The tires of the car whirred, spinning in place, and spewing snow out the back. The Honda was stuck halfway in and out of the driveway blocking the 4-Wheel Drive vehicle in front.
“Take the sled, shove it under the wheel to give it some traction,” I suggest.
The neon green sled, the thinnest ten dollar plastic is brought forward.
“Ayla will be so sad if we destroy her sled,” my friend says about her daughter.
But we need something flat. We’ve tried medium logs, the base of a shovel. The green slide is shoved under the tire. We all stare at the car, the neon is garish against the snow. Collectively we change our mind. If we’re stuck in this cabin in Lake Tahoe, at least one person should enjoy her time here.
James removes the sled from the ground and passes it back to Gena who takes it to snow covered backyard, treasuring it like a lost relic found. The snow isn’t stopping. A small, wet falling turns to light flurries. The limbs of the trees are weighted down with it. Large crashes resound around the house as branches break off and send plumes of white wafting from above and below. Brad revs the engine again. James digs around the wheel base.
I walk away to grab my camera. I meet Gena and her daughter in the backyard. It is the first time for both of them seeing snow. One is three the other is thirty-four, sharing this moment for the first time. Gena is on her knees, scooping the crunchy white matter into a ball. They are building a snowman. He is tiny. No higher than my knee. Ayla leans down and pushes a baby carrot into his face for a nose. Two coffee beans become his eyes and a macaroni noodle is placed upside down as a frown. This is not a happy snowman, but he exists.
Ayla doesn’t want the snow in her glove. She is cold. She stares at the glove on the ground and laments it. We try to tell her that if she wears the glove the snow won’t get in and it will keep her hand warm. The snow continues to fall. The backyard is turning into a swimming pool of tufts of white snow.
Gena grabs the sled. Ayla climbs in. They circle the backyard. Baby-voiced “weees” circle me as I take photos. A louder shout is heard from the front yard. The boys have unstuck the car. We run to the front to meet them.
James has piled enough small sticks and logs to make a flat, snow free area from which the tire was able to break free. Brad pulls the Honda into its original spot. The driveway is free. I look around. The snow is only getting thicker. In the distance all I see is white sky.
The boys crowd into the car. Will I be going to the mountain today? No, thank you. I follow the girls back into the house as the boys head for the ski resort. We watch the snow fall outside the window, warm inside, covered in blankets and drinking hot cocoa.
We remember the turkey. Gena bravely pulls out the innards while I stand behind and watch. As she rips the plastic tubing that holds them inside the carcass a miniscule piece of turkey flesh flies through the air and flings into my eye. We laugh. I wipe my eye incessantly while Gena rubs butter into and under the turkey skin. Soon the house is filled with the heartwarming smell of slowly cooking turkey meat. It feels like Christmas only its February.
The boys come home. We join their snowboard aching bodies in the hot tub. The snow continues to fall. Our feet are freezing as we carefully try to jump through the slush on the ground to make it to the tub. Everything is pins and needles. Then we look up. The snow coats are faces. We’re so warm we can’t feel it. It floats around us, falls on our shoulders, catches in the buns in our hair and makes us look like we have mini-snowman on our heads. Our sad snowman in the yard looks on at us disapprovingly. Gena is amazed. We linger even after the boys have gotten out.
The snow never stops. Loud cracking sounds bang against the windows as snow and limbs break off and fall around the house. We jump each time we hear it. We wake to an even thicker coating on the ground, the trees almost pure white. Our friends go sledding. James and I make it halfway to the ski resort and turn back. We get hot toddies at a bar by the lake that we can’t see through the blizzard. We return home. We read snuggled together in bed with the blue light of the storm swirling outside the window. Suddenly everything is dark. The lights have gone out.
We meet our friends down stairs. All our iPhones brandished in front of us with the lights on. A glimmer of light emanates from the corner of the room where we only just started a fire. We search each cabinet for candles. This is someone else’s home. An AirBnB. We find one tapered candle and light it for the table. We have the leftover turkey in the fridge. We make a sandwich assembly line in the kitchen by the light of our phones. We eat around the candle light. The light flickers back on. It is time for Ayla to go to bed.
We set up Catan, our fifth round of a different expansion. We grab our wine. We stoke the fire. We throw aluminum foil covered smores into the wood stove. The chocolate melts around the marshmallows as we build our cities and conquer Catan. We laugh. We are warm. We are fed.
The next day, the sun comes out. But a little part of us wishes it hadn’t.
Snow by Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye: