Winter has much of the nation still in its grip. My many years in Boston, where snow and ice slushed and slicked the city till well into March, inspired the snow scene in Lipstick on the Strawberry. In this excerpt, my protagonist, Camilla, has just had a disastrous date.
I took the train to my stop and scurried down the two blocks to my apartment building. Dirty mounds of ice lined the street, partially obscuring the fire hydrants, so I panicked for a second about the possibility of fire in my neighborhood and wondered how quickly firefighters could knock off the ice to open the flow of water. I stumbled and nearly fell as a rocky mound impeded my way, ruining my dress shoes as I clambered over it. Trembling as I fitted the key in the lock, I slammed the door behind me and leaned against it, breathing heavily. In a few seconds, my hands and feet began to sting as the blood vessels expanded in the warmth of the foyer. Pain needled my extremities, then seemed to extend into my brain. Tears sprung into my eyes, and I knew I would just have to endure the agony until it passed.
Those needles in the fingers and toes I remember so well. While the snow scene might represent Camilla’s mood at the time – alone, frozen, frightened, – a month or so later she’s in a garden.
A gentle breeze carried the sweet scent of grass as the air warmed around us. Across the green lawn, a cherry tree spread its arms wide, clothed in a crinoline of the palest pink blossoms. Renewal. It could happen. Did.
Redemption. Another chance. All along, under the frozen earth, the ground is being prepared for warmer days, better times. Blossom will hang from the trees like confetti. It will happen.
February holds the promise of spring. Savor the cusp of the season with a book. Lipstick on the Strawberry is on sale for 99¢ through March 1.