Laura Randall awakened at the sound of sleet pelting the roof. Outside her bedroom window, the bare branches of a dogwood tree tapped against the windowpane and an icy north wind swooshed through the pine trees beyond the yard.
She looked at the clock—3:00 a.m. If the weather forecasters were correct, a foot of snow might fall before the storm ended, making travel dangerous. She wished Chris were home. If the airports closed, it could be days before he could get back.
She lay awake for a while, thinking about the events of the last few months. Chris’s new job offer. Buying this cabin and small acreage another state. Leaving behind family and friends in the city. Moving two weeks before Christmas.
Now it was early January and she was here alone. Chris was away on business. She hardly knew anyone, except for the closest neighbors, Bob and Evelyn Turner. They were a middle-aged couple who lived on a farm a half mile away.
Laura wasn’t sure she could adapt to country life. Sure, these rolling hills were beautiful. The realtor said fall and spring were especially lovely—flowering dogwoods in the spring and a rich array of colors in the fall.
People seemed friendly. The Turner’s brought food the day she and Chris moved in. Maybe when they met more people and became involved in church, she would start to feel more at home. Still, she missed the city life. She shivered and snuggled deeper beneath the down comforter.
Laura awoke the following morning to a blanket of white. Judging by the snow accumulated on the deck, at least four inches had already fallen. She dressed quickly and made her way into the kitchen for a cup of coffee. She had just pressed the brew button on the Keurig when the lights flickered and went out.
“Great! Not even a cup of coffee. And Chris is in a nice hotel in Chicago while I’m here in the wilderness.”
She picked up the phone to call the power company. The line was dead. She tried her cell phone. She hoped to get a strong enough signal, but was unsuccessful.
Laura had never felt so alone. No communication with the outside world—no internet, no phone, no social media, and no electricity.
She sat down on the sofa, put her head in her hands, and cried. “I can’t live like this!”
No one would be traveling in this weather. At least in the city, she had next-door neighbors—even though they weren’t very friendly. Heaven forbid what would happen here in an emergency.
The snow stopped falling in the early afternoon transforming the landscape into a winter wonderland. Laura guessed at least a foot lay on the ground. She walked to the French doors and looked toward the woods behind the house. Two deer stood at the edge of the pond near the woods.
The breathtaking scene brought a measure of comfort. Snow revealed things she hadn’t noticed before. An old tree stump, a little crevice on the side of the hill. A path, probably made by animals, led through the underbrush into the woods.
Around 4:00, Laura heard the sound of a motor outside. “Who can that be?” She hadn’t heard any traffic all day. She went to the window and saw Bob Thompson coming up the long driveway on his tractor.
She hurried to open the door. “Bob! What’s going on?”
“We were concerned about you being here alone. Evelyn tried to call several times, and we figured the phone was out.”
“Yes, I’ve been trying it all day. And my cell phone won’t work either. I’ve tried to reach Chris.”
“Well, that’s why we still have landlines here. I’ll call when I get home to let him know you’re okay. By the way, we called both the phone and power companies. They’ll have people working to restore service soon. And Evelyn sent some homemade soup.”
“Oh, thank you. I can’t believe you risked these icy roads just to check on me.”
“It’s nothing my old tractor can’t handle. Besides, that’s what neighbors do. We look out for one another.”
Laura smiled as Bob drove away. Neighbors—already friends. People in the city didn’t do things like he’d done today.
She looked toward the pond to see a red fox darting into the woods. This land. This beauty. These people. The snow had transformed the landscape. The kindness of friends transformed her attitude.
“I can do this!” She walked back inside the cabin and closed the door. She was home.