In December, this Southern girl packed a 26-foot rental truck with all my worldly possessions, hooked up a car trailer, and left Alabama, my grown children, friends, job (and oh yes, my ex-husband) and pointed the car/truck contraption to a destination 1,300 miles west. To a new life and a new adventure—the physical journey known! The life journey and ultimate outcome, not so much. As I was climbing out of my car through the window, fielding questions from my midnight, dog-walking neighbor inquiring if I was moving, I looked down at my “Follow your Dreams” T-shirt and for one last time questioned my decision to move west. That’s another story. Let’s just say reading is a valuable skill and the importance of reading instructions, even on your T-shirt, is underappreciated.
My dog and I left the sultry south for the wild west. We successfully managed to drive and admire the American landscape for that 1,300 miles in the largest, longest vehicle I have ever driven. No one was maimed, no gas pumps blown up, and I didn’t get lost. We even managed to navigate the Dallas traffic without incident. I felt on top of the world. I could do anything. I was invincible.
My string of good fortune continued. The universe had more than just smiled on me. I had the best friends that sheltered me as I settled in and played find-a-house in a hotter than hot market. They fed me local favorites, served me champagne from the local winery, and showed me around town. I fell in love with my new home state of New Mexico. As a curly-haired Southern girl, frizzy hair has been the bane of my existence. No one ever told me about the miracles of the moisture-less air out here. “Come to New Mexico for amazing hair” should be the state motto. The hiking, the Hatch green chilis, the many bounties of this state are extra.
Until the snow.
It all started last week. The weather forecasters were in a fever pitch. The Super Bowl of weather was coming. They got major airtime. It was going to be cold. The conditions were perfect for accumulation. I lived in the city. I was a veteran of hurricanes. I had boots, gloves, and a long down jacket. I was invincible, have I mentioned that? Winter watches were posted for days. I was excited for snow. It was supposed to start after midnight. I waited up. At midnight, I threw open the doors, the artic blast created instant goosebumps, and the dog and I plunged into the darkness. We gazed up. Nothing. Not even the spectacular universe of stars was present. No precipitation from the sky. Deflated and shivering, I headed to bed.
My alarm roused me from dreams of a winter wonderland. I bounded out of bed, tossing the comforter and three blankets to the floor and threw open the drapes. Nothing. I trudged to the kitchen, started the coffee, and let the dog out. Wait. There was something falling from the sky. It wasn’t perfectly formed works of art. It was more like ugly little ice shards. The weather people lied. Where was my first snow? The fluffy, pristine white miracles of Mother Nature that made you want to curl up by the fire with a hot drink and hotter book? Ice. Hmm. That possibility never entered my mind. How do you drive in that? Luckily, there was nothing on the streets. My commute to my new job—oh, another story—was without incident. The feeling of being robbed of a milestone event lingered as did the sleet.
Throughout the morning I wandered past the windows, assessing the weather situation. People started leaving around noon. As the parking lot emptied, I noticed there was ice. I heard a passing comment of “Got to get the ice scraper out”. That got me thinking and wondering, “What’s an ice scraper?” and “Why isn’t there a winter storm prepared checklist?” Just then my email dinged with a note from the Safety department. I was supposed to wear my boots to the office then change into regular shoes. Note to self as I looked down at my winter boots. I did not dare venture out for lunch. What was I thinking? Did I not follow that thought through – like I wouldn’t have to drive home? I hunkered down in my jacket and boots working at my desk, apprehension growing.
My trips past the windows grew in frequency. It was bleak outside. The wind was blowing great gusts of ice, and dare I call it snow, around the lot and building. Where was the picturesque, magical snow? Where were my co-workers’ cars? How do you drive in ice? Visions of news stories from the great Birmingham ice storm flooded my mind. By three, my excitement for snow was completely extinguished and fear of the commute home made work impossible just as the Director of Safety walked past. She noticed me. “What are you still doing here? Haven’t you seen the roads?” I explained that I was new and this was my first winter storm in town. She stopped and gave me a quick overview of winter driving: go slow especially around corners, leave lots of room between cars, and don’t brake when you slide. And I thought driving cross country in a pseudo tractor trailer was daunting!
I made it the 1.7 uphill miles to my house, again without incident. The invincibility feeling was not coursing through my blood like previously. I was cold, hunkered down in my house looking out wistfully, grateful to be home safe. The pantry was not stocked with hearty foods. Spring mix lettuce ruled the fridge along with a nice bottle of Gruner Veltliner. Apparently, I was still a shopping southern girl. Night fell on the confused Southern girl with the meteorologists still predicting snow.
The alarm roused me the next morning well before sunrise. I headed to the kitchen for coffee. I didn’t need to turn on the light to see. The moonlight was reflecting off the most exquisite pale powder in my back yard. I ran for my boots and bathrobe. The dog danced at the door. Warm coffee in hand, I opened the door. I didn’t notice the steam coming off my drink or the frigid air blasting. The stars sparkled. It was blissfully still and quiet. Mother Nature had pulled out all the stops. It was all I had imagined. The dog raced through the accumulation like a puppy, barking. Flurries were still falling. It was breathtaking (not just from the temperature). I tossed my head back, twirled, stuck my tongue out to catch snowflakes, and laughed. I threw a snowball at my dog, missed! And, OMG, just missed an attractive, bathrobe clad man, who was peering over the wall at us. I pulled my bathrobe back tight and looked again. No neighbor. My dog didn’t bark. Was there a man or not? The bathrobe had been identical to mine, also loosely tied. I tiptoed over and peeked over the divider. There were definitely tracks, but no handsome man?!? No way I could have imagined that? Could I?
Work had been postponed by several hours. I had a free morning. I turned on the gas fireplace, snuggled into my favorite chair with a steamy novel, and mused about my experience as I finished my second cup of coffee. Yes, there had been a neighbor. No, not possible. But the tracks. Yes. He had been there. I think.
For the first time, the girl felt like a Western girl, the journey wonderfully unpredictable with endless possibilities.
I hope the winter storms that have been ravaging the country find you safe, warm, and reading your favorite authors. I had the most fortunate opportunity to contribute to Passionate Ink’s Falling Hard charity anthology. It’s a collection of seven erotic short stories that benefit Proliteracy.
Check it out if you are looking to discover new authors and stories ranging from historical to paranormal to contemporary. It’s available at Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. Also take a moment to learn about the wonderful work of www.Proliteracy.org.
What are you reading and how are you coping with the winter weather? I would love to hear from you.
Thank you to Delilah Devlin for letting me post on her site and reach her fantastic readers.
About the Author
Candice LaBria is a writer of erotic romance short stories and a member of Passionate Ink. She is on Facebook facebook.com/CandiceLaBria, and Instagram and Twitter @Bria_Writes. Her website is www.CandiceLabria.com.