Winter Palaces and Ice Ballerinas

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
November/December 2003

By Delia Rainey, Illustrated by Liza Nikitin

It snowed last night, first it came down softly, then hard. My father was watching the news this morning, and told me that my school was cancelled because of the slick ice on the roads. My mother said that Jack Frost had done a good job last night. I could tell he did too. The windows had enough frost on them that I could write my name with my warm pink finger, melting the frost. I found this so amusing that soon most of the windows in the house had my name written all over them.

When my father saw me still inside, he sent me out to shovel the driveway and scrape the car’s windows. I whined and complained, but my father does have a way with persuading me to do things. So I put on my mittens, zipped up my coat, pulled over my earmuffs, gripped the snow shovel, and made my way outside. A cold chill made its way up my nose and my cheeks, turning them cherry red.

Before I started shoveling, I looked around me. Everything looked like a winter palace. The kind of palace you’d think the Snow Queen would have lived in. Forgetting about the chore my father had sent me to do, I dropped the shovel and walked into the winter scene. The naked trees and evergreens had snow stacked on top of their branches. Also, if I hadn’t counted wrong, I only saw one spear of grass coming up from the snow. There were squirrel and rabbit footprints in the white blanket, leading to a tree or burrow. Every one of the tiny details outside was like magic to me. Pure magic. The icicles on the roof, the way the wind would blow snow off tree branches, even my own boot prints, printed in the snow.

I felt like I was the Snow Queen in the winter palace, and the chubby robin that was trying to get warm on a tree branch was the Snow King.

winter palaces and ice ballerinas snow queen

I felt like I was the Snow Queen in the winter palace

“Snow King,” I told the robin. “Come down and play with me.” Frightened by the sound of my voice, the Snow King flew off the branch, although it was hard for him to do this because of all the weight he put on for the winter coldness. As the snowflakes fell, they looked like graceful ballerina dancers, twirling and floating. I stuck out my tongue and a ballerina landed on it. The little ballerina snowflake tasted like frozen water only it had more texture to it. I turned around in circles with my tongue sticking out, catching ballerinas.

At the corner of my eye, I saw all of the snow, blanketed on the driveway of my house. At that moment, I remembered the task I was sent to do. But, I didn’t want to leave my winter palace. So I pretended not to remember the driveway, and continued to watch ballerinas dance through the sky. Then, to my surprise, my father came out to see how I was doing with the driveway.

“What are you doing?” he asked me. I bit my lip and thought for a moment.

“I’m watching a recital of ice ballerinas,”I replied. “While I was sitting at my throne with the Snow King, in a winter palace of pure magic.”

I stared at my father. My father stared at me.

To my amazement, he smiled. “Can I join?”

winter palaces and ice ballerinas delia rainey

Delia Rainey, 10
St. Louis, Missouri

winter palaces and ice ballerinas liza nikitin

Liza Nikitin, 12
South Salem, New York

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