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Four Years at the Mount

Freshman year

A mountain of gold

Sarah Muir
MSM Class of 2018

(3/2015) There once was a man who lived on a mountain. His modest house sat at the end of a narrow lane that wound its way through the surrounding woods. The man had lived there, with his wife, for such a long time that they had become a constant presence to the few neighbors that knew of their existence. The man adored his wife and loved the home and life they had built together in their little pocket of the world.

They moved into their modest home after they were married forty-nine years ago. They experienced lifeís hardships and pleasures; the peaks of their marriage helped them through the valleys.

Life on their mountain was a simple one. They had a small garden and whatever else they needed could be retrieved from the town that lay a few miles away. By then, they knew most of the trees and the flowers that grew on their mountain by both sight and name; the man knew that the Silver Maple and Aspen were the first to announce the autumn and that the crocuses would proclaim the coming of spring.

It seemed that this mountain was made especially for them. They had become a part of the life that surrounded them, and year by year, they learned how to survive the elements. Together they had been there through the bitterest winters and the most scorching summers, and they loved every moment.

Years passed and the man and his wife watched as the verdurous summers were set alight with the colors of fall, how the silent winters melted into the familiar sounds of spring. The man loved how the trees turned scarlet in the fall and how the pines and spruces added their fragrance to the cold winter air. He loved how the trees cooled down even the hottest of summers. But while he loved each season in its turn, he treasured spring the most.

During these months, he would wander through the surrounding woods and watch how the sunlight found its way through the lush canopies just to spatter the ground with its golden light; sometimes he would fall asleep against a rock, warmed by the sun, as the birds sang and chattered around him like a symphony. It was during one of these outings the man had an idea.

His wife noticed a change. In the late summer, he would come home late in the evening, his face sun-kissed, smiling like a fool, and hands smelling of freshly turned earth. She would ask him what he was doing and he would just smile as if he had some private joke and say, "Not much at all."

It came to be their new routine until the trees caught fire with the coming autumn and the manís excursions dwindled until they stopped altogether. The winter was harsh and bitterly long, and the manís wife started to notice an unusual air of impatience that hung around her husband. Every so often, she would catch him looking out the window, as if the seemingly endless snow would vanish if he just stared at it long enough. Alas, the winter lasted, and it was not until late March that the weather finally changed. It was not until then that God flipped a switch and turned on spring.

With the warm weather, Mother Nature realized it was time to decorate the world with new blooms and fill the air with their fragrant perfumes. Almost immediately, crocuses could be seen pushing through the frozen ground and buds started to appear on every tree and bush. As the snow melted, so too did the manís impatience, and his wife soon realized why.

She finally saw what it was he was doing those late summer evenings. In almost every place touched by the sunlight lay clusters of daffodils. Watching their lofty green stems proudly bearing up their golden heads, the wife looked in awe as they danced in the wind. Watching as they rippled in the warm breeze, she imagined music rising out of the aureate trumpets and joining with the melodious symphony of the birds. She smiled and looked to her husband, who held in his hand a bundle of the flowers that seemed to be made out of sunlight. She took them in her hands and inhaled their sweet, delicate, perfume, and together they stood grinning proudly out on the veins of gold that dotted their land.

Every year, as summer reaches its end, the man will come back to his house and his wife, face sun-kissed, smiling like a fool, and hands smelling of freshly turned earth. Together they will wait as the flaming trees of autumn are cooled by the winter wind and as the melting snow awakens the sleeping buds of spring. They will watch as little by little, and year by year, the number of gilded trumpets grows, and one day they will look out and see their mountain has turned to gold.

Read other articles by Sarah Muir