Going to Avalanche

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Photo: Keith Channing

 

The sky was blue when they headed out. Crisp, cold, dry, and sunny, it was the perfect day for some easy back-country skiing.

They planned to be home by lunch.

They did not plan on the weather turning. On clouds so low and so fast that they’d reached zero visibility in almost no time at all.

Joshua could see that Daniel was two steps away from panic. That would not do. Not with the children with them.

“Take the rear,”  Joshua ordered.

If Daniel frowned at his bossy tone, the heavy fog covered it. Joshua stood his ground, literally, till Daniel maneuvered his skis so he was behind the two youngest. Good enough.

Joshua took a breath and tried to get a read from the weather. It was probably best to shelter in place till the fog lifted, but if the weather was about to get worse, it was better they got back before conditions deteriorated further.

There was no way to know for sure, but his gut’s tightening signaled that the latter option was the one to take. His hand tightened around the compass hanging from his pocket. He’d need it.

“Mark! Sally!” he cupped his hands and called for the two older children who, true to form, used any break in skiing for a snowball fight. The wind snatched his voice and he realized that it, too, had gotten worse in the last few minutes.

“Daniel, get them!” he shouted. “Timmy, Ronny, Sid, and Shirley, stay close to me.”

Shirley nodded and clung to his arm. “Are we going to Avalanche?” her voice shook.

“Avalanche isn’t a place, honey,” he replied over the thunder in his chest. “It’s when a lot of snow slides down the mountain. We’re not in an avalanche zone, so you don’t need to worry.”

“But it’s all white,” she sniffled, “and I’m cold.”

“I know, little one. The weather turned on us. We’ll get everyone in line and we’ll get moving and you’ll soon get warm. Timmy, Ron, and Sid, you okay back there?”

The boys nodded unconvincingly.

Daniel herded Mark and Sally closer to the rest and sandwiched them between the younger children and himself.

“Let’s go!” Joshua yelled, his voice barely audible in the whistling wind. “Keep your eyes on the person in front of you. Daniel, use your whistle if you need help.”

Daniel lifted his ski in response.

Joshua concentrated on the compass, on the next few steps. Everything he loved in this world was behind him. The white settled all around and he felt small. Like when he was ten and the world had come down around him in a tumble.

He shook the memory away.

This time he was not going to Avalanche.

He was going to get them — all of them — home.

 

 

 

For Kreative Kue 239

 

 

Pink Sky Won’t Lie

Photo: Sue Vincent

 

There it was.

Now she knew what would certainly happen. It did not matter that the calendar had counted down the days for many weeks. It did not matter that arrangements have been made, checklists marked, letters sent, particulars organized. She suspected, she resisted, she pretended …

Till now.

“Pink sky won’t lie,” her grandfather had always said. A fisherman all his life, he’d counted on the minutia of the heavens to warn or greet his days.

She’d learned to accept his observations, no matter how disappointed she was with a last minute reversal of plans he’d made for her to go with him. “The water is no place for children today,” he’d say. And saddened though she’d be, she knew enough to respect his judgment of the weather, and knew him well enough to know that nothing she could say or do would dissuade him once he’d made up his mind.

“God may control the weather,” he’d tell her (though always well out of earshot of her grandmother, who would’ve boxed his ears for speaking heresy, grown man or not). “But to me the weather is the real God. I can’t see God, but I sure can see these skies, and I know what they tell me. I heed those clouds. I heed those waves. I heed those colors in the sky.”

And heed he had. Though heeding did not mean one could always escape the wrath of what was coming.

The waves had claimed her grandfather when she was not yet ten. A fast-moving storm that all had later said no one could’ve out-rowed. She almost stopped believing after that. Stopped taking heed.

Because if Grandfather couldn’t read the sky or if the sky could hide its meaning from him, why even bother trying? What will be, will be. Que Sera sera.

And yet, someplace, she never did stop checking the color of the heavens every morning. Somehow, she never did stop glancing out of windows, no matter where in the world she found herself, or how far from any seas or oceans.

Oh, she listened to the forecast. She had the Telly on while she got herself ready for the day. She checked the extended before she packed.

Yet she trusted few things better than what her own eyes showed her: Pink sky at night, sailor’s delight. Pink sky in the morning, means sailor’s warning.

The sky were ablaze.

It was dawn.

She considered herself warned.

 

 

 

For Sue Vincent’s WritePhoto Challenge