April 18: Story Challenge in 99-words

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com. She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

April 18, 2022

Caught in a Fibonacci sequence of never-ending snow, flakes spiral from the sky. The sound of rain earlier in the week promised a break, but soon the water droplets froze. After two days of snow, a blizzard struck. On Saturday, I drove further up the rocky spine of the Keweenaw Peninsula to play board games with my daughter, SIL, and his father at Ghost House Farm.

The snow was nearly white-out conditions. Somewhere, I told myself, the sun is shining.

I had to plow through a snowdrift to park in front of the farm garage. Newly arrived and already stuck. I waded through the snow until I hit the wall. The wall of never-ending snowdrifts that blow across the yard from the direction of Lake Superior and the hopeful frame of a greenhouse. What grows in the snow?

Laughing at my predicament — the wall was impassable and the snowshoe trail to the house too high up for me to clamber — I began to woohoo.

I hollered, “Hellooooooo in the house!” The snow blew my words back at my face.

Inhaling slow and deep, I belted a cattle call that could be heard for miles. “Oooweee!”

Changing reflecting, raising the pitch higher, I used the Indigenous call, “Ooowah!”

Not even the snowbound rooster answered.

I considered crawling up the snow embankment but worried I’d punch through when trying to get to my feet. If no one was answering my calls, I’d be doomed stuck in a snowdrift.

“Aaarooh!” I howled like a wolf and made several “Ar, ar, ar” noises before howling louder.

No goats bleated. No chickens squawked. No one came to the door beyond my reach.

You might wonder why I didn’t call. After all, this is the age of cellular service, even in remote places such as this Great Lakes tundra. Well, in my excitement to go play board games, I left my phone.

I resorted to “Woo-hoo,” which my Granny used to call us into the ranch house for supper. Nothing. Then I played, testing shout, belly-dancing trills, yodels, and the le-le-le-le I learned as an honoring cry from my Anishinaabekwe friends.

No response.

Like a lonely wolf, I felt the need to gather with my group. I returned to assessing the snowbank and kicked a foothold followed by a second higher one. Carefully I climbed the snowbank and felt for the panked snowshoe trail. I didn’t have snowshoes but if I walked slowly and lightly, I could stay above the compressed crust. Within a few minutes, I made it to the point where I had to hop down to the deck.

Inside, the warmth of a woodfire and cooking split pea soup steamed my glasses. The two farm pups greeted me enthusiastically. I’m going to have to teach them to listen for my arrival calls. My daughter hugged me and my SIL raised his eyebrows and said he’d better go snow-blow a path for me. He wasn’t taking the chance his mother-in-law would be snowed in with them.

Peppers and my SIL chopping down the drifted snow.

The kids have been swamped by their plants that were supposed to be in the greenhouse by now. My SIL and his dad have worked all week in snow, on snow, digging out snow, and falling through snow to build out the rest of the greenhouse. They’ve been innovative and captured the challenges in videos. If you follow Ghost House Farm for the stories, they plan to post the latest snow farming adventures.

Every room in the house bursts with potted plants. The snapdragons are two feet tall and budding. The lettuce is perfect for fresh greens and my daughter’s rosemary plants look great. But they will all need to get outside. At least it’s good news for the bees — they will find flowers when the snow ends.

If not, I’m going to take a snow shovel to hunt rocks this summer.

April 18, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about never ending. You can hyphenate never-ending or write an example of a story that never ends. What is endless and why? Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by April 23, 2022. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form. The Collection publishes on the Wednesday following the next Challenge. Rules & Guidelines.
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  4. Please include your byline which is the name or persona you attribute to your writing.
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Submissions are now closed. Find our latest challenge to enter.

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21 Comments

  1. Anne Goodwin is bringing Matilda Windsor home

    We used to shout Yoohoo (but not in snow). Amazing how conditions can leave us so vulnerable mere minutes away from safety. I’ve twice gone astray in deserts and it can be scary. Glad you found shelter.

    • Charli Mills

      Anne, I have a healthy regard for that yard in winter! I can imagine how disconcerting it must have felt when you went astray in the desert. It was fun to think up different ways to shout to get attention from those inside. Yoohoo is similar to my grandmother’s woohoo.

