The storm passed. Cold white clouds parted and a bright sun reflected off the white landscape. It had been a big storm, dumping more than a foot of snow, which the winds whipped into huge drifts. One drift was six feet high and stretched across our lawn, parallel to the driveway.
“Mum, can I go out and play now?” I asked.
Mum looked outside. “OK, but be careful. Stay in the yard.” She warned. Mum bundled me up: sweater, thick winter coat, hat, scarf, and a pair of winter boots that were so heavy, they felt like lead blocks on my feet. The strong wind ripped the door from my hand as I stepped outside. With Mum’s help, we got it closed, but not before every loose paper on the kitchen table was blown to the floor. Carrying Dad’s shovel, I waddled to the drift by the driveway. It was packed tight by the wind and easily held my weight. I climbed to the top and looked out over Dad’s car. I was on top of the world.
I walked to one end and started to dig. I placed the blocks of snow I dug out of the hole around the opening of my soon-to-be snow cave. They stacked up like the walls of a castle and would provide shelter from the attacking armies. When I was done, the cave was long enough to stretch out and deep enough for me to crawl in, turn around and face the opening. The sunlight penetrated the roof, bathing everything in an eerie, turquoise glow.
My friend Jimmy stopped by. We went to work and soon had half the drift hollowed out. There was enough room for us and a couple more friends. Other kids joined us, teams were picked, and a mock battle was staged. Jimmy and I, with a few others, manned the fort as the opposing forces attacked.
I lifted my head from the hole. A snowball sailed in my direction. I ducked, but not fast enough. My hat was ripped from my head and powdered snow floated into the cave as I retreated to safety. “That was close!” Jimmy said.
“Too close!” I laughed and brushed snow from my face. “Let’s dig a hole out the back of the drift. We can sneak out and get behind them.”
“Good idea.” Jimmy said. “Timmy, you and Wade stay in here. Throw a snowball out every once in a while. They’ll think they have us trapped. Mike and I will sneak out and get behind them. When you hear us yell ‘Attack!’ Jump out and start firing.”
“We’ll get them twice! First we’ll hit them from behind. When they turn to fight back, you guys can get them again.”
Our escape hatch was ready. We put our hands together, “All for one and one for all!” We yelled. Jimmy and I disappeared through the hole, crawled around Dad’s car, wadded through the deep snow, and disappeared behind my house. We circled around the hill behind the enemy and crawled through the snow to the top. We had a clear view of the battle zone. Three of them hid behind a wall of snow-bricks. “When did they build that, Jimmy?”
“I don’t know, but they sure built it fast.” Jimmy said. He slapped my arm. “Look Kevin is digging into the back of our drift. He’s trying to sneak in. “OK! On the count of three, we’ll jump up, yell ‘Attack!’ and let them have it. We’ll focus on the three behind the wall. We have them trapped. When Timmy and Wade pop up, they can take care of Kevin. You ready?” Jimmy nodded. “Ok! Let’s do it!” I Stood. “Attack!” we both yelled and began to fire on the three behind the wall. Our first volley was a success. We got all three of them before they turned on us.
“Where’s Timmy and Wade?” Jimmy yelled as he took a direct hit to the side of the head. He dug snow from his red ear as another snowball struck the top of his head and disintegrated into a shower of ice crystals. “I don’t know!” I said. “Let’s try again.” We both screamed, “ATTACK! ATTACK! ATTACK!”
Inside the drift, Timmy and Wade waited. “Did you hear something?” Wade asked. Vapor drifted from his mouth and nose with each breath. “I can’t hear a thing.” Timmy replied. “Do you think we should check?” “They said to wait until they yelled.” “What if we can’t hear them?” “We’ll here them, Timmy.” Wade answered. They waited while the short-lived battle roared outside.
There were heavy casualties. Jimmy and I were beaten. My hair was matted with ice. Jimmy was flat on his back, covered in snow. One of my hands was red and raw. The mitten protecting it, froze to a snowball, and was launched into the opposition’s side of the border. We raised our hands in surrender. Timmy and Wade soon were taken prisoner and marched to a firing squad. They were brave men. We were proud to have fought with them.
“That was fun!” Craig said. “Can we do it again tomorrow? This time we get the cave.”
“Deal! See ya, guys!”
A cold wind whipped powdered snow into my face. It stunk my cheeks, before melting, and dripping from my chin. I picked up a handful of snow, squeezed it tight in my hands, and made a snowball. My target, a castle made from blocks of snow carefully cut from the hard-packed snowdrift that stretched the length of our yard, towered on a rock in front of me. I took aim and hurled my snowball at it. It went high, landed in a drift behind the castle, and created a small crater. I made another snowball and fired again. This one hit the left tower of the castle. A turret toppled over. In my imagination, the evil wizard screamed, “You will pay for this, King Michael.!”
The captured maiden screamed, “King Michael, save me!”
Another snowball crashed into the castle. The evil wizard cursed as his castle came crashing down around him. The snow maiden leaped and landed safely in the feathery snow. She stood and waved, “I love you, King Michael!”
“Michael, time for supper!” Mum called from the house. My maiden faded from view—back to reality.
TO BE CONTINUED …