Happy Days in Frozen February
No one calls it a reunion, but two brothers and a sister (with spouses) come together. They are in their seventies and still have one another.
Each one, aware anything can happen to any one of them. Two couples contend with the whizzing freeway world to get here and hide from city scenes.
It’s freezing February. We feed redbirds and finches which flutter freely. It’s a place where the sun climbs and descends hills. We keep appointments, but in the back of our heads, we savor a brightness, a knowing: They’re coming, they’re coming. We do not linger to watch the clouds today. They’re coming, they’re coming.
While they drive through fog, mist, and rain, our Lab’s curiosity goes toward trouble. She gets herself sprayed by a black-and-white varmint. Oh no! Luckily, we have plenty of hydrogen peroxide on hand to neutralize the smell. Not letting this ruin the goodness coming our way.
Everyone arrives. Hugs, smells from the kitchen, laughter. Let’s start afternoon coffee. Our place of serenity embraces quiet talk and loud laughter. We eat a hot supper in a frozen world.
We breathe life and memories from childhood. Everyone here remembers the shapes, tastes, and music of the 50’s and 60’s. No generation gaps.
Temperatures drop, the wind blows. We open gifts from Tennessee that could not be mailed.
Before long, it’s storytelling time, then bedtime.
(Bedding-down in cabins is not unlike how the hens would go to bed early—how they’d settle on their roost up high, fluff feathers, puff out, make cooing sounds to each other like lullabies, then fall asleep.)
A brother and sister leave our house with spouses for quiet and roosting for the night. We then hum like chickens ourselves, find our perches, tuck our feet under, close our eyes.
The daytime hours are filled with dancing light, talk and crochet, problem-solving and brainstorming, mending and decision-making, target practice and cooking. Not greatly different from children delighting in turning a house into a world of crashes, curves, and spins before suppertime.
But then, we lose our little terrier who usually stays close to her master. (I thought she was asleep under a blanket in the living area. When I missed her, I picked up every blanket, shaking them. A sister-in-love laughed and said I looked like an animated cartoon, shaking blankets, hoping a dog would fall out!)
After calling a neighbor and asking the men to look around outside, the dog is found. She had been left inside a truck, not far from where the men had been sighting a rifle. (She’d found a comfy hidey-hole.)
Our place on the river is where fog lives off and on, where the daffodils have not yet shown their frills, where the moon howls now and then, where fire leaps in the west skies. Magical.
Inside the house, another kind of magic—no one is taking the fun or talk for granted.
A wide-range of talk. It starts with how men are so different from women—how men can go to their nothing-box (a happy place in the mind which is blank), and how women are thinking, thinking, always thinking about something. It moves to how men sleep like babies and women hope to sleep until 3 a.m. So many comments and laughter. We talk about how detailed some of us are and how a couple of us are happy with just the big picture. None of us, the same. God’s handiwork.
Another fun conversation centers around a brother’s shirt being accidentally worn inside-out. Laughter leads to instructions on how to cope, clothing-wise, if you miss your plane and must stay overnight in a hotel.
The most important thing, someone says, is to know that you can turn your underwear inside out and get another day’s wear out of them. Of course, someone tops that. And not only that, you can turn them backwards and get a third day’s wear! Four days wear could happen, if necessary! Uproarious laughter!
Only snow with flakes as big as goose-feathers could have topped that one! Too cold for snow, but dear God, please don’t let us take these days and each other for granted.
These gatherings are like mountain music echoing from mountain to mountain. They warm the heart.
On the last morning, four of us make a plan—we turn our shirts and pants inside-out, then greet the brother who’d worn his shirt inside out the day before. Being a detail man, he notices! It’s a hoot! (We wanted to be a part of his story, we wanted him to know we were with him, we wanted him to know we’d go inside-out with or for him.)
Finally, that brother looks at his wife and says it’s time. Echoes around the table. Noooo, please don’t goooo. Smiles on every face.
Hugs, photos, and then back to their hurried lives and a breakneck world.
But we knew they’d not forget how the heat was squeezed out of the sun for a few days, how clean the mountain air smelled, and what joy emerged when the family came together.
May God bless you and your family,
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