Caroline’s Winter Fun

Do you like winter? Caroline Abbott does. I do too, which made the third book of the Caroline series, A Surprise For Caroline, a lot of fun to write.

A Surprise For Caroline by Kathleen Ernst

Isn’t this cover gorgeous?  I love the way illustrator Robert Papp captured the winter landscape.

When the book opens, Caroline is facing a new challenge. Two other girls are staying in the Abbott home: Lydia, Caroline’s cousin; and Rhonda, the daughter of an army officer stationed in Sackets Harbor. Caroline has no trouble getting along with either girl, but when all three of them are together, things get tricky.

Caroline Abbott display, American Girl Store - Chicago

Caroline’s skates would have looked much like these exhibited at the American Girl store in Chicago.

Caroline dearly loves to skate, especially the feeling of gliding effortlessly over the ice. She also has a cherished memory of skating by moonlight with her papa.

Lots of people in the 1800s skated at night if the moon was full and the sky was clear.

Lots of people in the 1800s skated at night if the moon was full and the sky was clear.  (Source unknown)

Unfortunately, Rhonda does not enjoy skating. Caroline struggles to find an outdoor game all three girls can enjoy.

Can you imagine ice skating in a long skirt, and a wool cape instead of a down-filled parka?  This painting depicts a scene about 50 years after my story,  but it reminds me of  Caroline and her friends.  (Winslow Homer)

Can you imagine ice skating in a long skirt, and a wool cape instead of a down-filled parka? This depicts a scene about 50 years after my story, but it reminds me of Caroline and her friends. (Winslow Homer)

Winter in the Canada-U.S. border region during the War of 1812 could be quite challenging. In February, 1813, one British officer wrote in his diary about visiting sentries on a winter night: “It was freezing very hard, the Thermometer somewhere like 30 degrees below zero.  …The most distant sentry was placed near a wood which was our most vulnerable point from the United States—if a moose could have travelled in such intolerable cold.”

The officer thought he caught one of the sentries drunk—quite a serious offense in war-time! He later concluded, however, that the poor sentry had not been drinking; instead he was stumbling and slurring his words because of the severe cold. (Merry Hearts Make Light Days:  The War of 1812 Journal of Lieutenant John Le Couteur, 104th Foot, edited by Donald E. Graves.)

I don’t imagine that Caroline would want to play outside for very long if the temperature was 30 degrees below zero. Still, kids in 1812 liked to play as much as kids today do! Whenever time and conditions permitted, children could be found outside skating, sledding, or making up their own amusements.

currier_n_ives_skating

If you look closely, you can see several different cold weather activities.  (Currier & Ives)

What winter fun do you enjoy?

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4 Responses to “Caroline’s Winter Fun”

  1. Heather Says:

    We lived near both a pond and steep hill, so winter afternoons often found my sisters and I on the ice or sledding down the hill. Sadly, I haven’t done either since college.

    One friend of mine has never been sledding, though she grew up in Wisconsin same as we did, and we often got together when she visited an aunt that lived across from us. How she never went sledding with us is anyone’s guess! She has told me that one of her fondest memories was the year her father flooded their front yard so she and her brother had their own private ice rink.

  2. Kathleen Ernst Says:

    I never got the hang of ice skating, but I loved to sled. I did as a child on small slopes. Then I went to college in West Virginia and learned about sledding on tall, steep hills. The climb back to the top was quite a trudge, but I do remember flying down!

  3. Arletta Dawdy's Blog Says:

    Snowball fights, sledding and building snowmen marked my first winter years in NJ. Now, I have to travel to snow tho’ it was below freezing here in NoCA a lot this winter. In the mountains, I watch the skiers, butterflies and snowmen from the lodge, hot toddy in hand.

  4. Kathleen Ernst Says:

    A mountain lodge with hot toddy in hand sounds good to me, Arletta!

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