The snow had been falling and swirling gently all night long with those flaky clumps that resemble tiny descending clouds – a blizzard of sorts but quiet, and determined. By morning it cleared. The trees glistened and all the world was white. It looked like someone had squirted whipped cream everywhere, thought Gavin. His pajama-clad tummy hugged the carpet and his little elbows and hands held his focused blond head. He stared out at the fluffy stuff blanketing the deck and imagined a gigantic can of Redi-Whip slowly being moved around by God’s hand, coating everything with the deliciously cold foam. His imagination raced crazily attempting to figure if that’s actually how the wonderfully white stuff really came down from the sky. I wonder what snow tastes like…“Dad, how does God make snow? Is it like whipped cream, you know, like in a big can?”
“Well, G-Man, it’s kind of like that. The truth is, it’s very mysterious how there can be no snow on the ground one day and then the next morning, like today, it’s all over the place. But, aren’t you glad that we have snow where we live?” Bryan was pleased that he appeared to answer the question that my trusting young grandson posed, by asking one himself. Meteorology, he reminded himself, was not his specialty, but he had seen many seasons of snow so that certainly counts for something. And he certainly can make up facts when required. “What do you think, Gav?”
“Yep, I like snow.”
“Let’s go wake up Ellie and Mom to see if anybody wants to go skiing today.”
“Sure! Come on, I’ll bet Ellie will want to go for sure!”
It turns out that Ellie was way ahead of the boys and already was busily searching for long underwear and warm clothes. She remembered that I had mentioned the previous day that maybe they could ski if the snow kept coming. And, kept coming it did, she thought! Wow, look at all that!, she exclaimed to herself after jumping on her bed and opening the curtains. I love to ski!
To me, it is always a mystery as to who will come down the creaky, narrow cottage stairs first. Usually it is Ainsley, somehow operating the old doorknob, sometimes Ellie, and only Gavin if Mom or Dad was with him. At two, Gavin couldn’t yet go alone down that steep little path that separated breakfast and games and movies and snuggling on couches from the soft, warm bed up in family’s cedar nest. Today, in the solitude after the all-night, steady rain had stopped, it was Ainsley, their stoic German shorthair pointer.
“Good morning, Miss Ainsley,” I said, quietly so that no one would be awakened. “It’s just the two of us. Let me guess what we’re all thinking for breakfast. Ellie and Gavin want pancakes with whipped cream and probably Nana and Kathleen, and maybe Ryan, will want pancakes as well. Your Mom and Dad will start with good, strong coffee and figure it out from there. You, of course, are happy with a fresh squirrel!” Ainsley, promptly looked up at me at the word ‘squirrel’ with those dancing, passionate brown eyes. Her quivering body spoke in an obvious, “Yes! Yes! How did you know?! Can I go out, huh, huh, can I go out?!”
OK, out you go. Don’t wander off too far!
Ellie and Gavin were next that morning, in an unusual duet of 8 year old and 3 year old negotiating the stairs together with apparently no mishaps or disagreements on the descent. It was that kind of morning at Little Acorns. Gentle and agreeable, like most summertime mornings at our wonderful compound of water, sand, boats, hiking, games, special food and all that makes for a “one-cabin lake resort” in Pure Michigan.
“Gavin, want to watch a movie?” said Ellie.
“Sure!” Gavin responded. “Papa, can we watch a movie?”
“That’s fine, but we need to keep the sound down so that everybody else can sleep.”
“First, let’s look out the window. Did you hear the rain all night? “
“Do you like it when it rains here at night?”
Ellie looked up at me and said, “I kind of do like that. I know my Mom really likes it when it rains here at night. But I usually don’t hear it much unless there’s thunder! I don’t like thunder!”
“What about you, Gav, do you like the rain?”
“Sure. Can we watch a movie?”
“Yes, but first look down at the lake. See, the sun is coming out and all the trees are shiny and happy and the lake is staring back at us. Doesn’t it look like they can’t wait for you to come out after breakfast and play? Doesn’t that make you feel really good today? Come up here on the chair with me, both of you, and tell me what you see.”
Of course, Ellie’s description was vivid. She saw fairies outside the little fairy land that she and Nana had made, and the fairies were drying off their porch and getting ready to make breakfast. Gavin stared at the lake and asked if he could wakeboard when Daddy got up. Then, we all turned abruptly as Ainsley darted down the driveway after a terrified squirrel. Whoosh!
“Hey, you two isn’t it funny that we all like to be here at the cottage, but squirrels really hate it when we show up!”
Autumn Morning – October 16th
Gavin’s brown eyes flickered, then opened to see me staring directly at him, after a night of he and Ellie staying with Nana and Papa. We were pillow to pillow. I smiled and said, “Good morning, Corky”. He giggled a “Good Morning, Papa”.
“Yes, I dreamed about why you call me ‘Corky’”
“Really! That’s funny. Why do I call you Corky?”
“Because that’s what you were called.”
“Yes, you are right about that. Do you wanna go downstairs and see if Ellie and Nana are awake?”
“Umm, no, not yet. Read me a book.”
“OK, I’ll get the ones we had last night - you can pick one. Then, we’ll make teddy bear pancakes, would you like that?”
The difference between an 8 year old sister and a 2 and 11/12’s brother is something like the difference between 5 AM and 7 AM in an ocean sunrise – the mysterious, promising and emerging glow versus the “I’m mostly here! Look at me!”
Ellie and Nana were more than awake. Ellie was already reading aloud some colorful book full of impressive words. Nana was doing her best to keep eyes-wide- open to assist with words, like “ridiculous” and “opportunity”. Although, truth be told, given an extra second or two Ellie would have ‘em figured out. Besides astutely learning how to find a lot of the right notes on a piano, Ellie’s reading has advanced to awe-inspiring proportions.
“Good morning”, said Nana, “how are the boys?”
“We’re good. Papa’s going to make pancakes. Ellie, you want a teddy bear?”
“Papa, can you make me a Mickey Mouse pancake?” asked Ellie.
“Papa, can I have Mickey Mouse, too?”
“Yes, you both can have Mickey Mouse and we have whipped cream that you can squirt all over them!”