Weather plays a major role in our lives and our stories.

When I awoke this morning, I discovered that winter had come to East Texas and settled in my front yard.

I have long believed weather can become a major character in some novels. Weather saves or condemns them all.

Snow had fallen sometime during the night.

It came in silence.

I knew it was cold when I went to bed.

I didn’t know it would snow.

The ice would skirt around us, the radar map said.

The wintry mix would move north.

We would awake to winter, perhaps.

But someone else would battle the slush.

I awoke and glanced out the window.

The ground was white.

Limbs were bent and laced with icicles.

The sky was the color of dirty laundry.

The snow would come again before I slept again.

Those of you who live north in the frozen tundra only scoff.

This isn’t snow, you say.

This is only a couple of inches of white powder.

In East Texas, we are locked in by the snow.

We are one flake away from the end of the world.

The Ice Age is upon us.

No one is going anywhere.

The streets are skating rinks.

All we can do is hang on until it melts.

Temperatures have hit sixteen degrees.

It won’t melt soon.

I have long believed that weather can become a major character in some novels.

Characters react one way when they’re cold.

They react another when drought has dried the landscape around them.

They pray for rain.

They pray for the rain to stop.

Weather saves or condemns them all.

In my third Ambrose Lincoln thriller, Night Side of Dark, winter had crept into a war-torn land.

I wrote:

The snow had ceased to fall sometime after midnight, and the snow on the sidewalks had become little more than mounds and sheets of ice. A sharp wind was fighting its way out of the alleys and down the street.

The soldiers were wearing long woolen coats.

The thin man was clad only in his shirt and trousers.

He was walking barefoot in the snow, his head held high, a recalcitrant smile playing on his face. There was no shiver in his shoulders. The Germans could kill him. They would not break him.

The thin man must have known it would end someday.

He may have dreaded it.

He had not feared it.

Lincoln could see the stubborn defiance embedded in his eyes.

War is deadly.

It’s even worse when characters are gripped and encased inside the winds of winter.

Faces hurt.

Hands are numb.

Every step brings misery.

Cold has become a slow and painful way to say goodbye.

I wrote;

The distant sounds of rifle fire had reached the far edge of the river by the time Captain Dunaway Walker drove slowly out of the barn and into the fog. He turned south down an old country lane that would take him to a paved road which forked hard to the left and wound its way through the farmlands toward Krakow.

The gunfire was close enough to shatter the rear window, but the day was cold, and sound carried. Lincoln was not concerned. The rifles were behind him, carried by men walking through snow. Every step was becoming more difficult for them to make.

Snow was the great equalizer between gunmen and the hunted. They would not get far. They certainly had no desire to swim a chilled river. By now, the freezing ice had made it virtually impassable.

Besides, they had a far more important job to do than chase the fading remnants of a shadow into a dark place where only a shadow dared go.

They had to bury a lieutenant with a ruddy face.

The ground was hard.

It was cold.

He imagined that some funeral detail would decide to toss his carcass in the river, file a report about a false grave just beyond the eastern perimeter of town, and wait for orders to move on or wait for the thaw.

Their war was over.

It died at the bottom of a river.

Winter has come to East Texas.

For a moment, it is magical.

Children throw snowballs in the street.

A snowman appears on a corner lot.

Dogs romp.

Birds hang like spangles in the trees.

I step outside.

I didn’t stay outside long.

Like the characters in my novel, I don’t move on.

I am content to wait for the thaw.

Weather may indeed by a character.

For me, cold is the villain.

Please click HERE to find Night Side of Dark on Amazon.

 

, , , , , , , , ,

  • April Coker

    Love it, Caleb. I just love the way you write. So descriptive and simple yet forceful. Stay warm.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Thanks for your kind comments, April. The cold has tracked me down, and the logs on the fireplace only laugh at me, and my dog wants to go on walks every ten minutes. It’s winter until tomorrow.

  • Handy way to convey tone: the same white weather can be described as ‘the true lowest circle of Hell’ or ‘Christmas card perfect.’ Information + attitude. Make the white stuff do dual duty.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Well said, Alicia. Snow makes a great character. My college English Professor said that snow “symbolized death,” and maybe it does.

Related Posts