The Warmest Thing

Sometimes it’s possible to be so cold, that even a scarf can be the warmest thing we place around us.

I was sitting huddled over in one of those retro style fold out picnic chairs. The wind was howling and the temperature was just above freezing. My teeth were chattering so badly I thought I’d break a tooth.

To say I was cold was an understatement; I was freezing yet in my handbag was scarf. A wonderfully warm, woolly scarf.

Not for the first time, a clever travelling companion said, “Lady, if you’re that cold, why don’t you put on that scarf!”

Not for the first time, I replied, “When it gets really cold, it will be the warmest thing I can put on.”

– ⋅ o ♥ o ⋅ –

It was 2005 and my husband and I were holidaying in New Zealand.  We were there so my husband could go skiing, but for almost four years I’d been dreaming of plodding the pathways of a particular Hobbit. Needless to say, I’d booked a tour long before we’d left the sunny shores of Queensland.

As we stood waiting at the front of our hotel, a magnificent beast appeared on the horizon. Aerodynamically designed, all shiny, sleek and sexy. As the vehicle got closer, our hearts pounded in anticipation of journeying to Middle Earth aboard this beautiful black beast.

But our excitement faded as it drove past without stopping.

Our vehicle clunked along behind. An old, rusty mini van no less. A Mitsubishi L300 that fell out of 1980, complete with busted window seals, frayed cloth seats and, the most alluring feature of all, no heating. We would be in this spectacular chariot for the entire day.

– ⋅ o ♥ o ⋅ –

As we ascended Mount Sunday, the location of the City of Edoras in the second Lord of the Rings film, the motor went clunk and concern was visible on everyone’s face.

“Don’t worry” our guide said. “This old girl does that all the time.”

As we descended Mount Sunday, the motor went clunk and the look of concern deepened was on everyone’s face.

“Don’t worry” our guide said. “This old girl does that all the time.”

As we began crossing the eighth of nine creeks, the motor clanged and banged and as our look of concern became a look of horror, our guide said, “This old girl has never done that before.”

– ⋅ o ♥ o ⋅ –

This is how I came to be sitting on a fold out picnic chair, huddled over, freezing in the howling wind.

But as cold as it was, I knew it could get colder.

It was only 2:00 pm and even though our guide had set out on foot to find help, there was every possibility it would get considerably colder before help arrived.

Not for the first time, a clever travelling companion said, “Lady, if you’re that cold, why don’t you put on that scarf you have in your handbag!”

Not for the first time, I replied, “I’ll appreciate that scarf later when it gets really cold.”

– ⋅ o ♥ o ⋅ –

When rescue arrived, it came in the form of a passer-by, a farmer out checking his fences. We were marooned in the midpoint of Middle Earth and he was miles away.

But I heard him. Above the howl of the wind, I could make out the whir of a four-wheel drive negotiating rocky terrain. “Shush!” I said to the group, not unkindly. “I can hear a car.”

“Lady. There is no way anyone can hear anything above this wind.” He really was a clever travelling companion.

My husband came to my rescue. “Sorry, but if my wife says she can hear a car, she can hear a car.”

Scanning the horizon was futile, but up the rise of the mountain off in the distance, I spotted movement. Barely discernible, I squinted and focused above where I believed a small red object had moved, praying it would move again.

“There!” I shouted above the wind, pointing up the rise. “There! There’s a red car.”

– ⋅ o ♥ o ⋅ –

We waved our arms. We waved our jackets. I waved my spare scarf and as our saviour headed our way, that clever travelling companion said, “I bet you regret not putting on that scarf on now!”

I smiled and said, “We haven’t been rescued yet.” We were on one side of the ninth creek, our rescuer on the other, and the only way across was by shanks’ pony.

Shoes, socks and trousers were removed and the painstakingly slow wade across the creek began. I felt an eternity pass between entering and exiting that semi-frozen thigh-high water with countless nasty needles knifing me all the way. I remember making it half way before I started shaking and then struggled to complete the crossing without falling. My feet slipped over the mossy pebbles lining the creek bed and my heart beat faster with my rising fear.

– ⋅ o ♥ o ⋅ –

My husband re-entered the water and assisted me through those final slippery steps.

As we squashed into the back of our rescuers vehicle, my husband helping me dry off, the cold set in and I started shaking violently. It was unbearable, I’d not felt anything like it before. While my husband laced up my shoes, I pulled my gloves over my frozen fingers and tried not to think about the burning in my feet.

What if my feet were too cold? What if? Fear reached out and held me with its cruel hands. Tears slid down to bounce off my chin.

That’s when I felt a comforting hand on my shoulder and for the first time that day, a very clever travelling companion said, “Lady, if you put on that spare scarf now, I’m sure it will help warm you up!”

It was the warmest thing I have ever wrapped around me.

– ⋅ o ♥ o ⋅ –

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Author: Clare

Ever-expanding one star at a time, my cosmos is a galaxy of thoughts and creativity where you can find poetry, short stories, photography and so much more.

8 thoughts

  1. You guys have so many great (although I’m sure they didn’t seem great at the time) adventures! You’re pretty lucky you still have both feet, girl. How wide was the stream? And did you ever get to see Edoras? I’m SO jealous!!! I love your spirit of adventure.


    1. Hi Calen,

      It was wide enough for me to freeze, narrow enough that frost bite didn’t set in 🙂 and I do remember thinking I wouldn’t make it to the other side.

      At least we saw the amazing view from the top of Mount Sunday (Edoras) before being stranded. And yes, sometimes we think we’re jinxed when it comes to holidays, the topics of many good (I hope) stories to come.



  2. I enjoyed reading your post, snug in a room wearing a nice warm jumper and with the heater on! You’re very lucky you didn’t fall into the creek!


    1. Hi Sue,

      (It is Sue isn’t it?) All these years later, I still can’t believe I actually got into the water. Better than the alternative thought I guess.

      It was the coldest I can ever remember being, but in a couple of weeks Dean and I will be at Cradle Mountain and perhaps new fresh memories of being cold await. At least I’ve packed my spare scarf.



      1. We were at Cradle Mountain in November and loved it, I don’t remember being cold there and the facilities at the campground are excellent. Sue 🙂


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