Though I prefer summer, I’ve always loved the rusticity of winter. The first short story I ever wrote was inspired by a school visit from the suitcase lady, a woman from the Missouri Historical Society who brought a wicker basket of pioneer relics and explained how they were used. Despite modern advancements, I found them genius and quaintly wonderful—a foot warmer (metal tin with hot water put beneath your bedding) or stones heated by the fire. As someone who’s always cold, I find it comforting to hear about warming methods.
In my story, Johanna was a pioneer girl cross between Caddie Woodlawn and Laura Ingalls, who wore woolen night bonnets to bed and floor length gowns. She slept in a loft and shared a bed with a sister. They had a bed warmer and drank from tin cups that made satisfying clunking noises when they put them on unfinished wooden tables.
Sadly, Johanna’s father was bitten by a copperhead and the story dissolved as I lost interest after detailing her living situation and pioneer tools. But it was certainly a winter story—one of the few I wrote down. Most I told out loud to no one as I walked home from elementary school in the winter, my face buried in my coat, eager to go home and sit on a heating vent while I watched reruns of The Brady Bunch and waited for my mom to get home from work.