We now walked through air thick with snow, like walking through a sea of downy feathers. Each flake caught the moonlight and made it shine in midair. So mystical looked the scene that we forgot to keep watch for the return of the breathing shadows.
It was where the abandoned logging road crossed our path that the snowfall carousel appeared. Blowing down from the mountain, down that old logger's road, came a gently swirling wind. It caught hold of those drifting snow-white ashes of heaven's clouds and turned them into dancers at play on a snowfall carousel. Round and round and round, never-ending round and round.
I could not help myself. Into the carousel I stepped. Round and round, round and round, the dancers went round and round. And then ... at some unnoticed moment, my eyes could realized that it was no longer the snow that spun around me, but the maple trees and the poplar trees and now and then an Old Man's face lit by lantern's glow, smiling and smiling and smiling once more.
Soon the light-headed dizziness came upon me, a dreaminess set in. I could hear the laughter of a thousand tiny angels as they tiptoed past my ears. I could feel my lantern's golden light wrap itself around me then warping upward, lifting me to a skyward, above the trees.
Such joy -- we all had such joy in that found moment of forever, those dancers on that snowfall carousel and me.
Eventually, some lost eventually, my grandfather's face began to reappear, at first vaguely and occasionally in the distance, but then ever so more clearly and repeatedly as the carousel slowed to its stop, the mountain wind deciding to travel on.
"How was it, boy?"
"That was amazing, Grandfather. What was that?"
"Unspeakable grace. It takes place every now and then, when we dare step into forever and leave the worries of time behind.
Then the road stretched on. Past the Stand of Burnt Oaks, an acre of old growth that had been scorched black by a fire that took place before anyone could remember. Past the old Algonquin village, once over a thousand strong, five hundred years old, now gone, now empty. Past the Missionary School run by the Claires for the backwoods poor and the half-breeds who lived in the shacks, the children of trappers and drunks. There were no Sisters of Poor Claire anymore, they left after the Greyfriars disappeared, but the school remains with no windows and holes in the shingles and the front door gone. I don't know whatever became of the children. I guess they're gone too.
The road stretched on and the lanterns kept burning. Then the peddler approached, rolling toward us from far down the road. He was whistling a song that I think my Grandfather knew.