"It has been such a quiet, lonely kind of day," Jo complained to Marmee one cold, snowy evening in February. All five of the Marches had been shut up all day; snow had been falling for several hours and it lay so thick on the ground that it would have been difficult even to traipse next door to visit with Laurie. Normally Jo would have been quite content to spend the day reading in whatever cozy nook she could find for herself, but today of all days she was full-to-bursting with energy and wanted nothing more than to do something exciting. She had already proposed an impromptu meeting of the Pickwick Club (Meg declined, saying that she wanted to finish the needlepoint she had been working on for a month); a production of a play Jo had written several weeks ago (Beth protested, claiming that she was too tired before spending much of her day at the piano); and a game of exploration around the already well-excavated and many times investigated Orchard House (Amy declared that she would much rather spend her free time sketching the beautiful view from a third floor window). Even Marmee turned Jo down when the latter offered to read aloud the newest chapter of Dickens.
Jo, feeling that adventures were hard to feel truly excited about when one had to embark on them without companions, had instead spent the day trying to invent a new tale of adventure and romance, but could come up with nothing. By supper time, she was thoroughly frustrated and knew that she was in quite a disagreeable mood.
After a delicious meal as prepared by Hannah, and after all of the evening chores had been finished, her sisters once again went off to be alone, and Jo sat next to Marmee next to the fire. She attempted to work at her knitting—she, her sisters, and Marmee had all undertaken the compassionate endeavor of making scarves for all of the poor soldiers that were still out fighting alongside Father—but she pulled the yarn angrily, making her stitches uneven and full of mistakes.
"Have you been so lonely today, Jo? What about your sisters?"
Marmee's rocking chair went back and forth, back and forth. Jo carefully untangled the yarn from her fingers as she responded, "Meg embroidered, Beth practiced her music, and Amy sat up next to one of the third-floor windows all day drawing the snow. How one draws snow, I cannot tell. I wish there was not so much of it outside, and if there must be, then at least I wish Laurie could have visited, or that I could have visited him! I've tried to read a novel, Marmee, and to write a few more of my little stories, and I've even tried knitting. Nothing works—I woke up this morning hoping for an adventure, and now that I haven't got it I'm afraid I've been quite disappointed." Jo looked out the window, where a blanket of white covered everything, and scowled at the snow as if it could see her face and realize the errors of its ways. "I only wish that today had not been such a waste."
Jo began to roll her yarn back into a neat ball. Sighing, she looked up at Marmee, on whose lips was the hint of a wise smile that Jo knew quite well. Her mother's voice was calm as she said, "Not every day can be an adventure, Jo, my sweet. Some days are 'lonely and quiet,' as you say—do you really think that means such days have been wasted?"
Jo knew in her heart that Marmee's words were true and yet she still felt as if nothing useful had really been accomplished. She looked back down at the scarf in her hands. A creak in the floor behind her made her look towards the doorway; Amy was standing there. Her face was streaked with the evidence of tears and she looked quite tired and cross. Jo looked away, frowning.
"Amy? What's the matter?" asked Marmee.
"Nothing," Amy replied in a trembling voice, shaking her yellow curls, "only that I've been trying to draw the same scene all day and I simply cannot. Every sketch I draw looks completely incorrigible."
"The word you mean is 'horrible,' and you should say it," snapped Jo, and regretted it instantly when a tiny sniffle (sounding as graceful as Amy could make it) led her to glance up at her smallest sister. Amy's expression was of utmost frustration and despair, and Jo knew straight away just how her sister felt. She took a deep breath and apologized. "It's just that the same thing happened to me today," she added. "I've been sitting at my desk all day, pen in hand and a blank sheet before me, but no words came to mind."
Amy sat heavily on the settee across from Jo and took a length of yarn from Marmee's basket to twist into a Jacob's ladder. The room was quiet but for the sound of Marmee's chair rocking back and forth and the crackling of the fire. After a few minutes had gone by, in which Amy continued to play with the yarn and Jo's mistakes became fortunately fewer, the sound of padding feet alerted them to the presences of Meg and Beth.
"It hasn't stopped snowing all day," Meg informed them all as she went to sit in a chair. "It's beautiful but I don't fancy the idea of going out in it to go teach those children all day."
"I do hope I'll be able to visit the old Palace Beautiful tomorrow," Beth added in a dreamy but concerned tone. "I've been practicing a new piece to play for Mr. Laurence particularly and I supposed I might show it to him tomorrow."
"I'm sure it'll be fine, Beth," Jo assured her. Beth looked mollified at this and, in return, Jo earned a sweet and lovely smile.
Suddenly, she didn't feel quite so lonely and frustrated. The cozy fire warming their chills, the glorious picture of the snow outside, the gentle chattering of her sisters as they discussed all manner of things. Winter would soon be over; spring would always return, and no matter how many cold and lonely days Jo must suffer, her family would always be there at the end of them. When she went to bed later that evening, she thought that perhaps it had not been such a waste of a day after all.