Her middle knuckle bled as she texted. Winter steals drink from the skin. Dandruff is overdone. These calloused, cracked appendages are the real problem.
Blythe turned her phone upside down and laid it beside her bed.
She did not want to know when Daniel might respond. It would probably be too late by her standards.
Skippy McGee, her greyish pug with the splash of white in his tail, was overdue for his trip to the stop sign.
“I’m glad you are patient, Skip. It is just plain too cold for our usual two miles.”
Blythe reached down and scratched Skip’s underbelly. He thanked her with a tender nose touch.
“You understand. I know you do. You would rather curl up in a blanket hopefully next to me. A girl needs someone to cuddle with.”
Before opening the front door, Blythe layered earmuffs over her ski hat and slipped gloves beneath her wool mittens. For just one half of a moment, she held the sachet that was tucked inside last year’s Valentine card.
“Here we go, Skippy McGee, into the wild ten below! Some day, if Daniel ever comes to his senses, we might be livin’ in a more moderate climate. You would think, if he had any warmth in his heart, he would whisk us away out of this sunless valley and plop us on his North Carolina front porch where cool means a gentle breeze. Yeah, cool could work. This cold sure traps your muscles. The more stiff you stand, the warmer you will be. That may be a myth, but I believe it works for me.”
Each step made a sound, a scratchy, crackly, break. That was the iced-covered snow. Blythe remembered she bought salt at the store.
Looking ahead, she saw a clearing, sprouts of green life. Hurrying Skippy along, Blythe forged ahead.
“Someone must have dumped one of those 20 pound bags of Ice Melt over here. Why here?”
“Ahem, uh miss?”
At the sound of a male voice, Skippy peeked and quickly decided it was best to hunker behind Blythe’s right boot. Almost tripping, she finally got turned around. She looked up at this gray-haired lumberjack.
“Oh I didn’t see you there. I am so sorry.”
“How could you have seen me? That pup of yours had you all twisted up as he ran for cover.”
The man chuckled, a deep, throaty laugh. If Blythe were honest, she wanted to follow Skippy McGee into hiding.
Sporting bright orange hunting pants and an oversized camo coat, the man took a step toward her.
“Oh my look at the time, better get home to that casserole in the oven.” Blythe doesn’t lie well.
Without hesitation, he said, “You can’t see any watch under those life size mittens.”
Blythe noticed beads of sweat nestled in her armpits. This can’t be happening. Why me?
“No need to be nervous young lady. Just passin’ through. It was good to see you … hadn’t seen anyone in last 100 miles or so.”
Blythe’s ears skipped over the miles. Now on the verge of panic, she scooped her best friend up under her sweating arm and made a beeline for her home.
What if he follows me? What if he wants to rape me?
As her feet glided over the ice, Blythe had a thought that was not her own. It cut through the fear, halted the anxious storm brewing in her mind.
Salt is not just for ice
As Blythe slowed her feet, she heard the cracking of ice behind her.
“Young lady, I don’t mean you no harm. Just hiking that Appalachian Trail and needed to talk with another human for few.”
Standing still, she prepared herself to be face-to-face, well more like staring at his coat, as soon as she turned around. Skippy tensed his little round body and let out a pathetic whine. Nonetheless, Blythe did what her God wanted her to do.
“My sincere apologies. Shall I call you sir?”
“No ma’am. Not sir. Just call me Bud. And no need to say sorry. You probably did the right thing if you judge by the world’s standards. Hey, where can I find an all-American type place to have dinner tonight? I figure I will rent a room here in this little town.”
Amazed at his openness, humbled by his kindness, Blythe moved her mouth. God’s words came out.
“Uh, Bud, my name is Blythe and this is Skippy McGee, or Skip for short. Would you like to come over for dinner? I have macaroni and cheese in the oven. Is that American enough for you, I mean I would say it is but not sure if you were searching for more like a steak and potatoes thing.”
“Miss Blythe, that sounds heavenly and fits right into the budget for this trip.” With that, Bud started walking.
Blythe held Skip tight yet was overwhelmed with peace. Her muscles were released from their stiffness prison. She walked with ease as if Jesus Himself was carrying her, and Skip. Her mind was cleansed of worry about Daniel.
There in the ice and snow of ten below, Blythe surrendered all.
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot (Matthew 5:13).
It is currently snowing in PA, falling upon areas of stubborn ice. Today’s temps were about 20 degrees. Who ever knows whom God will put in our paths? Only God. Our pastor used the word providence today when talking about God’s orchestration. I usually use the word sovereignty, but both mean the same. Our gracious, all-knowing Father connects us with others in His perfect timing. I pray this story musters up courage in your souls to be more open to His providential meetings, or divine appointments. I praise His name for lining things up for me this past week, those things for which I am aware and also unaware.
Thank you to all followers here. May God bless each of you this evening.
In Christ’s love,
P.S. All photos are from Pixabay.com.