It seems many of us have been talking about seasons in the past few weeks. I know that I did in my last post about those decadent Nashville House Fried Biscuits. Incidentally, this afternoon I've been making batches of pear and apple butter. The aroma has permeated the furniture and maybe the cats, too. I'm about to ladle the last batch from my Instant Pot into the last of my quart jars. It's a good thing that I had some leftover from a friend's wedding table decor.
The canning is the result of guilt at the potential waste and the fact that our house seems to be the depository for the neighbors' excess bounty. Everyone seems to think our ponies are starving. Some notes that have been left with the boxes indicate the gifter's proposed purpose for the aforesaid fruit.
Unfortunately, our aging quarter horse has an old man's digestion so no apples for him. That leaves a house full of lovely cinnamon scent and a counter full of filled jars of yummy sweetness. Why should I complain?
Fear of the unknown can impede the joy of discovery.
The canning of harvest fruit is only one of many signs of winter's inevitable approach. I choose my down vest now before I head out to the barn, and the ponies breathe out soft steam clouds as they chuffle their morning greetings. This week we were tucking the perennials and more tender broad-leaf plants into the greenhouses at the nursery, putting them to bed. Hands are cold now as we plant the last of the fall bulbs into pots that will be bursting with those yellow daffodils and narcissus come the spring.
We who are compelled to write by unseen forces often find our stories a means of working out our personal fears and concerns. That was certainly the case for me when I took up my pen a year ago to write Comes The Winter. I finished it just about this time in 2017 when I was filled with dread of dealing with a long dreary winter. The winter became a villain in the story of Lena and Evan facing their own fearful season in the isolated mountain town of Sawtooth City, just south of the present-day Stanley, Idaho.
For those of you who have read the story, you may recall the treacherous pass that Evan faced upon his return to Sawtooth and Lena. My husband and I had made that route the previous summer after reading several harrowing tales of those caught there in winter storms over the century. In summer it is a place of wondrous beauty with expansive views of green pastures flowing up to snow-capped jagged mountains. But winter storms would have made travel a life-threatening venture.
Like my heroine, Lena, the months have changed my perspective. We both needed time to see the beauty of the season so that our fear would be tempered by experience and wonder. Fear can transform to respect. But fear unchecked can impede the joy of discovery. So, we who live in these harsh climates, feather our nests, stock our pantries with apple butter, mulch the flower and vegetable beds, and keep our eyes wide open to see what the season brings.
There is beauty in a sunset glowing through unclothed branches, where bird silhouettes perch appreciating the same twilight show as me. There is startling wonder at the sight of a flock of Trumpeter Swans returning to the sleeping corn fields to glean winter nourishment. And in front of a crackling wood stove, while the temperatures are dropping and a mug of steaming tea sits within reach of my fingertips, there is time to imagine the next story, and the next, and . . .
Meet the Author
Comes The Winter
Avalanches, isolation and snow blindness were stark realities for those daring to remain in Idaho’s Sawtooth Range through the harsh winter months. For city dweller, Lena Sommer, the warnings seemed exaggerated.
In the fall of 1886, Lena leaves behind a life fraught with disappointments and loss only to arrive in Sawtooth City and find the man she’d pledged to marry has been killed. To return east is unthinkable; to stay is ill-advised, but she resolves to remain and manage the man’s lodging house despite the warnings.
More than her stubborn nature influences her decision. From her first glimpse of this mountain valley, she falls captive to its wild beauty. Feeling she has at last found a hearth to call her own, she eagerly puts down roots. Sharing her love of literature with her lodgers before a warming fire, she builds a family of lonesome souls, where dreams awaken.
However, one man stands apart, disturbing her peace with ominous warnings to leave before winter comes. Evan Hartmann knows from personal loss that winter snows bring to these mountains both unimaginable beauty and death. He is also a man conflicted, because as much as he’d like for Lena to leave the mountains, his heart longs for her to stay.
Comes The Winter by Samantha St. Claire
Genre: Historical Fiction
Heat Level: 1
Language Level: 1
Violence Level: 2
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