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Young Writers: Winter Tales

Each week, Young Writers Project receives several hundred submissions from students in Vermont and New Hampshire in response to writing prompts and selects the best for publication here and in 20 other newspapers and on VPR.net. This week, we publish responses to the prompt, Winter Tales: Tell a narrative about winter in short, descriptive poetry or prose. Several pieces will be selected for presentation by the Vermont Stage Company at its annual Winter Tales production at FlynnSpace, Burlington (Dec. 5-9). Read more at youngwritersproject.org.

Winter in my childhood was a balance of good and bad.

On a farm in the winter, the snow banks were obstacles and the temperature a curse.

I remember taking care of the horses, cows, sheep, goats, and chickens,

wishing they could muck their own stalls and give themselves dinner.

Everything gets harder when it gets dark at 4 o’clock.

When the water pipes froze, my mother and father would

lug buckets of water from the house.

I would lean against my pony and stick my fingers under her mane to keep them warm.

We closed the barn doors at night to keep the cold from

whistling in one end of the barn

and out the other.

There was always one goat or sheep that would foolishly have her babies in February,

and I would sit and watch and get in the way as my mother

dried the lambs or kids off and helped them nurse.

They’d shiver, try to stand up, and fall down. But then they’d try again.

My mother always told me how amazing it was that humans took months to learn to walk,

but animals could learn within 10 minutes. They had to.

No matter how cold it was outside, the barn was a few degrees warmer

and always smelled like hay.

On sunny days, my sister and I ran around

snapping off frozen pine branches to feed to the goats.

My sister, brother and I would run around in the snow

until our snowsuits were completely soaked through.

Then we’d run inside, tracking slush through the house in a zigzag path to the fire.

When I was a kid I could play all day in the snow,

but in the evening, there were always the barn chores to do.

Now that I’m older, it really does feel like a “chore,”

but when I was little, the barn was magic.

Winter: The time when all the leaves have calmly fallen from the trees and the air is chilling to the bone, when you go outside and see the snow gently falling to ground, accumulating to many feet, tempting you to plunge in.

Winter is the most beautiful of the seasons, when you proudly and joyfully walk outside early in the morning with hats and gloves and huge jackets on. You spend all day outside, sometimes just laying face up in the snow and coming back inside hours later, all wet, and you climb into a warm bed.

You can do anything in winter with the snow. You can build snow forts and have snowball fights or you can dig giant tunnels, or just play regular games.

Winter is a time of joy, when everybody and everything is relaxed and delighted.

Breathe the cool, crisp air,

Forget your struggles, and worrisome cares,

The branches of the naked trees,

The forgotten home of your sweet honey bees.

Countless trees sprinkled with love,

A lone crow, singing the song of a dove,

Tinsel coats the walls of your home,

Speak to your grandfather on the old-time phone.

You’re overwhelmed by the snowy mess,

The bitter cold gives off a warm caress.

Shuffle in from the freezing outdoors,

Feel the heat through the carpeted floors.

Your toes begin to thaw,

And never before had you felt so innocent, so raw,

You hope that your life stays like this forever,

Time stops, and you’ve forgotten your past endeavors.

Winter evokes the inner child,

You change from adult to a tiger of the wild,

You analyze the snowflakes that float through the air,

They’re all made individually, with time and with care.

Even when the essence of spring rolls around,

You won’t ever forget the peace that you’ve found,

Winter is the time to find what is important to you,

Whether it is to the snow or the fireplace, many thanks are due.

Step outside

Look up into the dark night sky

of winter

The stars glow

Illuminating the freshly fallen snow

Now twinkling in starlight

Creating a scene so beautiful

Filling you with peace,

with joy,

and with gratitude

For the gift you’ve been given

The gift of light

So that you may witness the beauty of nature

And the gift of clarity

So that you may realize the appreciation nature deserves

Seemingly alone in this moment

yet under this alone-ness

Is a sense of unity

An intimate connection

Between you

And everything else

Short days filled with freezing snow

Cloaking the ground

Falling from the sky

So cold and wet

That you can see your own breath

Like little clouds of fog

Things so silent

Except the crunch of my feet on the snow

Everything around me dead and unmoving

Trees without their pretty leaves

Winter nights

Chill to the bone

Shiver down my spine

Wind howling through the frigid air

Scaring little children in their sleep

Winter: the worst season of the year

Fun-filled days without school

Playing in the snow from dawn to dark

Building snow forts

Making snowmen

Coming home to a cup of hot cocoa

And delicious cookies

Eating warm foods

Winter is so fun

Sledding down huge hills

Skiing and snowboarding

Celebrating the holidays

Giving and receiving gifts

Having a wonderful time

Eating and playing

Cozy nights

Sitting inside by a crackling fire

Roasting marshmallows

And making s’mores

Winter: The best season of the year

Cold and silent,

Except for the whispering howls of the wind.

The bitterness of the winter,

Casting lonely shadows of darkness.

Unlike a meadow full of life and a luscious sky,

But a white prison isolating us from the beauty of the world,

The clouds weeping their frightful tears,

Spilling them onto the land below …

In the darkness, alone,

the moon is a bright hope

in the lost sky.

The wind, pushing, pushing,

wanting to tell your secrets.

Shivers run up your spine.

Brush off the lies and

snowflakes go with it.

Your hands stuff into your pockets.

Inside, the heat is

overpowering. Too much. Too much joy, affection

and love in one place.

It becomes too much to bear.

Out here the cold

steals away your worries,

the gentle flakes cool

you. Breathe. Let it go. Be yourself.

The snow-capped mountains

will not judge you. The moon

is your spotlight, the landscape

your stage. Let your little winter tale out.

The coyotes in the distance are

waiting. Together they sing,

a song of the harsh winter to come.

The ice is your therapy. It freezes your worries.

The pines tremble in anticipation. The snow shoe hares flit

around in agitation. Out here you are yourself.

In there they make you,

shape you, into something you’re

not. You are a winter girl. The one who dances in the chills of January.

The one who laughs in the face

of July. You know it in your

blood that out here is where

you belong. Let your roots guide you

to the ice crystals, The raging blizzard out of doors.

No need to bundle up. The cold runs through

your veins, you, winter girl. You dance in the snow.

Live as if another blizzard were never to

come again. And you sing,

a song, your winter tale, with the coyotes. Let the whole season

hear it. Loud, so loud that summer

cowers in its corner,

too afraid to come out again. So your Winter Tale is the only

one left in the wind.

It was the last silver snowfall but the first winter calf: March 29, 2012. After 11 straight bulls being born, Howe Acres Perceous Tardy was born. She was named Tardy because she was late. She and her wobbly new legs hobbled over to Tara, her mother, for some milk. I came running out of the barn with a blanket. I patted Tara and said, “Well done.”

By the time the snow melted Tardy had strong, beautiful legs. But I can still remember her wobbly ones and when she stared curiously at the new crust on the snow and the first barn owl she saw and the first bottle I fed her and the first rope I led her with. I couldn’t stop thinking about the good stuff. I had warned myself that it’s bad sometimes when winter calves are born. Some farms just leave the calf, and it dies of hypothermia or its whole body gets frostbite. Those things can happen, but my little Tardy stuck through it because our Chapman Family Farm took care of my Tardy.

My dad says when Tardy has a calf that calf will be a winter calf, and so I will write my story on her — unless it’s a bull. If it’s a bull it’ll get shipped away. Bulls don’t exactly last long around here.

Next prompt:

Reflection. What is something you wish you’d been told when you were 5 years old? Alternate: Photo 6. Write about a photo of the single chair at Mad River Glen (see it at youngwritersproject.org). Due Dec. 14.