December 24, 2013

A Christmas Story: Christmas Pudding

The snow stopped falling soon after dawn.

From somewhere along the frozen river came the harsh scraping of a shovel; otherwise, all was still.

The yard behind the dingy white house was somewhat improved by the snow — it had buried some of the junk and had given a jaunty white cap to a rusted old pickup truck.

One mound of snow shifted suddenly, and a shaggy black head rose from it. The big dog lurched up, snow sliding from her furry back then spraying everywhere as she gave a vigorous shake.

Pudding plunged through the deep snow along the chain-link fence.

“Awrraw,” she said questioningly, studying the corner where the snow drifted high.

With a happy bound, she plunged up the ramp that nature had made for her, and though she sank into the drift, her momentum carried her up and over.

With a small yip of joy, she bounded toward the river.

The bank was high on this side; Pudding sat at the top and just watched. A woman skated around a newly cleared rectangular space, then suddenly pirouetted, her graceful, spinning body a blur, long hair whipping from under a yellow knitted hat.

The ice dancer stopped with a scrape of a skate blade, then, as if performing for thousands, gave a low bow.


The woman glanced up, and Pudding grinned down at her, pink tongue lolling. The skater laughed and waved.


But the chickens were waiting.

Pudding loved poultry — yes, in her kibble, but she didn’t connect the fascinating, feathery fowl in the coop at the Richard Farm with food.

She’d crouch with her nose against the chicken-wire door and watch them pecking at the corn on the ground the way a human watches a favorite movie that never gets old.

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