  2. Jules

    Charli –

    Glad you found your way into the sancuary of love and care!! Reminds me when I attempted (by myself) the Appalachian trail(in NJ or NY) by myself when I was barely in double digits. At one point I thought I’d scream for help, but then I heard voices and remembered I shouldn’t talk to strangers!! Evenutally I followed the correctly marked trail back to the campsite the family was staying at. I had started out perhaps mid-day and made it back by dusk. I don’t know how far I went – but that was the time I climbed up a tall pine to the top to try and get some perspective as to where I was. Scary when all you can see is the tops of trees.

    We only had some frost warnings here (quite a bit south from you but not way south where there’s no snow at all).
    Winter is hanging on everywhere… Be well and I’ll be back later… I’ll be back… I’ll be back… 😉

    • Anne Goodwin is bringing Matilda Windsor home

      Glad you got back safely, Jules. I read about a woman who left the path for a toilet break and never made it back. She was found dead in her tent only a short distance from this trail. Scary stuff.

      • Jules

        Anne,

        I can’t imagine being lost in a desert. Though I have vacationed in both Arizona and Florida. Not being able to escape the heat or sun…

        When we are young we think we are invicible – It is interesting to have to adjust to an older aged and realize what the body can’t do anymore. And to be cautious more often than not.

        Yes it is scary that people can just disapear… One time when I was working in a sort of industrial park near an older row home type neighorhood, I went for a walk (in an unfamiliar area). I was approached by an older woman – I think she wanted to ‘recruit’ me for her ‘home’… I never went out again for my lunch break! And that was when I was in my 40’s (at least).

    • Charli Mills

      That’s a scary situation for one barely into double-digits, Jules. I hope the experience boosted your confidence in your ability to find yourself when lost, even if all you could see from your treetop perch were more trees. This long winter is free to go! I’m not seeking summer yet, but I would like some sunshine. Ha! I’m happy you will keep endlessly returning! 😉

      • Jules

        We had some frost warnings last week… good weather for next – but followed by another cold spell.

        Cheers to returns!!

    • Charli Mills

      Cooee! That’s one I’ll be adding to my repertoire of calls, Doug. What an echo in the video you shared!

  3. suespitulnik

    Oh my! I like the four seasons, but 6+ months of winter is a bit much. I’m glad you didn’t get lost in a snowbank. I hope all the plants get to go outside soon.

    • Charli Mills

      The plants hope so, too, Sue! Yes, it’s bit much but I also think of winter as a great time to hibernate to read and write.

  4. denmaniacs4

    I am such a wuss. A scattering of snowflakes and I wilt. And the horror of 2-3 inches of the stuff scares the devil out of me.

    • Charli Mills

      There are moments of sheer snow terror to be had on the Keweenaw, Bill. I get your drift! Oh, I just made a pun before all you punsters beat me to it! 😀

      • denmaniacs4

        It was clearly your drift, Charli…and it was a punishing one…

  5. TanGental

    Not had snow here for what seems like centuries. Given my voice travels about as far as my wit, I’d still be in that yard…. Hope you all thaw soon.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha Geoff! I was thinking how little we get to practice our yells and appreciated the time to catalog all the loud noises I can make. You need to practice, go to a rodeo or encourage/scare someone with le-le-le trills. I’m hoping for a thaw, soon.

  6. Colleen Chesebro: WordCraftPoetry

    On Monday, we had snow here in East Lansing, Charli. Today, it’s windy and cold again. We’ve all been ravenous, the cats included! I look forward to spring. We got that stump ground out yesterday (in the snow) so I should be able to plant some nice flowering bushes out front… maybe, if spring ever gets here. LOL! <3

    • Charli Mills

      I’m laughing, fellow mitten citizen! The lower mitten is in the lee of Lake Michigan and although not as extreme as the rocky spine in the thumb of the upper mitten, you get hammered with snow, too. What a Michgander to grind a stump in a snowstorm! Carry on, spring will arrive with a burst of bulbs! <3

      • Charli Mills

        That’s a beautiful vision to hold onto…while it snows!

  7. Liz H

    Almost forgot to get this posted. Next episode of the serial, “Disappeared 8”.
    A little bit of silliness, in 99 words, no more, no less!!

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