Snow Day

My very own piece of creek after snow last December.

I don’t know about where you are, but it’s been HOT lately. Oh, I know, breaking 90 degrees is nothing for many of you. And we DO cool down at night. Morning’s are still fresh and lovely. So I’m not expecting too much sympathy. Still when I’m out for a hike and sweat is trickling down my spine and damping the backs of my knees . . . winter suddenly seems ever so much more appealing!

And since Until the Harvest opens in January, it offers a taste of wintry weather. So, because the weather is HOT in so many places right now, I thought I’d offer you a frosty excerpt to hopefully lend a little West Virginia winter chill to your day. This section comes after the hero–Henry Phillips–has been up to no good and is regretting it . . .

“A creek ran alongside the road. He pulled over and Charlie cracked one eye, then grunted and settled back to sleep. Henry got out and crouched beside the stream to splash icy water on his face. It hurt, but the aftershock made him feel a little clearer. He scooped up a handful of water and slurped it. Now that felt good.

“Slinging droplets from his numbed fingers, Henry considered the crystal water. It was beautiful. He bet there would be moss and ferns come summer. Mayfair would appreciate how pretty this was. A smooth, white stone gleamed in the shallows. He reached for it, gritting his teeth against the cold sinking into his bones. The force of the water tumbled it once, twice before he snatched it into the frigid air. He held it up and saw how it sparkled in the sun—pure and clean.

“A memory of trout fishing with Dad when he was eight or nine flickered in his tired brain. They’d hiked to a remote stream, carrying their poles and other gear. Dad trusted him with the wicker creel—he remembered how it bounced against his leg as he walked. He hadn’t much known what he was doing, but Dad had been patient and eventually he hooked a rainbow trout. It broke the surface splashing water like a spray of diamonds in the sunshine. He’d nestled the trout along with two Dad caught into moss lining the bottom of the creel. That night Mom rolled the fish in cornmeal and fried it for supper. He remembered the look Dad gave him—like they were two men who had, together, conquered the wilderness.

“Henry hung his head letting misery wash over him. He listened to the music of the stream wishing he could go back in time to that other stream and the sunshine and his father. He tucked the stone in his pocket. For once, he wouldn’t blame Margaret for judging him harshly. ‘Good thing she can’t see me,’ he said as he got back in the car.

“Charlie grunted and then snored. Henry had an urge to shove him out and leave him on the side of the road, but that probably wouldn’t help his case. He started the car and realized it had begun to snow. There really hadn’t been any snow since before Christmas. Now the huge, fluffy flakes drifted down, skimmed across the windshield and whirled away. It should have been beautiful, but at the moment Henry didn’t feel like he deserved any kind of beauty.”