As the creeping fingers of dawn reached up through the morning mist to stroke the tops of the pines, a solitary figure made its way with stoic determination toward s the highest point. Swaddled in layer upon layer of thick woollen clothing to keep the biting cold at bay, it would not have been immediately obvious to a bystander whether the form was male or female, though it was evidently human. On its feet were green wellington boots, in its arms a large earthenware pot. As it walked the ground crackled beneath its feet. The sound of twigs snapping echoed around the forest, sending the animals who resided there – unused as they were to human presence – scurrying for cover. From all around the sound of birdsong rang out as if heralding the new arrival.
At length the figure reached the brow of the hill and stopped. It pulled down the hood of its coat to reveal the face of an elderly woman, deep lines carved like tributaries through her pale, leathery skin. Her blue eyes, though sunken now, were nonetheless still bright with the memory of a bygone youth. And now they blazed with memories of another.
The woman removed the lid of the urn with the greatest of care and, turning away from the wind, emptied its contents into the air. The ashes danced in the breeze as they floated away, over the tops of the pines and out of sight. In life her husband had loved this forest, it seemed only fitting that in death he should become a part of it.
“Good bye, my darling.” The woman exhaled, allowing herself the smallest of smiles as she wiped away a solitary tear.
Then, her work done, she began her slow descent to journey home.