July 2012

A Setting Description: Creating a Sense of Place


Lawrence's Hill

by Denise Reashore

I hike past the tall maple tree, notice the broken branch hanging at an odd angle, and continue down the slope. Across the untouched, crusty snow of my backyard is Lawrence’s Hill. With my pink, circular sled thrown over my shoulder, I keep moving. Little puffs like smoke form in the air. The snow crunches and crumbles with each step.

I circle around the swampy part of the field and pass two spruce trees growing as one. Off to the left, alders sag under the weight of the shimmering ice. Turning to look back, I notice thick, long icicles hanging from the gutter of our one storey brown home. The dog runs from the house to the red barn and back again, and the whirl of the line breaks the silence. He pauses to watch me and barks eagerly. He wants to come, but I turn away.

A lump in the snow marks the rock where the blueberries grow, and up ahead I see the prickly blackberry bushes on the granite rock wall someone built years ago. On the other side, a fence is used to hold in cattle. The crumbling rock wall looks lonely, partly covered in snow and ice. I climb the slippery rocks and slip down low to crawl under the bottom pole of the fence. Pieces of broken, rusty barbwire reach out like long, bony fingers, trying to snag my jacket.

I make my way to the hilltop, passing bumps and mounds of buried rocks and shrubs. This early in the morning nothing is disturbed. A black crow calls from the top of a crab apple tree. The dog barks. A door slams, and I hear the hum of a car in the distance.

At the top of Lawrence’s Hill, I race to the large rock pointing to the sky. I scramble to the top. The slick, icy snow spreads out across the hill before me. Fir and spruce trees covered in ice border the cow pasture. The white and red lighthouse towers above the trees. I turn towards our house to see Dad pat the dog, watch the neighbour climb into his new van, hear a car drive by followed by a loud, blue truck, and I smile as Dad unhooks the dog. King charges for the hill.

I jump down from the rock. The cold air tickles my cheeks and stings the back of my throat like Listerine. I grip my sled and run, then hop on it and tuck my feet in. The sled whips down the slick, crusty snow. The rock wall with its sharp barbwire and wooden fence come up too fast. I ditch the sled and tumble through the snow laughing. Cold snow under my jacket sends shivers up my spine. The dog puffs and pants his greeting just before rushing me and licking my face.

I hop up, fix my jacket, and make one long whistle for the dog. Then I turn and start the climb again. The untouched snow is no more. Instead, my feet become my paintbrush and I paint the hillside - one path for walking up the hill and one path for sliding down.


Original © 2006

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