Yesterday evening, with four-hundred cable channels and not a single thing we wanted to watch, Delphine and I passed time thumbing through a book about keeping ducks and geese. We talked about the garden and moving our strawberry plants up on to a platform so we could pick fruit without getting on our hands and knees. Spring was on its way and visions of growing plants and critters danced in our heads. We stayed up until 3:00am chatting about the possibilities.
I woke at 6:30 this morning and looked out my bedroom window. Wrong color. Where yesterday there was a mat of flattened grasses getting ready for springtime resurrection, this morning there was snow. It’s April 13th – time to file taxes, time to buy seeds, time to plan where the cabbages will go. Snow!
Okay. It’s not much snow. I know I’m being a big baby about it. We probably won’t even have to shovel it. But it’s still white and cold and not at all what I was hoping to see when I looked out my window.
The featureless white sky reminded me of a trip we made in 1975 – thirty-eight years ago. I had just been hired by Digital Equipment as a senior group manager and we were moving from Datapoint in San Antonio up to Massachusetts. A few days earlier I had flown up to Boston with six-month old Vincent and left him with Felice’s sister to avoid the complications of changing diapers and warming formula on our trip. I flew back to San Antonio and helped Felice finish packing the car. Felice, two-year old Joseph, our toy fox terrier Augie, and myself squeezed into a Volvo station wagon packed to the roof with items we didn’t want to trust to movers on a grueling three-day trek.
I got my first (and only) speeding ticket about an hour outside of San Antonio. The tarp we used to cover luggage on the roof ripped and, after stopping in the breakdown lane to fix it, I watched helplessly as a flatbed truck carrying an extra wide house trailer swerved at the last second to miss our car (still holding Joseph and Felice) by inches. It hadn’t been a fun trip so far.
After three days on the road we were finally in Massachusetts. Little Joseph was napping in the back seat and Felice was at the wheel. The sky was the same color as the one I now see outside my bedroom window – gloomy white. Without warning a snow squall came up and enveloped the car. Visibility was reduced to a few feet and Felice slowed from seventy to about ten miles an hour.
I turned to see little Joseph in the back seat wake from the change in speed. When he was less than a year old we had moved from Manhattan to San Antonio. At nearly three-years old, this was his first snow.
He looked, rubbed his eyes, and looked again as if he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. A huge smile filled his face. He knew what this was. He looked at me with the kind of pure delight only the face of a young child can fully express. Pointing out the window with both hands he said, “ICE CREAM!”