“The trees were sculpture without their leaves when you were reconciled to them.” Ernest Hemmingway, A Moveable Feast
My mom’s ice skates. They hung on a peg in the furnace room in our basement. I remember liking the way they looked, hanging there against the raw wood. I also liked to imagine a younger version of my mother gliding silently through the mist that hung above the frozen creek near her home.
I remember the first time I got to try them out. It was a perfect winter day. My best friend Jessica and I decided to trek down to a tiny pond at the edge of our hometown. I can still feel the sting of that snow packed earth beneath my jeans as I laced the skates tight. Back then new skills were easy to acquire and within moments I was slicing those blades fluidly against the surface of this beautiful retreat. Jess and I twirled and pirouetted our way through the blissful evening and into the sudden darkness of night. As we stuffed our frozen toes back into our boots and began our journey home I remember being taken aback for the first time by the way the bits of fog had settled onto the tree limbs and now glistened like millions of teeny diamonds strung against a velvet midnight sky. Always one to capture the moment, I traded my skates for a pen and battered notebook and ran back outside as soon as I had returned. I needed to describe in detail this new found beauty.
But yesterday… well, yesterday it was still supposed to be fall. My son had a football game and I dreaded it. Now I love football. I really love it. And I love fall as much as I love football. The two are supposed to go hand in hand. But this fall seems to have quickly morphed into winter. So as I left the cozy warmth of my home to venture out onto what had truly become a frozen tundra I was miserable. I dressed in layers of gortex and fiber fill, completing the look with gloves and yes, the be all end all of redneck wear, a stocking hat. As I parked my lawn chair between other 6th grade moms who were unrecognizable beneath their protective coatings there arose a lament against the season. Regrets over living in this God forsaken country rang out over the sounds of chattering teeth and steaming thermos’ being unscrewed. We were already sick of being cold and we were barely into October. This is love. Sitting in the midst of this barren wasteland that is a football field in winter, muffled claps of encouragement stemming from frozen fingers shrouded in thinsulate. But even love could not overcome the discouragement the cold brought with it.
Our team lost. Oh we lost bad. And as I was trying to thaw my joints enough to pack up the gear and get started toward the car where I knew heat would be found at the press of a button, Dalton came bursting on the scene. His head was steaming, sweat had matted his hair and his breathing was heavy and irregular. His big old arm wove aimlessly around my neck as he breathed, “Mom, what a great day for football huh?”
Suddenly I was 14 on the pond at dusk and the tree limbs were just beginning to dance with refracted light. I knew exactly what Hemmingway was talking about.
Winter has arrived early where I live and I’m not too excited about it, but I guess I better just reconcile myself to the fact. I’m afraid if I don’t I’ll miss out on all the sculpture of the trees, or the beauty of a boy and his frosty football.