Jodi needed more badges. She already had her Knots, her Woodcraft, her Homemaker and her Sewing badges. But that wasn’t enough. The other girls in her troop had so many badges that their sleeves were overflowing. She just had to catch up! But how?
Looking out her window at the snow-covered back yard on McLynn Avenue in Montreal, she suddenly realized that she could do a 2-fer. She could get her Winter Survival Crafts badge and her Hiking badge all in one, simply by tramping through the woods on Mount Royal and having a cookout in the snow. Come to think of it, she could earn her Orienteering badge at the same time. And, if she could convince her kid sister to come along, she might even wangle her Baby Sitting badge. A 4-fer! Not bad for a single Saturday outing.
Fortunately, eight-year old Babs was so stunned to be invited to share an adventure with her 'big sister' that she didn’t think of objecting to being dragged through the woods on a cold winter day. Jodi proposed her plan to her troop leader, Captain Maude, who agreed to the ambitious agenda, and arranged to meet the girls at the scenic overlook at 3:00 the following Saturday, to formally attest to Jodi's accomplishments.
Saturday morning, Mom filled a large thermos with hot cocoa, which Jodi fitted into her knapsack beside the packages of hot dogs, buns, chips, condiments, matches and aluminum foil. Jodi's Dad dropped the girls off at their starting point, and the adventure began. The hiking route ran along a well-marked winding path from Beaver Lake, which was halfway up the mountain, through an open field and into the woods. It took only a half hour before the whining started. “Jodi, I’m cold,” she heard from Babs, who was dragging along behind her. “And I gotta pee.”
It was a short detour to the public restrooms, where Babs took a minute to undo her snowsuit, two minutes to take care of business, and ten minutes to suit back up. “C’mon, Sis,” Jodi urged. “We’re behind schedule. We need to be at the top of the hill in an hour so that we can have our picnic before Captain Maude gets there.”
“I’m going as fast as I can. This snow is so deep, an' it’s getting inside my boots.” Jodi could hear her sister’s tears close to the surface. “Just try to walk where I’ve walked,” she suggested, not unkindly, as she turned around to see poor Babs struggling through thigh-deep snow. “If you put your feet where mine were, you won’t sink in so far.”
“But I’m COLD!”
“You’ll get warm as soon as we start walking up that hill.” Jodi pointed ahead at the path, that was starting to climb into the woods.
“I’ll never make it. I want to go home NOW! I WANT MOMMY!” Babs cried, her streaming tears freezing into miniature stalactites as they drooled down her red cheeks.
“Mom and Dad are meeting us at the top of the hill - at the scenic overlook - along with Captain Maude,” Jodi assured her, asking herself whether this 4-fer had been such a good idea after all. “Let’s stop a couple of minutes and have some cocoa - it’ll warm you up.”
Mollified by the cocoa and the few minutes rest, Babs fell back into line behind Jodi. After what seemed like hours to the eight-year old, they reached the hilltop. “Now for our campfire,” Jodi said, as opened her knapsack and reached inside.
“But, there’s snow all over the place. How’re you gonna make a fire in the snow? I’m hungry an' I’m cold an' you can’t make a fire in the snow. You were fooling me about the fire. I’m gonna tell Mommy on you. You made me come all this way and there’s no fire to cook the hot dogs and I WANNA GO HOME NOW!”
“Oh, shush,” Jodi exclaimed, more than a little exasperated, a piece of aluminum foil and box of matches in her hands. "Let's gather some sticks. I’ll make a fire. You’ll see!”
Still grumbling, Babs helped Jodi gather wood. Carefully, Jodi unfolded a piece of aluminum foil and placed it on top of the snow. Then she removed a sheet of newspaper from her knapsack, crumbled it and placed it on the foil. She used some of the small twigs to build a tepee around the ball of newspaper, and built up small log walls around the tepee.
“What are you doing?” Babs asked, intrigued in spite of herself. “You said you were making a fire, but that looks like doll houses made out of sticks.”
“Just watch and learn,” Jodi proclaimed in her smuggest ‘big sister’ tone, as she struck a match and held the flame to the paper.
The crumbled newspaper caught and sent its flames through the tepee, setting fire to the small sticks. As the tepee began to burn, Jodi carefully pushed the log walls closer to the flames, feeding the fire with larger and larger pieces of wood. Soon, the fire was hot enough to dry Babs’ tears and to burn the hot dogs to a crisp - the best way to eat hot dogs on a cold winter day.
“Did you girls have a good time?”
Jodi and Babs turned to see Mom and Dad, with Captain Maude standing beside them. “Oh, yes,” Babs replied breathlessly. “This was fun. Can we do it again tomorrow?”
2013© Phyllis Entis. All rights reserved.
A Note of Explanation: The prompt for this story was a winter experience.