Eleanora Does Not Hate Winter

Submitted into Contest #227 in response to: Start your story with a description of the cold, using lots of sensory detail.... view prompt



*mentions description of animal remains

“I hate winter,” Eleanora grumbled.

Even as the words were leaving her lips, she knew it wasn’t true. She didn’t hate winter. She just hadn’t had enough time to enjoy the good parts of the season.

Eleanora took a deep breath in through her nose and felt her nostrils stick together. Yep, it was cold out. Her cheeks were stinging already. She blew air out of her mouth and could instantly see her breath. She pulled her balaclava up over her nose and slipped her hand back into her mitten. She really didn’t want to go on this hike, but she knew that she needed to.

The normally bustling parking lot was empty, except for her car. She might actually be the only one out here today. She was glad she’d decided to wear snow pants, and had thought to put her wool on underneath. Eleanora didn’t like the restrictive feeling of layers, but they were more than necessary.

Her toes already ached from the frigidness of the outdoors. She wiggled them inside her boots, and knew that she’d better get moving.

“This is probably a bad idea,” she muttered, as she turned onto the trail.

She walked, hunched over, head down. The scowl on her face was hidden by the thick piece of fleece that was protecting her skin. The snow beneath her boots crunched with each step she took.

Eleanora followed the trail up a hill. At the top, she wound around a cluster of pine trees. Their branches had been painted with a thin layer of snow that  sparkled when the sun hit it. Every once in a while, when the wind blew, a dusting of shimmery powder misted onto her face. The shock of cold jolted her each time.

The path curved to take her downhill, past giant oaks and later, maple trees. A tap tap tapping noise caused her look up. Eleanora gasped when she caught a glimpse of the vibrant red head that was making the sound. She recognized the undulating flight of a pileated woodpecker moving from one tree to another.

Eleanora turned her face to the sun and closed her eyes. If she held her breath, she could feel the warmth of the rays, even on this bitter, cold day. A gust of wind blew, and the tree branches creaked and groaned in protest. When Eleanora opened her eyes, she was amazed at how sharp the bare treetops looked against the brilliantly blue sky.

Gazing up, she felt herself relax. The tension in her shoulders was instantly gone.  Eleanora pulled her balaclava down, exposing her cheeks, nose, and lips. She wanted to breathe in the fresh, crisp air. She needed to feel the slap of the cold on her cheeks again. She was desperate to BE outside.

When her cheeks started to burn, Eleanora pulled her balaclava back up over her nose. She continued to follow the trail, past logs, stumps, and fallen trees. She paused to admire some tiny deer tracks, perfectly stamped in the packed snow. She dodged several piles of scat, and tried to avoid looking at the innards of some poor creature that had likely been dinner for a coyote. 

Her curiosity got the best of her, and she backtracked to the remains. She could make out intestines. Based on the small round poop balls she that she could tell were inside, she guessed it was from a rabbit. Her assumption was confirmed when she spotted some grayish brown fur and a clump of white tail that had been dragged just off the trail.

With rabbits at the front of her mind, Eleanora began noticing splashes of blue in the snow along the path. She knew this was the urine of rabbits who had to resort to eating buckthorn because it was winter, but it amused her still. It was hard to believe that urine could be a Smurf shade of blue.

When Eleanora reached a flat section of trail, she scanned the ground for scat and anything else disgusting. When she was sure that the snow was clean, she sprawled out on her back in the middle of the path. She waved her arms up and down, while moving her legs from side to side. She sat up carefully, then stood to admire her snow angel. 

If the snow had been the sticky kind, she would have rolled balls to create a snow person. It was too cold for sticky snow, so Eleanora had to settle for snow angels. She made three in a row across the path. She was glad that no one else was here to see her playing in such a childish way.

Eleanora knew she was about halfway done with the hike when she came to the boardwalk. The water on either side was completely frozen over, with several inches of snow on top of the ice. Eleanora felt giddy when she identified multiple otter slides on the lake. 

She tried to pick up the pace for the second half of the hike. Her thighs were screaming at her as she tromped through the ankle deep snow. The trails on this side of the lake were not as well groomed, and Eleanora was beginning to work up a sweat under her layers.

Her body was working harder, but her mind felt at ease. Before she knew it, she passed a trail sign directing her to the parking lot. She was back on the plowed section of trails. Eleanora began to run, which still wasn’t easy, because of her snow pants and boots. She slipped on a slick patch of ice and went down hard, but popped back up right away. She scanned the trees, praying that no one else saw her fall.

Eleanora took it slow the rest of the way. When she finally reached her car, she fumbled with the keys to get it to unlock. She slid into the driver’s seat, slammed the door shut, and started the engine. She turned the heat and blower on full blast, then cracked open the thermos of hot cocoa that was waiting for her. The sweet, creamy drink filled her with warmth. Eleanora sat for a few moments, savoring the treat, and her time in the woods, before driving home.

December 09, 2023 03:45

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18:59 Dec 13, 2023

Great descriptions!


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Mary Bendickson
01:55 Dec 11, 2023

What a snow day! Sometimes we forget to stop and smell the ...


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Hannah Lynn
23:18 Dec 10, 2023

I really enjoyed this and felt like I was on the trail. You captured the feeling of being in nature when you stop and see how beautiful it is. Well done and BRRR I felt cold reading this!


Chelsey B
00:00 Dec 11, 2023

Thank you!


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Malcolm Twigg
08:19 Dec 09, 2023

I thought this fulfilled the brief very well and it certainly brought home the realities of snowfall to someone who rarely experiences it in the south west of England and where life more or less grinds to a temporary halt at the first indication. One really jarring point: snow 'person'? Too woke for me.


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J. D. Lair
04:40 Dec 09, 2023

Never knew blue urine was a thing until now. Lol great story Chelsey!


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