The van rumbled up, the gravel hit the side. She took a deep breath. Her lips parted into a smile. Home, finally she was home. The van’s door was thrown open and everyone ran out onto the bridge. Their hollowed footsteps took her back to the snow, falling, losing her boot, getting back up with a wild smile and going down to eat spaghetti. The sweet smell of clover brought her back as they turned. On her left  flags waved brilliantly, next a garden of rocks, out behind they called this small valley the friendship bowl and to it’s right was a disappearing circle of pine. She had been there when most of the trees still stood tall and proud surrounding the fire. Moccasins danced around the flame, family, friendship, freedom.  That was gone like the trees, but some of it is clung to this place. She cried when her eyes fell on the stump. She remembered the tree that once stood there. The worn trunk that had shaped to the foot, the smooth branch that she had hung on like a sloth, until finally swinging her leg over the top and traveling to her spot. No one else sat there-claimed it was too uncomfortable, but for her it was just right. She could sit, two loops and weave through. Sometimes she would look up and watch first base, the totem pole. Sometimes she would join the game. A hundred years changes a place. She saw the change in ten. But it was still there, the magic. Not having enemies or worrying about what people think of you. This place was special. Untainted by age. Everyone was part of it, the magic.  Somehow no one in this place had left their childhood behind. They were still young, there was good there was bad, no shade of grey. They didn’t care if an eighteen year old liked pokemon, they encouraged it. They didn’t care that you knew every line of “Strangers like me,” they did too and sang along. This place was happiness, hope, forgiveness, and love.


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