Route 7 Review - Page 170

Days Gone By Alaina Mae Hammond I wish I had known what was coming. But I was far too young and innocent—oblivious to the tension that had been building for years. ********** Tangible excitement and anticipation erupted from every child on the long, yellow school bus as it made its way deep into the hills of Southern New Hampshire. Bodies couldn’t sit still or contain their wild energy. The bus rounded one last corner before coming to my stop at the end of Deer Lane. I scooped up my backpack, slung it over my shoulder, and bolted for the exit. “Merry Christmas!” My older sister Megan and I sang in unison as we ran down the steps and off the bus. At age nine, Megan was two years older than me. But I was tall for my age, so most people assumed we were twins. We may as well have been; we were inseparable. “Three more days, Megan! Three more days!” I inhaled deeply, relishing the scent of earthy smoke coming from a nearby wood-burning stove. “I know, I can’t wait!” Megan’s cheeks were already pink from the bitter cold. We hiked up our street shoulder-to-shoulder, bouncing a little with each step, our nearly empty knapsacks jostling on our backs. “Do you think Mom and Dad got me a Tropical Barbie Doll?” With every exhalation my hot breath drifted visibly out of my lips into the frigid air. Megan shrugged. “I’m not telling! I guess you’re just going to have to wait and see!” Our snow boots crunched on the layers of greyish-white, icy sludge beneath our feet. The view looked quite different now that winter had settled in on our quaint, little town. Even though it was barely four o’clock, the sun was already beginning to set for the night. Megan cocked her head to the side as she asked, “Didn’t Dad say he was leaving Boston early today?” “Yeah. I think so,” I answered, then turned my head just in time to catch a glimpse of a chipmunk scurrying up the branches of a massive oak. I grinned as my thoughts immediately turned to my favorite Christmas cartoon with Chip and Dale. The thick, lush deciduous trees that had once filled out the gaps between each house now stood bare, their leaves buried under a heavy blanket of snow. An occasional icicle dripped and dangled from the branches. Great pines were now the only source of green, and even they shimmered with a light layer of white frost. Nothing was immune to the winter. Our two-story, brown and white colonial home waited for us at the end of the cul-de-sac. It couldn’t have been more different from the home our family had shared on Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii for the previous three years. When Dad had announced to the family that he had received new orders—that we were being transferred from Hawaii to New Hampshire—I was crushed. It had been incredibly difficult to let go of the laid-back, island lifestyle, but over time I adapted. Although I missed the sandy beaches and tropical weather, New Hampshire had much to offer. It was incredibly lush and beautiful and had four good seasons with endless outdoor activities in each. I surveyed the massive snow fort my family and I had built in our front yard just after the last Nor’easter. The fort was impressive. In addition to it, my dad had also worked for hours packing the heavy, wet snow into a long sled run that wound through the woods behind our house. Kids from all over the neighborhood would come to slide down the legendary slope. Megan pulled the house key from deep within her backpack; we always let ourselves in. She swung the door open, and a comforting, warm interior beckoned to us. I smelled the clean, piney