring a cold shiver down the handle of the axe and into her hand. The walk had taken Sonia an hour at least. But it seemed that it had been for nothing. Just yesterday, the trees in this grove had been fine. Their needles balancing delicately on the ends of each tiny branch now lay crisscrossed under an icy layer of snow. As she let the axe fall to her side her neck bent back looking up the tree’s trunk rising up high above her. The branches were so bare that no shade fell at noon. But it was only 9am now.

She stood with her hand on her hip, still staring upward. Nothing stirred in the sky. She raised her axe and swung at the tree’s trunk again in utter frustration. Pieces of bark came down tinkling slightly as they fell. The sound of another boot interrupted the music.

Sonia spun round her eyes blinking in the cold, searching for movement. A bump protruding from the straight edge of a long bar of shadow drew her eye. She waited, expecting it to move, but as she scanned the tree making the shadow, the bump turned out to be nothing more than a knot in the wood. She moved on.

Though she walked around the tree grove, circling out wider and wider for another mile, Sonia found no usable wood. The trees, all bare, bore the wasted symptoms of trunk frost. Ripples horizontal to the direction of the bark rose upward in circles. It reminded Sonia of the time she visited her mother in Red Rock, Arizona. The layers of pink and orange and tan stacked on top of one another like pancakes. Even the tiny gravel stones appeared to be made of the same sedimentary deposits for miles and miles, baked unevenly by the heat of the desert sun to form those crisp lines. Pancakes sounded wonderful, but there was little chance of that if she went home without some firewood.

This week Dylan Hughes chose the music challenge of Lord Huron’s song Frozen Pines. Dig into her story here.


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