I traveled through the woods on a Fall morning. The trees rose tall on the sides of the road and a fog lay still between them. They were birch and oak and pine, colored orange and yellow while some remained green.
The entire wood stood silent and there was no sound I could hear. I could barely see the sun that had just risen over the horizon, providing little light through the trees.
I pulled my coat tighter around me and breathed into my hands to warm them. The morning was terribly cold. My mare seemed to care little though, as she pressed on unencumbered and made small clouds of hot vapor with each breath.
I moved my toes to warm them in my boots as we continued over the road covered with fallen leaves. The horse’s hooves made methodical thunks on the moist dirt.
We rode this way until we came to the wood’s end and looked upon the familiar sight of a small village. Rich smoke poured for chimneys where fires had been freshly fed. Gentle, yellow glows from a few of the houses indicated risen inhabitants.
We followed the road into the village and went through the quiet streets. We turned right and rode down until we reached the last home. It was a simple house made of wood, and had two rooms and a brick chimney. It was my home and a welcomed sight.
My mare knew her way and took us towards the stable that sat joined to the western wall of the house. I slowly slid off, and removed the worn saddle from her back and the harness from her head. She walked into the stable on her own, and went for the wooden rack on the wall filled with hay.
I sat the saddle and harness on a bench near her, gave her a pat, and closed the stable door and latched it from the outside. I walked around the corner towards the door of the house. I took a brass key from my coat pocket, placed and turned it in the cold lock and opened the door.
In the house there was no candle or lantern lit, but rays of morning sun were coming through the eastern windows. I lit a candle that sat upon a desk, and took it and set it on the mantle above the fire place. I grabbed a few pieces of firewood stacked on an iron rack to my left and placed them in the fireplace. I also took some kindling and laid it on the wood.
I grabbed the candle from the mantle and with it, lit a single piece of kindling. Once lit, I tossed it onto the rest of the kindling atop the wood. The flame grew as it consumed the dry kindling, and started to burn hotter as the fire made its way across the larger pieces.
As the fire started, I shed my coat and boots, wet and stiff from the morning cold. Before the fire sat a rocking chair with a thick blanket. The blanket was made of wool and colored gray. I took the blanket and wrapped it around me. I pulled the chair closer to the fire and sat in it.
The small flame had turned into a good fire and I could feel its heat from where I sat. I sat still and watched the flames dancing and crackling and popping, filling my home with a warm, sporadic glow. I let the fire warm me and thaw my bones as I thought of the night before and the day to come.
But those thoughts would wait. I was home.