The Winter Water Hazard
By: S.C. Mathisen
“Come on Johnny, let’s go! I want to skate on the old pond today. We’re only here in Millville visiting my grandparents for a week.” Susie said trying to encourage her friend Johnny to hurry into his coat, hat, and mittens.
“I am hurrying, Susie,” Johnny said sounding like he was already out of breath.
He had already put on two extra sweaters, long johns and an extra set of wool socks and was bent over trying to reach the laces of his hi-top insulated winter boots and just barely reaching them. Between the extra layers of clothing and the extra layers of Johnny’s round stomach, the laces were almost out of his reach. But he finally did get them and was now finishing up the final knot on his right boot.
“There, I’ve got the boots laced up. All I need to do now is to put on my hat and scarf and coat and get my mittens on. You can never be too careful out in winter weather. Especially here in upper Minnesota! It’s really cold up here!”
“Great, now let’s go. We want to get out there and get back before it gets dark.” Susie said in eager anticipation.
When Johnny was finally ready, they headed for the back door. Johnny detoured slightly to pick up a handful of oatmeal raisin cookies, wrap them carefully in a napkin and put them in one of his over-large coat pockets.
After going out the door and walking across the wide driveway, they passed the barn and followed a path that took them across the cornfields plowed under after the harvest. The sky was a dull, steely gray and the ground was covered with white frost and. They could see each breath they took. They talked excitedly about how much fun it was going to be to skate on a real frozen pond instead of the ice rink they practiced on back home in Crescent City.
After walking across fields for a time, the path led into what looked like a small bunch of trees.
“I think the pond is just on the other side of these trees,” said Susie.
“Wow, it sure is farther than I thought it would be,” said Johnny as he slowed down to look up and around at all the tall trees.
“Come on Johnny, keep up! It’s starting to snow.”
“I’m coming. I was just noticing how weird it is in here with all these trees covered in snow.”
“Yup, but we should be out of the woods in a couple of minutes if we walk fast.”
“Walk fast, that’s a really good idea. It’s kinda creepy in here. The snow is starting to come down real hard, the sky is getting to be a real dark gray, and it’s getting hard to see.”
Johnny picked up the pace and started walking really fast. He began walking so fast Susie had trouble keeping up with him. The only sound was their feet rapidly crunching in the new fallen snow.
After several minutes of walking, taking different turns to follow what Susie thought was the path, she said with a little quiver in her voice, “Johnny, does it seem like it’s getting darker instead of lighter?”
“Y-y-yes. I was hoping you wouldn’t notice and get scared. Why do you think I’m walking so fast?”
“Maybe we should turn around and go back,” said the quivering voice.
Johnny stopped suddenly and pointed toward his left, “look there’s a clearing over there. Maybe we should go that way.”
Johnny turned to his friend and said, “I thought you knew your way around on this farm. You should be the one giving directions. Are you lost?”
Susie looked around with a puzzled look on her face, “I thought I knew the way. I just don’t remember the woods taking this long to get through. I might be a little confused.”
“Oh great, you’re lost. And if you’re lost I’m lost too. Can you find your way back out of here?”
Trying to sound braver and more confident than she really felt Susie said: “Sure, we just go back the way we came.”
“Right, we took so many twists and turns on the way here, I lost track of where we came from. I bet you did too!”
“I think I know what we need to do.”
“So do I, we need to pray. God know where we are and He can keep us safe.”
Susie smiled broadly, “That’s right Johnnie. He can and He will!”
Johnny began, “Lord, you know where we are and how to get us out of here. Please show us the way out.”
Susie joined in, “Yes Jesus, please help us to find our way out.”
They both said together “Amen!”