Busted Axle Road
Chapter 93: November, 1987

Copyright© 1993, 2001, 2010

A couple of weeks after the Halloween Party the annual miracle occurred, creeping in silently in the early hours of a Saturday morning, transforming the barren ugliness of the late fall litter, the dead weeds and barren trees, into a sparkling wonderland of white, pristine and clean even in the gray light of a November sky.

The miracle couldn't last; early November snow rarely does, even in the northwoods country of Spearfish Lake. There would be snow enough in the next few months that even the most joyous lover of winter would be thoroughly sick of it before the landscape turned to green, but the first blanket of white covering the fields and forest floors was a thing of beauty, a special wonder to behold.

Mike McMahon hadn't been expecting snow; the weatherman on the TV station in Camden had said something about "possible scattered flurries", so when he stumbled to the bathroom in the early morning light, with the full intention of returning to bed for another couple of hours, the sight of the blanket of white in the early morning light brought him instantly awake. He looked once, briefly, then looked again at the white fields and the couple of inches of heavy wet, snow piled on the windowsill, and knew instantly what to do: he half walked, half ran to the phone, and dialed it frantically.

"What's out?" a half-awake Mark replied. The only reason he ever got a call at that hour of the morning was a major malfunction of the phone system.

The response was the last thing he expected: "Come on, sack rat, let's go! We've got snow!"

"It's not supposed to snow," Mark protested.

"Look out the window, then get dressed," an excited Mike said. "I'll get some coffee making while I'm harnessing up the dogs, and bring us a couple of thermoses. This could be gone in a few hours!" There was an abrupt click on the phone, signifying that Mike didn't intend to waste time talking.

Not quite believing the phone call, Mark swung out of bed, went to the window, and pulled back the drape a little. Even without his glasses, the brightness of the landscape told him everything he needed to know. His activity was only a little less frantic than Mike's, if only because he tended to be, in automotive terms, a hard starter and slow to warm up, but the excitement got to him quickly. Like Mike, he'd looked forward to this day for a long time.

A quarter of a mile down Busted Axle Road, Mike was moving hard. He put on regular underwear and long underwear, heavy socks, woolen pants and shirt, and shoepac boots, all at a record pace, and all without waking Kirsten, more was the wonder. He stopped by Tiffany's room, and shook the gray lump sleeping at the foot of her bed until he wagged his tail and lifted his head. "Come on, George," he whispered in a low voice so as to not wake his daughter. "We've got things to do."

Downstairs, he set the coffeepot to making, and opened a can of dog foot for George, and four more for the rest of the Beatle Hounds while he let the tap run to get a bucket of warm water. While George inhaled his dog food, Mike took a bucket, some dog dishes and the open cans of food, and without bothering with a coat, went outside to give the rest of his dogs an unexpected early morning breakfast.

Even the dogs were still asleep, but a thump on the top of the first doghouse brought Ringo out into the open air. Ringo sniffed at the strange whitness of the countryside, and wagged his tail with excitement; somehow, he knew in his very bones what this white stuff meant.

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