In The Present

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"Where is the sun today?" Anson asks me as we walk to school this morning, past the birch trees and down the hill. I always have the urge to hold his hand as we're walking, but he's careful to walk a least two paces behind just in case I make a move.

"It's hiding behind a cloud cover," I respond with my head cocked behind me so he can hear my response.

Suddenly I notice white bits flying through the air on a wind gust.

"Anson! I think that's snow!" I say dodging massive discarded maple leaves on the sidewalk.

"Are you sure?" he asks me.

And I want to respond, Hardly ever am I sure, son. You should know.

But instead I offer, "Well, they're ice crystals for sure."

I stop and point to his moppy head of  hair, "They're gathering in your hair...and on me."

We stop for a second and watch as the bright white dots of ice land on my black sweater and fade instantly.

"Mom, seriously, look at this leaf," he says to me pointing near his boot. When he picks it up I see that it's huge and I say, "That's bigger than my face."

This makes him laugh.

"I am going to take this into my class and show everyone," he decides.

Carefully he holds on to the leaf until we enter the musty-smelling school and into his classroom.

A quick kiss (no one saw) and he is gone.

I walk home alone catching snow bits on my palms, watching them fade on my cold skin. I remember being in third grade and waiting for the first snow of the season. We had a class wager on which date the first flakes would fall and Mrs. Frazier had a huge candy snowman for the winner.

(I didn't win. I went for an early October date on a year the snow came late.)

(But I've never gotten over the thrill of the anticipation of the first snow.)

Home again, I warm up my hands on the roof of the heated toaster. Then I work on the breakfast dishes and feed the baby.

And two hours later when I pick him back up under sunny skies, Anson runs out of the school with that huge leaf in his hand like the torch on the Statue of Liberty preserved through hours of kindergarten and two dozen sets of little hands.

"I still have the leaf, Mommy," he says to me as I rub my fingers through his hair. "But I wish I could've kept the ice crystals too," he adds.

"They'll come again soon," I respond.

And this time I am sure.

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