It's minus 13 this morning. With the wind chill, it is minus 24. My neighbour Dawn drops 5-year old Mary off around 8 on her way to work. Her husband Steve is away at a retreat for a few days. "Lucky him," she says.
My little girl finishes her Cheerios with Mary in attendance, Curious George on the tv screen. My son draws.
The kids wrap up in snow pants, jackets, hats, mitts, boots. My girl, Jane, looks round and puffy, like a light blue and purple marshmallow. They race outside.
The air is like an all-encasing wave of cold. My nostrils attach themselves and I blow out. Jane and Mary call on the twins. Their mother is a principal at a nearby elementary school. She and I walk behind the brood as they race up very hard little hills of ice and snow, and slide back down on stomachs, bums, shoulders.
I tell Jane, every morning at the bus stop: "Don't get snowy." I'm not sure why this seems important to me. I think, I want her to be dry and warm when she gets to school. Yet no matter how many times I yell: "Jane, don t get snowy "- she can't help herself. She gets snowy. She laughs and mounts the hill again, and slides down. They still play King of The Castle, just like I once did.
My mother has emailed me:
Your father and I think about you in the a.m. taking the children to the bus and probably freezing to death. Wrap up all of you.
The children don't notice the cold. It's the parents, who huddle and stamp. My neighbour the principal, she never wears a hat. I've outfitted myself this year in one of those Russian types, with the flaps and the fake fur. I don't know how she can stand it. She pats at her billowy, streaked blond hair. "Vanity," she tells me.
When the bus appears, we yell, "Bus!"
The children come running and grab knapsacks. I help Mary, and then Jane. Jane turns and offers me her hand and I kiss her palm, and she does the same to mine. Just like the book, The Kissing Hand. So she can remember I love her any time that day, just by touching her palm. She yells back,
"I love you!" There is no shrieking upset child today, being carried onto the bus. Usually, one of the twins fits that bill, but today they are all smiles.
The kids wave from their seats, but the windows are frozen and fogged up. I wave back at blurred images of colour. My fingers are already frozen. I remind myself that polar bear populations dwindle in this ugly global warming, that this cold is what is good and what's a little frostbite, a pair of sticky nostrils when the world seems right?
The bus disappears around the corner.
Sarah Eddenden is a writer and a mom at home. She has had work produced on stage and CBC Radio in Toronto. Her work can be seen online, including Culture Star Reader, Toowrite, Outsider Ink, and ZoneMom, and on her own website,
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