Friday, December 07, 2007

No Two Alike

Listen to this while you read.

I wish I’d had a camera. The season’s first snow fell on Kansas City yesterday, and a small militia of children (including my daughter, nearly seven, and son, just shy of four) and I gathered on the gentle slope of a neighbor’s backyard, a vast, lightly wooded expanse that serves as the hub of an oblong wheel of a dozen or more homes. Just past dusk the winter sky turned a milky purple-white, and the glow of Christmas trees in nearly every window settled upon us. The night was still as a reflecting pool, the mercury barely below freezing. Few things are perfect, but this night was.

As the kids, sleds in hand, lined up for takeoff at the top of the hill, I stood at the bottom, the Catcher of the Small Fry, positioned to prevent them from hurtling through the pin oaks and into the shallow ravine. They came, one after another. Solo flights. Tandem missions. Sleds linked together into long trains of pleasure riders. There were no cries, no complaints, and no casualties. Just the very essence of childhood joy, the kind that instantly transports you back three decades.

It’s the sort of thing I didn’t understand before I had kids, something with which I would never bore childless friends. But this is the good stuff, better than any experience you could buy, and the kind of thing you’d miss if you didn’t occasionally force yourself to stop and smell the frozen noses.

As they floated down on their sliding saucers, some were intense thrill-seekers. Some were bundles of giggles and smiles, crash-landing, brushing themselves off, and flying back up the hill almost as fast as they’d come down. Each kid was a snowflake, shimmering and perfect, no two alike.


Satch said...

That was great, Michael!

I just had the same type of feeling ... though it was brought about by a lot less snow and a whole lot more leaves.

I'm pretty sure that growing up, that almost all the folks who visit this blog might have spent one or two Fall afternoons raking leaves. Well, for the first time in years, I just found myself in that same position.

When I was a kid - and I had to get the leaves from the back yard to the front curb, I'd lay out a big tarp, rake the leaves on to the tarp, then drag it all out to the curb. This year, I found myself in that same position.

So, as I raked the leaves on to the tarp, in a nice big pile, I heard my three year old son, Ian, burst out the back door, fly across the back yard and ... uh ... that nice, big pile of leaves ... well ... they were once again scattered across the back yard. And, as a kid, I remember finding myself in that exact same position! :-)

Keep on smiling folks!

Anonymous said...

Talk about transporting. You just took me to the Shepherd Hills Country Club. And I'm going down the hilllllllllllll

Thanks for the lovely moment.

beth said...

The moment you're describing is probably the ONLY thing I miss about getting a lot of snow ;-)


Shuggie said...

I believe that children of our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside.
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier. Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be.