The Hill

By D. G. Shipton


The sun breaks the darkness of the eastern sky.  The bare gray limbs of east maple woods reach their ice-covered fingers to glisten in the warming sun.  The sun begins to hit the open fields of my face, and melt spots of snow revealing the grasses beneath.  I feel the warmth through my blanket of white reminding me of springs coming soon, through the blanket of white.  My large maple tree stands on my brow empty of leave, yet calling out to rest of the trees down below, as if to shout of hope to return to grow. The nights remain cold, and they will for some time, but the days grow longer in the warming sunlight.

I watch out across the open field and see small glimpses of life in the swamp down below.  Small glimpses of life in trees to the east, and I know spring will sometime soon return to my view.  I see small movements in the edge of the woods near the pond, as squirrels run and play and scurry around.  A lone porcupine wanders out near the pond, drinking some water from a small thawed out spot in the ice.  The Red-Winged Blackbirds are resting on the brush near the pond eating some dried berries revealed by the melting of snow.

Across the large fields near the eastern Maple woods I see movement of people walking along.  They walk through light snow to avoid the drifts in the shade.  They come carrying buckets, drills, and spiles in hand, to try to glean sugar from the trees thawing flow.  Soon the aroma of Sweet smelling smoke will drift my way from on the breeze from the east.  Soon the frozen night of winter will give way to the spring.


The warm breeze is blowing across the field of my face.  The grass is now greening and flowers appear, waving in the wind.  I see below my rolling face a new generation of Canada Geese.   A mother and father and five little goslings are swimming upon the small pond below.  A deer and her fawn slowly sneak from the wood of the swamp to eat of the tender shoots growing in the field.  The mother keeps watch, as the fawn jumps around.  They never go far from the briers near the swap, and with every noise the come to a stop. The call of a song bird is heard from near the pond singing with joy another year has begun.

My Maple tree, like a top hat I wear, is full of green leaves offering shade and protection to all who draw near.  I gaze across the miles where I can see the farms of neighboring lands rise before my sight.  I am reminded of days now gone past, when I watched the old barn below me, as the cows gather in and roosters once crowed to welcome the sun, as rises above the trees of the woods.  The farmer would carry his pail in his hand, and smoke flavored would bacon and maple would drift toward my face.

In summer breeze, sometimes the children come to sit beneath the branches of my large lone maple tree.  They picnic and dream of lands far away.  They look at the clouds an imagine a story.  They play games of war or tag ‘round my face, and I watch with joy with each one who races down my slope.


A lone man now sits under my tree at the top of my brow.  He is watching the fields down below.  He watches the swamp with a very keen eye, he’s watching and waiting for the sun to soon rise.  Brisk winds blow across the field and slap him in the face.  Yet, he sits motionless scanning around.  The light of day soon breaks over the eastern maple woods, giving shape to the trees and bushes around.  Though the skies are gray light still comes, and the man can now watch from pines to his left and see around to the swamp to his left.  He watches and waits hoping to bring home food for the family to enjoy.

Then through the clearing brush movement begins.  A large buck slowly moves out from hiding and into the open field down below.  Maybe this year, I think to myself, he will bring home some venison to enjoy for the winter.  Perhaps this year they will have more to eat and enjoy for the long cold winter than they thought they’d enjoy.


Alone I stand covered again, with a new white blanket of snow. Bristles of grass try to poke through the new fallen cover, and my maple tree cap is bare to the bone.  I’m cold, I’m frozen, I feel so alone.

Yet, even in the cold of the winter I see my people their coming out to see me.  Down near the gate, where the old barn once stood, they come trudging along.  Their pulling sleds and bundled quite tight, but they push forward in the gray winter’s light.

Soon they are climbing again up my face.  They are pushing and plodding toward my precipice.  The work is quite hard for them in the drifting snow, but they press on to the top.  Then onto their sleds they sit and they lie, racing down my face toward the pond down below.  They stop before hitting the ice of the pond.  A second trip up for another ride.  I wonder how many times they will go, but with each time down more energy seems to flow.  The joy in their smiles and the on their frozen faces delights me every time.

Though the sun is now setting upon my great back.  I think of the generations that I’ve seen from my face, from animals to people who have walked before my sight.  I think of the joy and the life I have seen.  The seasons turn before my face, and I know soon again it will all be renewed.  Don’t ever forget me, for I’m still watching on.  I look forward to seeing the future before me.  The joy and the blessings and that shall come.






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