A woman and her son walk towards me. The mother comes first, stooped, watching her step on the slippery path. She places each foot on the icy snow, one after the other, steady, careful.
As I get closer I hear the son chattering away. Around eight years old, a constant stream of exclamations and observations. The mother is tired and answers with short, monotonous sounds. She is neither excited nor interested. She looks up briefly, at the path ahead, and I catch her sad gaze for a short moment. She lowers her head again and I pass, noticing her young face, despite its lines and her hunched shoulders.
The son is behind and as I approach, is patting something in his hand, speaking all the while, telling his mother about his day. His arm lifts just as I pass, and propels the snowball in its arc through the air.
I don't turn to see but hear the snowball thwack into the mother's coat.
She doesn't say a word.