The snow fell lightly on the lake. A small breeze whipped through the trees, sending streams of white into the air. The lake was frozen, or perhaps it had never thawed before. A low fog stretched out across it into the horizon. Where the ground ended and the gray sky began was a mystery, it was simply an endless gloom. Winter had not only come, it perhaps always had been there.
The man moved slowly across the snow. He wasn’t an old man, nor was he a child eager to run and play. His shoulders were white from the snowfall, and his red hat drooped over his face. He was tired, he was weak. The man had worked, worried, and wondered when it would end. And it showed. His eyes downcast, his long red coat worn and frayed, he walked.
The cabin was hard to see. It wasn’t a large house, and the snow kept it well covered. The windows were frosted over and the door was met with a wall of white. The man kicked away, clearing a path and opening the door. He slipped into the cabin and close it behind him.
It was a simple place, and in almost total darkness. A small cluttered kitchen sat in the back, while a fireplace stood in the front, accompanied by a worn and overstuffed chair. A blanket-covered bed was on the far side, covered too deep in the shadows to see in detail.
The man pulled off his hat and removed his long coat, hanging the damp red items on the back of the door. The man knelt before the fireplace, grabbing the poker to jab at some logs. From his dark vest he pulled some matches, igniting one and setting it into the grate. After a moment the logs caught, and a warm glow filled the cabin. He rubbed his hands together and went to the kitchen and lighting a small stove. He filled his kettle and put it on the fire.
He pulled out a small bottle of cream and a shallow bowl. He set down the bowl in front of the fire, filling it up. As he capped the bottle two furry shapes woke up on the bed and hurried over to the hearth. The man pet both cats and watched as they lapped up the cream. Sighing deeply, he set the bottle down and sat in the chair. He leaned back, at ease for the first time he could remember. It had been a long Christmas, and one without much cheer. But now it was different. The man smiled.
He was home.