Friday, December 1, 2006

First Snow

First snow and it's a doozy. Inches of wet white that fell the tall linden whose branches filled the view from our front windows. Her rings showed she was at least twenty years old; was it the drought two years ago or this year's wet that weakened her? Her trunk had leaned gracefully, but the forestry guy from the village said that you could tell from her upright top branches that she had done so safely for years. I looked out to marvel at her covered in snow as soon as I woke, then came back to the window moments later to find her down in the street. Mia cried, Nora stared.
On beautiful summer days the five block walk to a playdate at Jane's house can seem too daunting with the kids, but today's fresh fall called out for plunging into the wonderland. Soft snow delineates every delicate bare branch. I pulled Nora in the small red sled and Mia walked the half mile to, then from, Aidan's house. Mia fell face down in the snow to make her snow angels, licked at the tiny piles of cold white on pine boughs, broke off icicles to show me.
Nora shut down in the round capsule of the plastic sled. She was held in place by the high sides, her feet out in front of her. She hugged her stuffed Siamese Boo and bent her head down to shelter her face from the still falling cold flakes. She didn't struggle, didn't move, even when I jerked her over the icy boulder fields left by the plows or left her for a minute on the sidewalk to run across the intersection and carry her sister across the deep streams of slush.
We walk in the streets for a block or two but I'm frightened, even on this eerily quiet traffic day. I have visions of incautious SUV's, of locked tires, miscalculations. Is this what connects me to other mothers in a sorority of perpetual anxiety? Or do I belong to a fringe that dares to go farther, to a darker place, to a more vivid imagining? Where I hear my screams. I shake my head, come back to this moment and haul the sled over the curb back toward the sidewalk.

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