We piled into the pickup and set off on our sledding adventure. Mr. Amazing and I were in the front seat, comfortably buffered by his youngest sister, Katarina. In the back were two of their little nieces, eager for the outing.
On the long drive to the hills we spoke of our favorite comic strips, books, movies and music. We agreed perfectly on comics, books and movies, but there wasn't much overlap in our musical tastes. He liked Billy Joel. Ugh! Nothing a little exposure to Tchaikovsky and Chopin wouldn't soon cure, I consoled myself.
The further we drove the hillier the terrain and the deeper the snow until at last we stopped.
"This looks about right," he said, nodding to a snowy slope on our right.
I eyed the terrain suspiciously. Ever since an incident from my youth when I'd careened into a gang leader at an ice-skating rink and knocked him flat, I've had a distrust of all frozen precipitation.
"You're not a chubby 3rd grader, you're an accomplished young woman," I rallied myself and took a giant leap out of the pickup onto the frozen earth.
The ground beneath my feet was gone -- I'd plunged into a snowdrift and was now buried, nay wedged, chest-deep in snow, helpless as a newborn babe and innocent as the driven...
What else could I do? I laughed heartily and freely at the absurdity of it all. Katarina immediately came to my aid and tried to pull me out, but it would not do; I was stuck.
"Help her!" she pleaded to her older brother, who was awkwardly fidgeting around the back of the pickup, nervously fingering a rope.
"I'm not a beached whale!" I yelled caustically, still laughing, but sharply enough for for him to drop the rope, embarrassed.
Honestly I really didn't want his help and was glad he was as reticent to give it. For all the dreaming young girls do of a knight in shining armor saving his fair damsel in distress, I was oddly conflicted. I didn't want to hold his hand for him to pull me out -- it was too much for my reserve to allow.
So I rocked back and forth enough to loosen the snow and, with Katerina's help, indelicately maneuvered out.
Despite not wanting his help, I was annoyed that he hadn't taken more initiative in the situation and was going to significantly glare as much when I spied him tromping up the hill, nieces in tow, packing down a sledding trail. All was not forgiven, but they were awfully cute. Having recovered my breath, composure, and a little self-dignity, I followed.
"Wanna go first?" he asked.
"I think the girls should," I replied flatly, still smarting.
He saddled them up on the sled and gave them a good push down the hill, but they didn't go too far; it wasn't the right kind of snow for sledding. Their shrieks of delight soon turned to, "I'm cold!" and "I'm hungry!" They huddled by the pickup. After one run they were done.
Katerina gave it a whirl and, though more successful than the girls, still didn't fly down the hill. "Nah, it's too powdery," she lamented.
Mr. Amazing looked at me, disappointedly, and then bolted down the hill, much faster than the sled had, and returned with a rope.
"Hop on the sled," he commanded, looking every bit an excited 9 year old boy who was hatching a brilliant plan.
I complied as he tied the rope on the sled and pulled me down the hill as fast as he could run.
"Does this mean he likes me??"
I watched him haul the sled up the hill and ask me, smiling breathlessly, "Again?"
We had two more exhilarating runs with him pulling and I holding on for dear life before the girls dropped the ever-effective, "I have to go to the bathroom!"
We packed up and headed on. I sat, quietly beaming and staring out the window.
I was surprised to find myself humming a few bars of Piano Man.
That night he, Katarina and I went for a walk around the town to look at the Christmas lights. After we set out I heard him mutter under his breath, "I wish I had brought a hat and gloves."
Several minutes later, Katarina was complaining bitterly of the cold and Mr. Amazing again remarked, "I wish I'd brought a hat."
"Why don't you just wear your hood?" I suggested.
"Oh, I'm fine," he said a little sheepishly, "but I was worried about you."
Reader, I assure you, had I been stranded in the arctic at that moment wearing only a t-shirt and shorts, I would have felt nothing but the warm happy glow of a woman who suspects she might be seriously in love.
To be continued...