CHAPTER XIII
Boy Life on the Prairie

THE snows fell deep in February and when at last the warm March winds began to blow, lakes developed with magical swiftness in the fields, and streams filled every swale, transforming the landscape into something unexpected and enchanting. At night these waters froze, bringing fields of ice almost to our door. We forgot all our other interests in the joy of the games which we played thereon at every respite from school, or from the wood-pile, for splitting fire-wood was our first spring task.

From time to time as the weather permitted, father had been cutting and hauling maple and hickory logs from the forests of the Cedar River, and these logs must now be made into stove-wood and piled for summer use. Even before the school term ended we began to take a hand at this work, after four o'clock and on Saturdays. While the hired man and father ran the cross-cut saw, whose pleasant song had much of the seed-time suggestion which vibrated in the caw-caw of the hens as they burrowed in the dust of the chip-yard, I split the easy blocks and my brother helped to pile the finished product.

The place where the wood-pile lay was slightly higher than the barnyard and was the first dry ground to appear in the almost universal slush and mud. Delightful memories are associated with this sunny spot and with a pond which appeared as if by some conjury, on the very field where I had husked the down-row so painfully

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