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Snowfall Surprise Excerpt

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

Powderbowl Snowcast:
Storm Advisory! Overnight snow expected Thursday, heavy at times with temperatures dropping to the mid-teens. Thirty inches of new snow expected by Friday; clearing on Saturday and into the week.

Perfect! Savannah Heglund reread the report on the computer screen, then hit speed dial number four on the kitchen phone.

"Hello?"

"Lucy! You aren't going to believe it. It's a ten-foot pack and they're getting thirty inches of fresh pow as we speak. It'll be perfect crud by the time we get up there, and bluebird for the entire week!" she said, talking a mile a minute.

"Savannah? Is that you?" Lucy sounded confused. "What language are you speaking?"

Savannah could picture Lucy, her blue eyes squinched, her dark brows knit. She was undoubtedly flipping her shiny, brown hair to one side and scowling as it fell back to cover one eye, which it always did. Lucy hated to be left out of anything, even lingo, and, in her excitement, Savannah had forgotten that her friend was a winter sport newbie—this was going to be her first real snow trip. Savvy needed to slow down and include a full translation.

"Sorry," Savvy giggled. She slipped her leg up onto a stool beside the family computer, plucked at a thread in her jeans, and started over. "What I meant to say is, the conditions are going to be amazing! There's already a good snow base, that's the pack, and it's snowing great big goose-feather flakes as we speak. The new fluffy stuff is powder or pow, and when it's worked a little so it's just right, it's crud, which sounds bad but is really, really good. The report said the weather is supposed to clear up on Sunday so it'll be all fresh snow and clear skies and that’s what you call blue-bird conditions—absolutely perfect for us to ski in. Or board in. Or sled in. Or skate in. Or—"

"Okay. Okay, I get it, Snowbunny," Lucy interrupted with a laugh. "Is there anything you don't like to do in snow, er, crud?"

Savannah twirled one of her auburn curls around her finger while she thought about that. In her entire eleven years she hadn't met a winter sport she didn't like. And she'd definitely met a lot of them. Her family had a cabin near Lake Tahoe that her dad had been going to since he was a boy. Savvy and her older brother, Avery, had been spending weekends in the snow since before they could walk. According to her dad, Savvy was up on skis at age three (her mom called her the "kamikaze toddler" because she liked to schuss straight downhill with no poles), and was snowboarding by six. According to her brother, Savvy spent most of her time on her face until she was nine, which was when she got good enough to smoke him on the slopes.

It was hard for Savvy to remember for sure what she did then. What she did remember were winters full of sliding, swooshing, stomping, and shredding weekends. From November until spring, the Heglunds would pile into their four-wheel-drive station wagon almost every Friday night and head up the hill. Come Sunday, they would drive down the mountain, tired and happy.

Savvy's mom called their winter trips "slip-away weekends." Savvy called them fun. Slip-aways were a complete blast, but even better than taking two days off to play in the snow was taking a while week off, which they did once a year in the middle of February. Not only did it provide maximum slope time, but Savvy's birthday was also in mid-February, making ski-week a double treat.

"Ooh, I know!" Savvy suddenly remembered the one thing she didn't like to do in snow. "Nothing!" she blurted. It sounded sarcastic, but Savvy was serious. The worst slip-away weekend on record was like a scar in her memory. It had happened last January when it rained, and not just some light, misting rain that made the snow icy either. Big sloppy drops had fallen from the sky for two days straight and turned Savannah's fun into muddy sludge. She'd been marooned in the cabin with nothing to entertain herself but books left over from past summer vacations.

"So, um, what if "nothing" is the one thing I turned out to be good at?" Lucy asked. Savvy could tell she was trying to make a joke, but Lucy could not hide the nervousness behind it. Savannah's supersmart friend had never so much as strapped on a pair of ski—or snowboard—boots. She was a valley girl through and through, a flatlander. And while she loved to try new things, she also liked to be good at whatever she did. Savvy knew that Lucy was worried that she wouldn't be able to keep up with Savvy and their other BFF, Ellison.

"Lu, don't worry. You're going to be great. Remember, Ellison's no hotdogger either. She's only been skiing a few times. Just focus on packing your suitcase, and I'll show you everything you need to know when we get there."

"Packing I can handle!" Lucy replied with her usual gusto. "And speaking of which...I'd better get back to it. I'll see you tomorrow!"

After setting the phone on its cradle and making sure the snow report hadn't been updated in the last six minutes, Savvy tromped down the hall to her bedroom. She surveyed the big purple herringbone duffel on the bed—her own packing in progress—and scooped up the sweater from the top of the pile. The moss-colored turtleneck brought out the green in her hazel eyes, but it made her curly auburn hair look kind of orangey. Bleh. She tossed the sweater back on the closet shelf, grabbed a white one instead, and wondered for the twelfth time if there was anything she'd forgotten.

She had sweaters and wicking layers. Snow pants and a jacket. Underwear and pajamas. She'd already tossed in cute clothes for the Powderbowl lodge and heavy-duty stuff in case the weather got really crazy (which was known to happen—it was the Sierras, after all). She threw extra gloves, sunglasses, and a pair of ski socks on top. Since the car was small and they went to the Bowl so often, the rest of her gear lived at the cabin. Which reminded her...

"Hey, Avery!" Savannah shouted down the hall. "Can Ellison borrow your board?"

Savvy's brother poked his head out into the hall and pulled out one of his earbuds. His faux-hawk was the same rosy brown as Savannah's hair, and though she would never admit it, they also shared the same smattering of freckles, wide smile, and upturned nose. If he wasn't a good five inches taller and three years older, they could have been twins. "What?" Avery asked rudely. Lately, he acted put out if Savannah even spoke to him. Apparently, after you hit fourteen having a younger sister was kind of like having gum on your shoe. Or worse.

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  • Subjects:
    Middle School, Friends and Friendship
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