Blizzard 2015: One book fan recalls literary winters

The Blizzard of 2015 would be only too familiar to Laura Ingalls Wilder and Jo March.

Jessica Hill/AP
A man clears a path with a snowblower during a snowstorm in Windsor Locks, Conn.

While snowfall fell short of predictions in some areas of the Northeast, the blizzard forecasts and snow currently blanketing the ground in Boston put this literary fan in mind of some favorite winter scenes in books.

Any Laura Ingalls Wilder fan can tell you about the cold weather conditions experienced by the Ingalls family in the “Little House on the Prairie” series written by Wilder. In “Little House in the Big Woods,” the first in Ingalls’ series based on her childhood, the Ingalls family is living in Wisconsin. The book tells how the Ingalls family eats maple sugar during the winter when “sugar snow” comes. In the book “On the Banks of Plum Creek,” a later installment, Ingalls’ father, known as Pa, gets stuck in a snowstorm for days and finally makes it home after having survived on the candy he’d bought for Christmas. He had gone to get oysters. “"I ate up the oyster crackers, and I ate up the Christmas candy, but by jinks," Pa says, "I brought the oysters home!”

Another story set in the 19th century includes dangerous winter conditions. In Louisa May Alcott’s novel “Little Women,” sisters Jo (short for Josephine) and Amy argue after Jo refuses to allow Amy to accompany her to the theater and Amy burns up Jo’s manuscript in protest. Jo refuses to speak to Amy and goes skating with their neighbor Laurie. Laurie warns Jo of thin ice and Jo, still angry, presumes Amy heard the information, too. When Amy falls through the ice, Laurie and Jo save her and Jo forgets her anger. After they get Amy home, Jo looks “remorsefully at the golden head, which might have been swept away from her sight forever under the treacherous ice.”

Meanwhile, in C.S. Lewis’s “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” a more imaginary land is blanketed in snow. When the Pevensie children encounter the fantasy land of Narnia, it has been placed under a curse by the White Witch, who is ruling over the land. “It's she that makes it always winter,” a Faun whom the youngest Pevensie, Lucy, meets. “Always winter and never Christmas; think of that!” (Residents of the Northeast can certainly sympathize with the horror of this thought.)

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