Friday Fiction "Winter"

Today's Friday Fiction is being hosted at Dorinda's Finding Treasure in Jars of Clay . Feel free to add your fictional story and add your name to Mr. Linky...and don't forget to leave those comments!



(This is an exerpt from a novel I've written. Maseppa, a half breed Indian woman, and little Phoebe are living with Granny Mackmin who is blind. I chose this part today, to remind us of how well we have it now.Life was hard in the 1800's. We really shouldn't complain!)

News flies through a rural community as swiftly as snowflakes before a gustery wind. After Granny’s guests had been seen at the wood party and at church meeting, housewives tried to think of excuses to visit those who might not know the latest gossip. They may have pretended to need a pastry receipt or quilting pattern, but spent an hour or two talking of the strangers at Granny’s house.

“Poor Old Widow Mackmin” had more well-wishers than she had seen in years. As much as Granny liked company, it wore on a body to be polite to those who sweet talked just to satisfy their curiosity. Granny didn’t blame Maseppa for conveniently staying in the barn or taking a walk. At least the cupboards and the cellar shelves were being stocked with plenty of food to last the winter.

Chores grew harder in the impassionate chill of winter. When the well froze, Phoebe gathered snow to melt near the fire for their water. It took hours, and they were careful not to waste a drop. The same water was used to wash themselves, then the dishes, then necessary laundry, and finally thrown out the back door when it was stagnant and almost looked like soup.

The towels and bloomers stiffened on the clothesline in the icy wind. When the snow got too deep, they draped their garments on a rack before the fireplace. The bedding would have to wait for warmer weather.

The doors to the front room and the upstairs were tightly shut, and they spent all their time in the kitchen. A blanket was even hung over the outer doors and windows when the howling wind blew through the cracks.

Bed sheets were thawed each night by a glowing warming pan, and toes reached down to feel the toasty soapstone at the foot of the bed. The air vent between the kitchen ceiling and bedchamber floor didn’t help much. Sometimes all three of them slept in Granny’s bed, just to keep warm.

When the icy wind blasted from the north, woolen petticoats and stockings and shawls and bonnets still weren’t enough to keep them warm, even in the house. The animals stayed in the barn now and didn’t produce as before. All daily activities were done huddled close to the kitchen fire.

“I hate winter!” Phoebe slammed the shed door as she returned from feeding the chickens. She placed only one egg in the basket.

“Phoebe!” exclaimed Granny “Don’t ever say you hate things. ‘Tis true that life is harder in the winter, but it is still from the Lord. He gives us difficulties to teach us patience and make us strong.”

“I’m just tired of going to a cold outhouse and thawing snow for water and eating soup everyday.”

“Shame on you, child! Instead of murmuring, like the children of Israel in the wilderness, look for things to be thankful for. You can be thankful for strong arms and legs to fetch the snow and for a warm fire to melt it.”

Phoebe took a deep breath. “I reckon I could be thankful for the soup, even if it does have cabbage in it. It’s better than eating hay like a cow!”

“That’s the spirit! Now what else can we be thankful for?”

“I’m thankful for Cinnamon and Shadow, because they are soft!”

“I will be thankful for the sheep who give their wool to keep me busy,” added Granny.

“I’m thankful for you and Maseppa and Zeke.”

“I’m thankful, too, for you and Maseppa ‘biding with me this winter.”

Maseppa hadn’t been playing the game with them, but looked up at the sound of her name. Her dark eyes softened with gratefulness.

“I’m thankful for fresh cream,” continued Granny. “even if it’s not very much. If you fetch me a bowl of fluffy snow, Phoebe, I’ll show you a nice treat.”

Phoebe found a patch of snow where nothing had disturbed the smooth surface. She shivered in the cold because her shawl had slipped from her shoulders.

“Oh, that’s wonderful! Now, let’s drizzle some thick cream over it and add a bit of maple syrup.” She mixed and stirred while she talked. “Here, take a bite…not too much! It will give you a headache if you eat it too fast!”

Phoebe loved the icy dessert. It was hard to eat it slowly, and a sharp pain hit her temples, but she didn’t care. It was better than gingerbread.


Dee Yoder said...

This is wonderful, Vonnie! I can't wait to read this in book form! (You will autograph a copy-right?)

Joanne Sher said...

Just lovely, Vonnie. You captured the time, and the struggles, so vividly. I'm in love with your characters.

Anonymous said...

You know I like it. When do we go on a book tour?

Sherri Ward said...

You are very creative, this is well-done. The end reminds me of reading long ago - I'm thinking it must have come from Rebecca of Sunny Brook Farm - where they put the maple on the snow. It is a good reminder not to be so "spoiled" by everything and be thankful for the little joys of life.


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