16 Cold Winter, Warm Thoughts
Are you OK? asked Daddy.
Our car had slid off the country road into a snowdrift . A white world surrounded us-the snowdrift on my side, and the wall of blowing snow on Daddy's. Daddy tried to start the car. Nothing happened. "We're stuck," he said. "Well, who goes after Grandma's worrybox?" I sat on my hands.Daddy tweaked my nose. He climbed out and shut the door.
The white wind swallowed him. I held my breath. I felt the thump of the closing trunk lid. When the door opened, Daddy handed the box to me. He sat down and tugged the door shut.
The next time Grandma sends a worrybox with us because of bad weather, remind me to put it in the back seat, Daddy said.
We pulled out Grandma's emergency supplies: a blanket, a fat candle inside a can, matches, a deck of cards, a banana, and two fruit and grain bars.
The white wind pounded the car as we settled in to wait for help to come. A slight draft cooled the inside air.
Would the young lady care to snuggle ? Daddy wrapped the blanket around us and over our heads. He lit the candle. Its tiny flame flickered . A weak warmth filled our blanket tent.
We need to think warm thoughts, said Daddy. "How about a hot game of Go Fish ?"
With mittens on, it was hard to hold the cards. And when you snuggle, it's easy to see the other player's cards—even when you're not trying to cheat.
I spread my last four cards across Daddy's lap. "I win!"
We played eight more games. I let Daddy win half.
Then we sang warm songs like "You Are My Sunshine". We clapped and stomped as the white wind swirled.
When our teeth chattered , it just made the songs sound sillier. Then we were quiet for a while. Frost spread across the windows. When the wailing wind jostled the car, we snuggled tighter.
Will we stay here tonight? I asked.
I don't think so, Daddy said. "Grandma knows when we left, and Mom knows when we're due home. They'll have people looking for us when the blizzard blows over."
But while we wait, how about a warm-thought contest? Whoever thinks of the warmest thought wins this nutritious, delicious fruit and grain bar, said Daddy. "You start."
I thought. "Hot chocolate?"
Pretty good, said Daddy. "What about... a sunburn on your shoulders?"
I said, "How about ... wearing your furry robe and bunny slippers?"
And while you're wearing your furry robe and bunny slippers, Daddy said, "you're roasting hot dogs over a campfire."
And the campfire is on a sunny beach in California! Top that, Daddy, I said.
Hmmm...got it! said Daddy. "The warmest thought of all time. Ready? Taking a swim in a pool of warm chicken noodle soup. And you're not allowed to hold onto the noodles or sit on the chicken chunks ."
I laughed. "You win this nutritious, delicious fruit and grain bar!"
Daddy split it with me because I was runner-up . We saved the other one and the banana for later. It became quieter outside the car. Above, blue pierced the gray sky. Snowflakes as big as feathers drifted down. Now I could see the snow-topped fence posts on the other side of the road. Our fat candle wasn't very fat anymore. Daddy's nose was red and drippy . My toes stung .
It shouldn't be too much longer now, Daddy said.
I don't think I can wait much longer. A tear rolled from my eye.
Daddy wrapped me in the blanket and lifted me onto his lap. He lowered his cheek to mine. He hummed until his voice cracked . Sunlight fought its way through the clouds and filled our car. It warmed the air a little.
Then-red and blue, red and blue. The county sheriff's department had found us! We got in the police car. It was so warm I took off my hat and mittens. After a while, Daddy did, too. The deputy gave us each a cup of hot chocolate.
Daddy? I want one more chance at the warm-thought contest. OK?
Being in a warm car, drinking hot chocolate, with you as my snuggle partner.
Daddy smiled and kissed my forehead. "I owe you a fruit and grain bar, young lady."
(By Mary Jessie Parker)