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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Winter (the season) (08/13/09)

TITLE: The Year She Discovered the Particular Delights of Winter
By Jackie Wilson


Using her whole body, Katrina slung the heavy quilt across the clothesline, then straightened it so the edges hung evenly. The line sagged in the middle from the weight, but thanks to her Hans, who had strung the rough ropes high and taut, there would be no dirty hems on her clean laundry!

As her hands moved quickly and surely to complete the week’s washing, Katrina’s mind was whirring like her treasured foot-pedal sewing machine. Her thoughts clicked along, skipping from one notion to another. First, she laid out the rest of today’s chores in an orderly fashion, then she pondered the meaning of a Bible verse from last night’s devotions. And, of course, her thoughts always circled back around to her new husband and the unknown prospect of their first winter in the new territory here in America.

How could you dread something so much and yet look forward to it so much, all at the same time? Winter was now upon them, and Katrina’s childhood experiences with that time of ice and snow and forced confinement caused her to view its arrival with trepidation. But, she wondered, what would it be like to spend long days in quiet conversation with someone she admired and loved? Perhaps the frosty winter days would be sweet with learning all about each other and making plans for their future together!

The temperature was dropping, so Katrina hastily gathered her baskets, eager to return to the warmth of the small log cabin Hans had built for her. It was so new that the logs still smelt tangy and had the warm look of honey. Eventually the sweet aroma would fade away, and the logs would turn gray, but Katrina vowed she would keep the memory of her first new home tucked away in a special place in her heart.

The day passed and daylight waned. The clouds turned dark gray and seemed to draw closer to the earth. As Katrina hurried to bring in the wash, the wind came up, making her wrestle with the unruly sheets and quilts. Hans would be in from the woods soon, and she still had such a desire to show him what a good cook she was!

That evening, after what her husband called “an excellent dinner”, Katrina and Hans took turns reading from the Bible, at times having to speak loudly to hear each other above the roar of the wind. When a loud “boom” sounded directly above them, the reading stopped abruptly and their eyes met. They moved as one toward the cabin door.

Pushing open the heavy wooden door, they shivered as the icy wind rushed through their clothing. The fresh fallen snow was already ankle deep. Their steps crunched as they moved a few feet out into the storm. Peering up through the swirling curtain of snowflakes, they could just barely discern the huge pine limb that the wind had broken off, now laying atop their cabin.

“How fortunate that you built our cabin so strong!” Katrina marveled.

“How blessed we are that it was a limb and not the whole tree!” Hans answered. “Come. Let’s go back inside where it’s warm. I can remove the limb tomorrow.”

But, alas, the storm continued for three more days. Except for bringing in more wood, or toting fresh water from the well, the two remained snug and cozy by the fire. Hans brought out the checkerboard he had made and taught Katrina to play checkers so well that she was soon trouncing him soundly. (At least every other time!) From her hope chest, Katrina retrieved her well beloved collection of books, seven in all, and spent several pleasant hours reading aloud while her husband repaired his tools, and worked on carving more serving bowls for her.

The third morning dawned clear and calm, the air fresh and exuberating, as Katrina awoke. Stretching with relaxed pleasure, she smiled to hear Hans up on the roof, already busy cleaning up from the winter storm. The smell of fresh brewed coffee made her giggle with delight. Her wonderful husband was so good to her! Despite the morning cold in the cabin, she bounced out of bed and quickly dressed by the fire. She was going to prepare a hearty breakfast for her Hans, then spend the rest of this beautiful winter day outside, working alongside her husband.

She loved winter!

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Member Comments
Member Date
Mildred Sheldon08/20/09
I loved this story. It was such a delight to read. Keep up the good work.
Sunny Loomis 08/26/09
Well described. Very nicely done.
Al Lovelady08/27/09
Excellent job! I felt like I was there in the cabin with them. Your descriptions of the scenes were very vivid.
Colin Nielsen08/29/09
Congratulations on the fine entry and the highly commended award. The standard of this challenge level really surprised me. I liked the way you compare her thoughts to a sewing machine Thoughts clicking along. Very good. You also nailed the setting topic and genre I could only find three things that you might want to look at for improvement. And one is really picky.
1) Watch for passive writing. Strong verbs are preferable (This is the picky thing)

2) I felt the story a little unrealistic. They are newly married, love each other to bits, are obviously still in the honeymoon period, are alone, and spend their time reading the bible and playing checkers???
What is wrong with this picture? I don't know what the rules are for the inclusion of sex here, but it should never be avoided. There are ways it can be done tastefully. Song of songs is actually in the word of God.

3) This brings me to the last thing, no conflict. The branch on the cabin doesn't count because the thing didn't lead the characters to make a decision. Everything seemed a little too perfect. And in fiction perfect characters = boring story. You can probably get away with it here because this is flash, but this kind of thing is fatal in a novel or short story. Anyway. I hope I've helped. If you feel my comments are too harsh, then feel free to ignore anything I say. LOL