January 1: I have begun. The hardest part is starting. The second hardest part is continuing. At least I have the starting part completed, and, as some friends suggested, I jumped into the middle of a story. More precisely, this is an account of my first experience with trying to find my way home in blizzard conditions, and I've left out the beginning (which will be added later for the book, though not here). My first 300 (455, actually) words:
The cold was relentless and inescapable. Down in the village, I had been pelted with freezing rain while we struggled to get the cables on the truck. (The experience, if you've never had the pleasure, is like having slush sprayed on you from a fire hose.) Even though my heavy rain jacket had warded off most of the moisture, my jeans were damp, and there was no insulation between the freezing denim and my legs. Ordinarily, the situation would have been uncomfortable but bearable. Now, with the winds blowing thirty miles per hour, the chill pushed deep into my bones, and ice crystals stung my eyes and face.
At least I'd had the presence of mind to ask Catherine for a hat. The beanie she'd given me was warm and big enough to cover my ears. By pure luck and an attempt at fashion, I wore a long, thick scarf that had been crocheted lovingly for me by a friend. I wrapped it around my face, slid my backpack onto my shoulders, locked the truck and began the half mile walk up to the cabin.
I had never experienced such absolute silence. The soft blanket of snow that covered the road kept me from hearing even my own footfalls. There was no soughing of wind through the soggy and heavily laden branches. No bird call punctuated the air, not a single sound of life anywhere.
With the sun already gone behind the western ridge, the deepening dusk pushed me to walk as quickly as I could. Some lights were shining at Snow Crest Inn, but as I turned up our private road, the lights were lost in the thick foliage. I focused my attention on my feet so I wouldn't slip on the steep road. One quarter mile uphill and I'd be home. The folds of yard covering my face were covered in ice and snow. I kept my head down and trudged on.
A light came into view, and I thought I must have reached the Walker's cabin. I looked up to get my bearings so that I'd be sure to follow the sweep of the road to the left. My heart began to pound as I realized the cabin up ahead was not the Walker's. It wasn't familiar at all. Somehow, in watching my feet and not checking for landmarks, I had wandered off the road. In that moment, I was completely disoriented. I had no idea where I was, and it was getting darker by the moment. The fear-induced adrenaline coursing through my veins made my pulse race, and I gasped for breath in the thin air as I fought down instinctive panic and slowly began to retrace my footsteps.