Author: Irene Nissen The Write Place
Irene Nissen is a retired teacher who enjoys visiting the cottage with her family. She wrote this story for her grandchildren in order to continue sharing the cottage experience during the long winter months away.
The Cottage in Winter
The cottage sat still and quiet all winter on the edge of the icy lake, snug under a heavy blanket of snow. The world around it lay frozen and silent, except for the wind that whispered through the bare trees, and the occasional bird, or animal visitor that happened to pass by searching for food.
The cottage missed the soothing call of the loons who had migrated south to a warmer place. It missed the busy beavers who, in the summer and fall, had ventured onto the lot to cut down trees to build the lodges that now kept them safe and warm. It missed the mice and squirrels and chipmunks who were now curled up fast asleep in cozy places, away from winter's cold breath. But most of all, it missed Jake and Erika's family who had closed the cottage up in October and gone back to the city until next spring.
Not everyone was gone from the woods that grew on every side, as the cottage was about to discover! A shy moose, whose thick hide and warm coat insulated him against the winter cold, peeked from behind a pine tree. He was hoping to find a quick snack of tasty twigs and bark in the woods near the cottage.
A ruffed grouse thundered out of a clump of thick junipers, maybe frightened by the sound of the moose snacking nearby. This is the same bird that the family had nicknamed the "Dodo bird" in the summer. She was still here, trying to stay warm and find food, while keeping an eye out for her enemy, the hawk.
A jackrabbit came hopping by, searching for some yummy moss to nibble on. Its ears, that had stood up and cooled him in summer, now lay back close to his body for added warmth. Jake and Erika had often seen him sitting on the driveway, still as a statue, hoping they would throw him a juicy carrot, or two.
High in a birch tree, a porcupine was nibbling on some tender bark. In winter it spends most of its time in trees looking for food. Because it is a sloppy eater, the porcupine drops a lot of twigs and buds that provide a welcome snack for deer during deep snows.
A white-tailed deer, who sometimes came by to browse on shrubs near the cottage, appeared out of nowhere. She liked to nibble on the tasty lichens and other fungi that grew in the woods and on the rocks along the cottage driveway. If she was lucky, she might discover a tasty morsel dropped by a sloppy porcupine. Maybe this was one of the deer that Jake and Erika had often spotted as they drove in for a weekend stay.
As the sun went down, and the animals left to seek shelter from the cold night ahead, the cottage snuggled down in its bed of snow to dream of spring when the family would return to go fishing in the lake with dad, gather wildflowers for mom, paint rocks on the deck, feed Cheerios to the chipmunk, barbecue rainbow trout for dinner and toast marshmallows and wieners over the bonfire under the stars, and the cottage would feel the warmth of family love and laughter once again.
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