Winter War by Donna Steiner

December 22, 2014 § 1 Comment

A snowball memory:

snowballI didn’t think my brother had anything to teach me.  He was younger than I and not interested in books.  He liked cartoons and westerns.  He started fires in the woods and ate turtle soup to make me cry.

We rarely had much snow in Jersey but when we did I wanted to throw snowballs.  I could throw far and had good aim; the problem was, I couldn’t pack a decent snowball.  I’d clamp powder in my cupped palms and it would resemble a snowball, but fall apart in seconds.

While I fussed, my brother stacked a pyramid of perfect snow artillery.  His shots stung if they hit, but mostly he aimed at trees where his shots left bursts of powder and satisfying white stars on the bark. I wanted to hit a bull’s eye, too, but gave up when my efforts resembled clumps of dryer lint.

Maybe it was the season for generosity, or maybe it was just pity, but finally my brother said “take your gloves off.”

I mimicked his method of holding the snow tightly, allowing body heat to shape the orb.  “Press tighter,” he instructed.  “It has to be able to fly, like a baseball.”  My hands were freezing, but I followed orders.  I’d had no idea that suffering was required in the name of fun.

Big heavy flakes landed on our eyelashes as we worked.  “This is good,” my brother said. “Wetter snow.  Try again.”  He knocked my first attempt to the ground, but he was right – the new snow packed better.

“Aim at the tree,” he said, nodding at the thickest trunk.  I whipped my first snowball overhand, and as it hit I felt a sting on my leg.

“Ha! Gotcha!” my brother yelled, smiling and reaching for another of his arsenal.


Donna Steiner’s writing has been published in literary journals including Fourth Genre, Shenandoah, The Bellingham Review, The Sun, and Stone Canoe. She is a contributing writer for Hippocampus Magazine and is working on a collection of poems.  A chapbook of five essays, Elements, was released by Sweet Publications.

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