I was talking recently with my friend Mary, who read Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always and commented about how she enjoyed seeing Minnesota winter making an appearance in a YA book. We had a pretty good discussion about portrayals of winter in fiction, and it’s had me thinking about winter in YA.
Not YA, but lately I’ve been reading Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass out loud to my family, and the scene we read tonight had some amazingly cool Arctic images as Lyra and a bedraggled group of children are scattering in a snow storm.
And last winter, we read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter, and I’ll never forget the image of school children walking arm in arm to cross the street and narrowly avoiding a wandering death on the prairie through the luck of one hand brushing the edge of the last building. It was a scene I shivered to read to my kids, many years after I first thrilled with the horrors of blizzards from safe in my childhood bedroom.
Sterling Creek, MN — the fictional setting for many of the stories in my head — is definitely a town familiar with winter. In my current WIP (snowmobile crash book), winter is basically another character in the book. (and an attempted murderer, at that!) Here are a few chilly scenes I thought I’d share with you…winter in Sterling Creek!
This snow is the kind that snaps against the window pane in grainy waves, carried by the fiercely gusting winds that rock the corners of the old house. I like weather that reminds me how lucky I am to have shelter.
I like that description because it makes me cold, and I know this snow. It will be snapping against my windows all too soon.
“I know you can’t drink or anything, so I didn’t get any wine,” he said, and I put on my jacket. It was cold out, enough so that your breath would freeze a little, in the time between exhaling and the air actually leaving your mouth or your nose. I put on a red hat, with a little tuft of yarn on the top. When I bent down to grab the back of my boots, to sink my heels into the hollows I had been trudging down all winter, it felt strange, like something was already changing the way my body moved, the way I stooped.
“I’ll get an abortion,” I said. Loud enough for him to hear.
“It’ll be okay,” he said, and he ushered me toward the garage. “You’ll see, Taylor. I promise.”
Obviously this scene is a little more complex, with a pretty big conflict apparent, but I like the way Taylor’s interaction with the cold is a part of her struggle.
One more, this one the perfect set-up to get stranded somewhere…only a little description.
The storm began as most spring storms do, with a sloppy rain. It fell on the roads and froze into a treacherous glaze as the temperature dropped—which was precisely when the rain turned over to snow. A flurry of heavy white flakes fell fast and thick, obscuring the ice.
What do you think? What are some classic wintery images from fiction that stick with you?