Winter Beads

The frigid night air cut through the paper thin wall of the green Eureka ‘A’ frame tent, as a small layer of frost slowly began to encapsulate my evening fortifications. The air turned in to little ice crystals after each breath. The only apparent noise other than the air’s shrill through the naked winter trees, were the drowned out fish tales of brave beer up ice fishermen floating off the desolate frozen lake into the night. A few dwindling camp fires speckled the black banks of the lake adding to a small smog hanging low above the lake.

Rolling back a forth excavating a comfortable ditch to hopefully spend the next few hours in, the snow creaked and groaned compacting under the heavy weight of my mummy sleeping bag. Three penguin hand warmers strategically placed along the length of the bag provided the extra warmth needed to shield myself from the harsh nature of Wisconsin. Before long, my eyes grew heavy and the soft flapping of the rain fly serenaded me into dreamland.

I had spent the past four years attempting to acquire the infamous and illusive white bead which was awarded to any scout who spent an evening sleeping outside in the dead of winter in either a tent or igloo, and woke up to a fresh coating of snow. Now if I didn’t have the bead it wasn’t from a lack of trying, each winter camp-out had come for me with a cold outside night and left with no snow and no white bead, while my fellow scouts spent their evenings tucked away inside the cozy fire heated cabin.

Until one night defying the ruling of the adult leaders that it was too cold to safely sleep outside, something happened, “Something Wonderful”.