In Florida, a man of 76 allows his thoughts to drift where they may.  
With no conscious intention, a long-treasured vivid illlusion appears.

Wellesley in Winter, 1950

On a bitterly cold night In late December at 107 Benvenue Street, a very deep snow had fallen. Past midnight, little Billy’s bedroom was warmed by glowing embers banked in the fireplace. He sensed there would be no school tomorrow. Sleigh bells might awaken him – this would be the bundled-up Alden family careening along Cartwright Road in their lightweight open one-horse rig. They would hoot greetings at a few Dana Hall girls out ski-joring behind masked and blanketed high-stepping horses.

Billy arose in the darkness, padded to his window, and took in a fascinating winter scene of perfect calm. His breath clouded the icy glass as he gazed out at a spectacle of peaceful wonder. Wanting to more directly experience this hypnotic world, he slowly raised his heavy bedroom window sash. He breathed in fresh arctic air, then exhaled a long, dense cloud of steam. He listened intently but heard nothing – all was muffled in silence. An occasional snowflake melted on his freckled cheek, then his pink nose. Over at the corner of Benvenue and Cartwright, the hooded streetlamp twinkled through bare maple branches. Its downward-directed light illuminated each solitary flake descending ever-so-slowly and silently from heaven to street.

His gaze returned to the hypnotic beauty evolving on the grounds near the house. Each unique snowflake meandered down gently, to alight on a soft, deep blanket of pure, new-fallen snow. His fascination was interrupted by a soft knock on his bedroom door. He turned to see his grandmother Adams, silhouetted by the front hall light. She called softly to him. “Can’t sleep?” When Billy reached to close the window, she said, “Wait,” and came to his side. After pausing for a moment, she understood his fascination with the perfection of this night. She turned to him, and gently wiped a few melted snowflakes from his cheek. She smiled, ruffled his hair, then went to another window. She reached toward a thick extension cord, and plugged it in.

Billy was startled by the immediate transformation outside. The lone blue spruce was now radiating a mystical cobalt glow from within. Its former blanket of white had become a mantle of infinite shades and hues of luminous blue wonder. Glittering sapphire crystals bathed the surrounding snow. Adorned with sparkling blue sea ice, aqua crystals, cerulean gems, and glittering azure facets, the magnificent blue spruce was now a beacon of beauty, warmth and grace.

After imprinting this vision for their lifetimes, they closed the window. Grandmother Adams tucked him in, and they quietly said their goodnights. Billy slept well, and awakened to the sound of sleigh bells.

Each winter, pure, soft New England snows wrap our world in exquisite beauty. The house has become two houses that still live and breathe there.  The casement window is still there. The ageless blue spruce still thrives there.

In Florida, a man of 76 clasps warm memories to his heart. . .

--Will Walsh