A Fine Doggie Day: A Carding Chronicle

Winter storms always bring the possibility of school closings in deference to the bad-for-driving weather.

Of course, everyone has an individual reaction to these joyous and spontaneous holidays.

The snow is piling up. Let’s hover over Carding, Vermont for a little while, shall we?

Welcome to Carding, Vermont where life always includes a dash of the unexpected. If you haven’t already, don’t forget to subscribe to the Chronicle by clicking the link on this page. That way, you’ll never miss a story.


1:02 a.m.
Edie Wolfe raised her head from her pillow, trying to account for the strange hissing sound drifting in and out of her hearing range. It took a minute but then she realized that its intensity rose and fell with the wind.

“Great,” she muttered as she burrowed deeper under her quilt. “Wintry mix. Everyone’s favorite.”

3:17 a.m.
“Frank, what are you doing up?” Norrie Hitchcock called to her husband.

“Shhh, it’s all right,” he whispered from his post by a window. “I’m just checking road conditions one more time before I call off school.”

His wife sat up, squinting in the light of their digital clock. “Why aren’t you online looking at the VTrans report? What’s out the window?”

“Without the leaves on the trees, I can see the headlights moving along the interstate.” Frank leaned forward. “There’s hardly anybody out, and the ones I do see are moving like snails.” He picked up his phone. “We have only three snow days left before I have to add extra days at the end of the year so I just want to be sure.”

Norrie chuckled. “The kids in your daughter’s class have figured out that you’re the new superintendent and the guy who makes snow days happen. They believe that you slide our cat across the porch to see if she can stand up or not, and if she can’t, you call a snow day.”

Frank chuckled. “Really? Somehow, I can’t see Gracie letting me do that to her.” He pushed the send button on his email. “There, now all the radio stations know, the town manager, the principals, everyone. Now we can go back to bed.”

4:31 a.m.
“Whoo. I wish someone would figure out how to pre-heat these things,” Melvin Goode said as he hoisted himself into the seat of a town plow truck. He reached for the cup of coffee held by his assistant. “Seems like I always spend the first hour on the road freezing my butt off.”

“Maybe we should invest in some of those heating pads that you warm up in a microwave,” Bruce Elliott said. “My wife got a couple from Cooper’s store, and we’ve been using them in the car. They work great.”

Melvin stared at him for a minute. Even though he used the garage’s microwave to make popcorn and heat coffee, he still didn’t quite trust anything digital. “Huh, you don’t say. Bring me one. If they work, I’ll ask for tush warmers in my next budget. That ought to go over good at town meeting. Ha!”

6:47 a.m.
Edie listened to the murmur of news on Vermont Public Radio while she stirred cranberries into her oatmeal. Ever since the 2016 election, she’d taken to draping a dish towel over her radio while the national news was on then whipping it off to catch the weather and local news.

She looked at her new calendar, the one her grandchildren had made with pictures from her garden and of her beloved Nearly. January 20th, Inauguration Day, was circled in bright red. Maybe she’d start listening to the news again on that day.

“Censorship does have its place,” she told her dog, reaching down to knead the hard-to-reach places behind Nearly’s ears. “Not listening is how I’ve retained my last bits of sanity.”

Nearly sighed with contentment then shook himself awake so he could figure out where he wanted to take his first nap of the day.He finally decided on the deep window sill in the kitchen, the one that his human kept a pillow on for his convenience. (Edie was so thoughtful that way.)

He could see the back door and driveway from this vantage point, as well as one of the many bird feeders studded around the yard. He sighed as he watched the silent snow cover his private landscape. It was going to be a long but satisfying doggie day.

Sonja Hakala lives on a river in Vermont and is the author of the Carding, Vermont novels and an upcoming mystery, The Burnt Fool.

The Carding, Vermont novels, in order of appearance:

The Road Unsalted

Thieves of Fire

The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life

Light in Water, Dancing

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