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*****
The Cranky Yankee - reprinted from the South Shore Puzzle Journal, Issue No. 37 - April, 2009
By Stephen Martin

This is the end. -- Jim Morrison
Only the beginning. -- Chicago

      In the forest, winter stops and lifts its great white snout to sniff the air. It slowly turns and turns again, then haltingly begins its frozen journey northward.
      "Can't say I'll miss it," says the Cranky Yankee, watching it lumbering slowly up the 40-acre cart road like a giant geriatric polar bear. "This one was a real beah."
      Tender red shoots tremble in their liberation. They know without knowing that their dormancy is ended, that it's time for a new beginning.
      Because every ending is a new beginning, isn't it? Winter ends, spring begins. Days of clear glass turn to velvet nights. Breathing in becomes breathing out.
      "What's that?" inquires the aging woodsman's grandson, pointing to a gray bird with a light orange breast.
      "Why that's a robin, boy," the Cranky one replies. "And she's a girl. The boys have darker, redder breasts."
      The robin is, of course, a symbol of new beginnings. But for little Cranky III, there's nothing symbolic about it. This is the first robin he's ever seen. This is a new beginning. Shining eyes wide with wonder, he tries to approach the bird, causing it to dart away. He watches as the songbird flies, flashing gold in morning light.
      At first, Cranky sees just another robin, just another turning of the seasons. But something in the young boy's eyes catches his breath. The universe, he thinks, is what it is. It's all in how you look at it. To the boy it's all new. To me it's the same old story. But which is the correct way of looking at things? Who's to say? Why can't every robin, every spring, every step, every breath be new for me?
      Why not indeed?
*****
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