The seasons seemed so long when I was a little girl. I couldn’t wait for summer, by August it seemed like the sweltering heat would never leave and make way for fall. Once school started, I wondered when-o-when would the snow arrive.
I jumped out of bed when it was still dark, just to see if any snow fell. The ground was white and the willow branches sparkled stiff. Hurray, it snowed. My heart gave a leap in my chest and at the same time I looked at Bonita, she looked at me. “It snowed,” we said right together, then “You owe me a Coke,” ’cause the first one to say that, wins. We don’t really get Coke, it’s just a game. Mom never buys pop, except for Vernors if somebody is sick, or when she’s making that special fruit cocktail she makes by throwing a whole bunch of different of fruit together and then pouring brandy all over it, and letting it sit for a couple of days so all the flavors blend together. Yuuummy. Mom scoops the fruit cocktail into a beautiful glass that looks like the kind movie stars drink from with a skinny stem that you hold with three fingers and curl your pinky out in the air. I saw Hoss on Bonanza do that once. He’s my favorite Cartwright brother.
Right before dinner, Mom poured some Vernors on top of the fruit, and sat one glass in the middle of each place setting. I had to sit still, which is kinda like torture, ’cause for one thing it looks so pretty, and for another thing, the Vernors bubbles up into my nose and makes me want to sneeze and breathe in deep at the same time ’cause of all that gingery smell mixed with the juicy, fruity smell. I waited until the prayer was over before digging in, then I was super careful, ’cause it’s a glass-glass and a delicate glass-glass, so easy to break. I bet you guessed already, but Mom only made that stuff on special days like Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I was all dressed up. Another big reason to be careful and stay clean. I was terrible at that. Somehow I got dirty even when I tried not to.
Anyways on days when I thought the first snow fell, I got electricity going in my legs and arms, so quick as lightning I got out the door to feed the chickens and do morning barn chores. Darn it all, nothing but a heavy frost. The grass looked all blue-white in the dark, but it crunched underfoot like a million robin eggs got dropped from the trees. Nothing to scuff with my toe; nothing to roll into a ball; nothing to scoop up with my mitten and taste, all crunchy-clean in my mouth. Darn it, only a heavy frost. Man-o-man, when was it ever going to snow.
I looked up at the sky: not a cloud in sight. The Milky Way spread out above me as far as I could see and the constellations twinkled bright as Dad’s eyes did when he tried to keep a secret; only the sky was navy-blue velvet and Dad’s eyes were light-light blue. I only knew how to find the Big Dipper. I looked for my name up there in the stars like St. Therese did. Nope. I looked back at the grass all blue-white, teasing me into thinking it snowed. Maybe God’s a practical joker; it was time for snow to come. He knew that; He knew everything, so He knew how much I wanted it to snow. That would be a mean joke, like Uncle Gene’s, not a funny one like Dad’s, where even if it’s no all that funny, I had to laugh ’cause of his eyes, and ’cause the corners of his mouth twitched up begging his whole face to smile and begging me to smile, too. That made me laugh out loud, even when I didn’t get the joke. Well, maybe God was busy trying to feed the hungry people in China. That seemed more like the God the Sisters told me about in catechism. I took one more look up at the heavens before I headed back to the house for breakfast. Nope, no snow-clouds and no “A”; just the Milky Way and bright stars all over heaven just a-giggling down at me.
Grandma told me the older she got, the faster time passed, until the seasons just blurred together. That seemed so strange back then, but now I have that same experience. It seems like summer just left, and now I’m getting ready for Thanksgiving and before I know it, Christmas will be here. Each season is alive with beauty: new growth in springtime, flowers in summer, crisp colors of fall. Frost has its own sparkling beauty, disappears before I have my fill. When I was little, the seasons seemed so long, yet I missed the splendor; now that I’m older, all that beauty just seems to slip away before I’m ready to let go.
Perhaps God does, indeed, enjoy a good joke.