Recap: Ilan, Aharon’s cousin, is visiting. He’s waiting for his kallah to come to Vermont. They are planning a wedding for March 22. Ilan’s kallah will be traveling by train to Vermont and should be arriving the next day.
On Sunday morning, Ilan was pacing around.
“I’m worried about the weather. The sky’s clouding. Maybe she should have stayed in New York. What if it snows?”
I was putting away my t’filin. “We get snow all the time in Vermont, but it’s been really mild this winter, with hardly any snow and its already March. I’m sure there’s no reason to worry about that.”
Aunt Mimi came into the room with a pile of socks. “You’re like a horse biting at the bit. Why don’t you go for a ride with Aharon after you help him with the chores?”
Uncle Nathan stepped inside, waving a paper. “I just got a telegraph with the weather for today and tomorrow. Here’s the report: “Fresh to brisk winds, with rain, will prevail, followed on Monday by colder, brisk westerly winds and fair weather throughout the Atlantic states…”
Ilan smiled. “Thanks for letting me know. Baruch Hashem, it sounds like good weather for traveling.”
That day in the barn, the animals were skittery. “Whoa, Lacy!” I yelled. The cow kept snorting and moving away. I’d never had so much trouble milking her.
“Yeah, Jasmine too. Look at her moving and stamping her hooves.” Ilan pointed at the black and white cow.
“I don’t know what’s with them today.”
The horses were acting skittery, too. I had trouble getting the saddle on the mustang horse I usually rode. It kept snorting and moving back and forth. When I finally had him saddled, and Ilan was mounting the Clydesdale horse, suddenly rain poured from the sky. “Maybe it’ll let up soon?” Ilan said.
I shook my head. “If its rainin’ this hard, we best scrap the horseback ride.”
We moved the horses back into the barn and I closed the door.
We ran back to the house, holding our jackets over our heads to try to keep dry.
Ilan pulled off his muddy boots. “Her train is leaving late this afternoon. I hope the rain lets up.”
“It will eventually. Let’s learn,” I suggested.
The afternoon flew by as we learned together. It was around five that the wind picked up and was howling outside. Uncle Nathan returned from his calls. He was soaked. “The rain is heavy with that strong wind. I could use your help to tie down the barn door.”
We followed him outside into the wind and sleet. I shivered and buttoned my coat to the top.
Ilan was very quiet, as we hammered the bars on the barn to keep the door shut.
As we ran back to the house, the heavy rain drenched us.
Chezky and Shmuel were sitting by the window, watching the wind whipping tree branches. “It sounds like wolves howling,” Chezky said.
We stood by the fire to dry. When I plopped down on a chair, Shmuel scooted into my lap. “Is it going to snow?” he asked.
Uncle Nathan was helping Aunt Mimi with the stove. “No, the weather is supposed to clear up.”
Ilan stared out the window.
“Tell us about your kallah,” I said, hoping to distract him from his worries.
“She’s a really special person. She took care of her whole family when they had yellow fever. She nursed them back to health. She’s smart and she’s great at everything. She does needlepoint and she plays the piano.”
“She sounds very accomplished,” I said.
She worked hard and saved up money for her wedding trousseau. Her family are hard-working but money is tight with eleven children. She wrote me she’ll be wearing a Eugenie hat with a red feather, so I’ll be able to spot her right away at the train station. She saved up a long time for that.”
Just then, we heard a tree snap and crash in the yard.
“That’s a mighty wind,” Uncle Nathan exclaimed as he stared outside.
Ilan was pale. “Do you think they’ll cancel the trains if it’s dangerous?”
“It’s not dangerous and they will cancel if they need to. Now, no worries. Hashem is in charge.”
The train was due in at 10 p.m. and Ilan and I headed out to the barn to hitch up the wagon to go meet his kallah at the train station. That’s exactly when the temperatures dropped to freezing and suddenly the sleet had turned to ice. Ilan and I braced ourselves against the wind.
We both kept slipping and sliding on the ice. Uncle Nathan came after us. “You best wait a bit. It’s too treacherous right now to take the wagon out.”
Ilan’s whole body sagged with worry. “What about Chaya Feiga? She’ll be frightened. I have to go fetch her.”
Uncle Nathan yelled over the screeching wind. “The train will stop and wait out the storm. I’m sure it won’t be coming in tonight in this.”
If only his prediction had come true…
To be continued…
By Susie Garber