Grandmother lived on the edge of the Wolf Forest

The forecasters were predicting the forest would move, and so we went to check in on her.

Published . 604 words.

In the background, wolves the size of redwoods cluster in a pack; their bodies as the crowns of the forest formed by their legs. A small, dark house stands before the Wolf Forest, and a white bird flies towards the house. In the foreground, two bundled travelers make their way through deep snow towards the house.

Original artwork by, whose blog has ceased to be.

Grandmother lived on the edge of the Wolf Forest, and the forecasters were predicting a surge. A southerly loop of the jet stream was pushing the Elk Forest north, into smelling distance of the Wolf Forest. And if the GFS model agreed with the Euro models, then there was a good chance that the more-mobile Elk Forest would be within sighting distance of the canine verge.

Grandmother lived on the edge of the Wolf Forest, where a southerly spur sheltered her cabin from the prevailing winds. The Wolf Forest’s nocturnal howls bothered her little; she was deaf. The Wolf Forest moved rarely, so Grandfather had built the house against the paws of the Wolf Forest, where the fur fell in the spring and could be gathered to be sold in town.

Grandfather was buried in the Wolf Forest, where a she-wolf dropped her pup in the spring and the pup saw food, and ate. His axe remains embedded in a paw nearby. The pup, now grown, does not let anyone draw near. But we have seen his axe, from beneath the she-wolf, and tell his story.

Grandmother lived on the edge of the Wolf Forest, where the postmaster’s daughter came by on weekdays to help around the house. The parson would drive by on Sundays and give her a ride to Mass, and the parson’s wife would bring her home. And at night, Grandmother was visited by an owl.

Grandmother’s owl lived in the Wolf Forest, and never left sight of it. But my brother lived in New York, and one morning Grandmother’s owl stood on my brother’s fire escape railing and screamed until the neighbors woke up my brother’s wife, who called my brother at his hospital shift. The owl flew to the hospital, following his voice, and surprised the desk nurse by signing in. The doctor was not pleased.

Grandmother’s grandsons lived away from the Wolf Forest, but we drove to the town as fast as we could. Our partners spelled us driving, and after eighteen hours of worsening weather, the parson told us that we would not be able to drive to Grandmother’s house. There were snowshoes.

Grandmother’s house was placed against the Wolf Forest, where the warmth of the pack kept off the snow. But years before, Mother would go sledding, and so we had a plan to take her to the Parson’s, out of the direct path between the Wolf Forest and the Elk. The owl preceded us.

Grandmother lived on the edge of the Wolf Forest, and the past tense surprised us when we arrived. Grandmother’s body lay on Mother’s sled, with a note pinned to her shawl.

And so we left Grandmother’s house, and we left Grandmother there. Grandmother’s owl is now my owl, for it sat on my hood when we left Grandmother’s house, and never got off until we were inside the parson’s mudroom, stomping ice off our boots.

Grandmother’s house is in the Wolf Forest now, and the pup stands guard over it. We have seen this, from beneath the she-wolf, and tell the story.