June 2, 1849.
Abitha watches Barnabas planting corn with Samuel. She rocks and knits on the porch whilst they move from east to west and back across the freshly harrowed field. Samuel pokes holes in the ground with his wood auger and Barnabas drops kernels of corn, a few beans and a minnow in each hole.
She works on a sweater for Barnabas knowing he will grow out of it by next spring. She wishes he could pass it down to the younger brother and sister that lie still in the family cemetery on the ridge behind the house. The fevers came in March. They left have holes in her life that cannot be filled, but she knows another will come this winter.
As she watches the planting, Samuel’s playfulness is evident. He will not be a farmer. Before long she knows, he will be in school. The academy in Gorham will teach him math, Latin and history. She hopes it will build in him a sense of compassion and fairness.
After a day of cooking, sweeping, scrubbing, and washing, she enjoys the soft fall of late spring’s light. Her mind drifts across the possibilities when she realizes the hearth may need stoking to keep the stew alive. While she rocks, the quiet dread of Samuel’s leaving creeps over her. Will the children to come fill his place? Unlikely. There is only one first born and underneath his cheer and playfulness, she believes he will fill with an urge to move south and find himself. The loneliness engulfs her like a late night snowfall.