An excerpt from The Sparrow’s Choice. One of my favorite winter scenes:
At the far end of the stable Sky had Red Boy all hooked up to the sleigh. The sleigh was old, a Portland cutter. It was a faded black with red pin striping but it shined with its fresh polishing. Sky helped Calandra and Everett onto the green velveteen seat and pulled a buffalo robe over their laps. He untethered Red Boy and climbed in next to Everett, pulling the robe up to Everett’s chin.
“Bunch up in there and we’ll keep you warm and toasty.” Sky said to Everett. He gave Calandra a wink and clicked to Tom. The sleigh started away easily on the frozen ground. There were stares from the group at the fire as they watched their nurse and her son off on a sleigh ride with Mr. Sky Crossing. The three in the sleigh just laughed and waved.
The ride was exhilarating and absolutely freezing. Everett pulled the robe up until only his eyes were showing. Calandra pulled his hat down a little further and did the same with hers. Despite the cold she was glad she’d consented. She’d been on a sleigh ride before, but it was through the streets of Boston, nothing like the open country of their valley with its surrounding snow draped peaks and flocked hillsides. They went cross country, coming out on a rise where they could see Hidden Lodge Butte in the distance, like a frozen crystallized cake out on the flat of the valley. They turned east and worked their way down through the willows and onto Lost Horse Creek. They flew up the frozen creek, Red Boy pounding on the ice, the sleigh skidding in the turns. Everett’s giggles bubbled up from under the robe. Calandra knew she was smiling but she could barely feel her face. Sky’s fur hat and scarf were ice encrusted but he seemed unaffected by the wind chill.
It was dusk when they pulled off the frozen creek just before the pump house. Snow spraying off Red Boy’s hooves had formed an icy crust across their laps. They came up to the school grounds from the south. Red Boy knew when it was time to bring the sleigh to a stop. He stood panting plumes of frosty breath out his iced and bristly nose. Sky climbed down and unburied Everett.
“Was that fun?”
“Yes, sir, thank you, sir!”
“It was fun for me, too, thank you for coming. Off to the fire with you now, thaw out your cheeks.”
Sky turned to Calandra and helped her down. She still had the robe around her, it was so very cold. Sky pulled it up closer around her neck. They stood there for a moment, barely able to see each others faces in the falling darkness. Finally Calandra took the robe from her shoulders and handed it to him. There was so much about him she didn’t know. His kindness was a pleasant surprise.
“Thank you for the lovely ride, Mr. Sky Crossing. We’re most grateful. That was a wonderful treat for Everett.” Calandra hoped he could read in her smile how grateful she was for the invitation. “I need to go join him by that fire.” She turned to walk away but stopped, looking back at Sky.
“How did you know I would go with you?”
“I didn’t” Sky said quietly, “but was truly hoping you would.”
I have another sleigh ride I’ll send the next time I need a winter fix 🙂