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Winter in Maine was something akin to a Christmas card; the kind that featured snowy panoramas that never reflected the full power of the weather, warmly lit houses, a timeless horse drawn sleigh in the street out front, frosty edges highlighted in fine glitter, printed on slick paper and sold at high end gift shops for obscene prices. Scott was familiar enough with those images, given that his family received their fair share of cards every December, but didn't pay them much mind. It was all part of the posturing that came with the holiday that seemed like too much wasted effort.

And while it was akin, there was something decidedly different and more interesting about the reality. The paintings didn't include details like the muddy slush at the side of the road or the vehicles that got stuck in it. There was more of a feeling of “community” when the neighbors came out to dig out a trapped vehicles than the guests in their Victorian finest arriving magically unaffected by the weather without a transporter in sight.

The smell, too, wasn't like anything imagined by the artists. A crisp mix of frost and ocean air, both far removed from the scented candles bearing the same names. It was especially nice at the swing bridge, where the two combined with the slightly reassuring, metallic smell of the bridge.

“I think this is decent packing snow,” Corry said behind Scott. The taller man raised his left foot and swung it forward, kicking up several large clumps of snow. They stuck together until they shattered against a road. “Very decent packing snow,” he added. “That's when the snow is warm enough tha--”

“I know what packing snow is,” Scott interrupted, looking over the scene of downtown South Bristol again. With the snow and icicles framing the houses along the street, it was quite quaint in a nice, relaxing way. “I grew up with it and cousins. I know what happens when the tw--”

Scott was cut off as a lump of something hard and cold whizzed by his right ear. He looked over his shoulder, only to find Corry laughing behind him. Glancing back in front of him, quickly, Scott noticed that oddly enough, the snowball looked like it had remained mostly intact when hit the ground.

“You might know about it, but you still let your guard down,” Corry said. Scott could hear the grin in his voice.

“Aye, but it seems that ye fell asleep in physics class,” Scott commented, reaching over to grab Corry's snowball. It was packed firmly in spots, but not uniformly across the surface. Certain points, the ones that didn't break away on impact, were packed almost to the point where they would pass for ice. Not too unusual for warmer packing snow, although it required some force on the part of the maker. The other sides of the snowball crumbled away at his touch. Not quite powder snow, but definitely not packed properly.

The result was an incredibly unbalanced snowball, one that wouldn't be able to hit a target unless the tosser had a huge amount of dumb luck.

“What do you mean?” Corry tilted his head, completely unaware of this abomination of snowballs he just gave birth to. He probably just grabbed the snow on a whim, tossed it together and lobbed it off.

Scott held up the snowball. “Clearly, ye weren't aiming for it to miss.”

Corry shrugged and brushed it off. “The wind just got in the way.”

“If the wind got in the way, I'd say this would be more likely to hit the target than miss it outright,” Scott explained. “On its own, this snowball can't be aimed! There's no sense of balance.”

Corry scooped up another pile of snow. “What do you mean, 'sense of balance'? It's a snowball. You're not supposed to have a detailed sense of balance. You just pick up the snow, toss it, and get away far enough that you can quickly grab another while staying out of range.”

“Quality, not quantity. You have to remember that from your first class of... anything.” Scott said, bending over and scooping up a small pile of snow himself. “Just because you can make piles of snowballs in the same amount of time as I can make one nice one doesn't mean ye should make as many as possible.” He carefully packed the snow, gently, into a small sphere shape that he refined again with his hands. The resulting snowball was lovingly crafted into a light but firm ball, totally at odds with the misshapen lump in Corry's hand.

The nearest and safest target, being without windows or glass in general, was a streetlight. Scott pointed across the road at it.

“See that? That's our target. On the count of three, see if you can hit it,” Scott said, readying the snowball in his right hand. Corry, clearly not wanting to be one-upped, followed suit.

“3... 2.... 1...”

Scott tossed the snowball, taking into account the natural arc of the throw in his aim. It flew true, smacking the side of the streetlight with a satisfying thud.

Corry appeared to rely more on pure force, swinging hard to the point that his whole body jolted forward, almost causing him to fall over into the snow. The snowball flew straight for mere seconds before wobbling off course and crashing onto the road. It didn't come close to the light.

“Aye, and that's why ye need to perfectly balance your snowballs,” Scott explained with a smile. “Not really less is more, but quality over quantity.” He scooped up another pile of snow and mindlessly started sculpting another snowball.

“Lucky shot,” Corry said with a shrug. “Snowball fights must have been lots of fun with you stopping the fight and taking ten minutes to carefully make each snowball to your perfect specifications. The fights must have lasted for hours on end. It's all about living in the moment!”

As Corry turned to walk back down the road, Scott launched the snowball at him, smacking the taller man in the back, right between the shoulders.


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