Merry Christmas, everybody! Jack Caldwell here.
It will surprise those of you not from the Bayou State that it can get cold in Louisiana. Not that nine-below-zero-fifteen-below-wind chill cold that hits the Great Plains and Upper Midwest with some frequency. No; what we get is that thirty-eight-with-wind-and-rain that feels like it’s below zero. The cold just cuts right through you. High humidity goes both ways.
And, once in a blue moon, it SNOWS down here.
I write historical romance, and while some may argue that the events depicted in CRESCENT CITY are too recent to be considered “history,” I disagree. In any case, the following did happen on December 25, 2004. The images are from that day. I hope you enjoy my little offering.
From ELYSIAN DREAMS, Chapter 15
Saturday, December 25, 2004: Chackbay
“Lizzy!” cried Kit Boudreaux. “Lizzy! Come see! It’s snowing!”
With a yelp of joy, Elizabeth bounded off her family’s couch and flew to the window. Sure enough, the weatherman’s forecast had been right. It was snowing on Christmas Day in Louisiana.
Minutes later, Elizabeth and Kit stood on the front lawn amidst the fat flakes floating down from the sky.
“This is so cool! Do you think we can make snowballs?”
Elizabeth noticed the snowflakes were melting quickly on the grass, but she didn’t have the heart to point it out to her sister. “Let’s try!”
The snowballs they created were pathetic, but they didn’t mind. South Louisiana got snow about once every twenty years. For it to snow on Christmas Day, of all days, was a miracle. Laughing and playing with Kit, as she hadn’t done since high school, brought joy to Elizabeth—and hope. Hope that this was a sign of better days to come.
“No, Mom,” Chuck explained into his cell phone, “we just can’t make it to Baton Rouge today. The roads are all slick and icy … What makes you think the back roads are in any better shape? C’mon, Mom, I know you’re disappointed not to see us on Christmas Day. The kids are too. What’s that? … Of course, we’re not going to Chackbay!”
He looked at Jane, who was having a similar conversation with her mother on the landline. She rolled her eyes. Chuck returned to his conversation. “We’re staying right here in Covington where it’s nice and safe. We’ll get together in the next couple of days, all right? … Good. Say hi to Carrie and John. Merry Christmas. Bye.”
Jane plopped down on the couch next to her husband. Hailey and Brett were engrossed with their presents under the watchful gaze of Rufus. “Your call as bad as mine?” She sighed.
“Catherine Bingley was on the other end. What do you think?” He grinned as he slid his arm around his angel. “So, no Great Circle Drive this year.”
Usually, the Bingleys drove the hour to Baton Rouge first thing Christmas morning to exchange presents and have lunch. Then it was a ninety-minute drive to Chackbay for dinner, before jumping on the road again for the two-hour journey back to the North Shore.
“Nope,” said Jane, playing with his shirt. “Whatever shall we do with all the free time?”
“I’ll think of something,” he said as he kissed her.
Catherine Bingley clicked off the cordless telephone. “Well! It looks like it’s just us today,” she announced to the couple with the child seated on the sofa next to the Christmas tree, decorated in blue and cream, presents wrapped in coordinating paper tucked artistically below.
“Whoop-de-do,” said John Buford.
Carrie Buford dug an elbow into her husband’s side. “I’m sure we’ll have a fine time, Mom, especially since we know Chuck, Jane, and the kids are safe at home rather than chancing the roads today.” Trey struggled in her arms, trying to get at the presents.
“Humph.” Catherine wasn’t completely convinced the others weren’t on their way to Chackbay that instant. Heaven only knew that Boudreaux woman didn’t have a brain in her head, so she may have badgered Chuck and Jane into traveling. “I suppose I can heat up the cinnamon rolls before we unwrap presents. Carrie, would you lend a hand?”
“Sure, Mom.” She handed Trey to her husband. “Behave yourself.”
Buford was sure she was not just talking to their son. Trey continued to wiggle as Carrie followed her mother into the kitchen. Buford grinned and placed his boy on the floor. “Go get ’em, champ,” he advised.
Trey Buford was a good boy and always followed his father’s advice. The carefully wrapped presents never stood a chance.
Frances Boudreaux replaced the telephone handset onto the base. “Well! It looks like it’s just us today,” she announced to her family gathered around the Christmas tree, decorated with angels and bows, presents plied high beneath it.
“Okay,” said her husband, T.B., “can we get somethin’ to eat, then?”
“Yeah, Mom,” said Elizabeth, “let’s just have a great Christmas. I’m sure we will, especially since we know Chuck, Jane, and the kids are safe at home rather than chancing the roads today.”
“Humph.” Frances wasn’t completely convinced the others weren’t on their way to Baton Rouge that instant. Heaven only knew that Bingley woman had no heart, so she may have bullied Chuck and Jane into traveling. “Well, I’ll just throw the breakfast casserole into the oven before we unwrap presents. Kit, would you lend a hand?”
St. Charles Parish
William Darcy sat on the sofa in the living room of Dansereau Plantation, sipping his coffee and watching Gina model her new ski wear. To protect the floor, the new ski boots and snowboard were left in their packages.
“What do you think?” she asked cheekily. “Do I look glamorous enough for Vail?” The major part of her gift was a weeklong trip to Vail over Mardi Gras.
“My sister, the ski bunny.” He grinned. “The ski bums will be all over you.”
“Fat chance of that happening with you coming along.” She stuck out her lower lip.
“Damn straight,” he said as he sipped his coffee.
Until next time, this has been the Cajun Cheesehead Chronicles.