Emerson’s favorite book this past winter was Ollie’s Ski Trip, by Elsa Beskow. In it, a little boy around Emerson’s age receives his first pair of skis and tours King Winter’s ice castle, with Jack Frost as his guide. We all loved reading about these magical winter exploits, but the person both the girls loved the most was a lackadaisical character named Mrs. Thaw. Each time we turned the page to find her sloshing through King Winter’s wonderland in her unbuttoned coat and oversize galoshes, the girls would laugh hysterically and scream, “Mrs. Thaw, it’s not time yet! It’s too early Mrs. Thaw… go away!” Jack Frost shooed her away each time, blowing ice and snow over her sloppy puddles and cursing her absent-minded nature, but as she shuffled towards the edge of the page, the girls giggled and giggled and giggled some more – “Mrs. Thaw…she’s so silly!”
Anyway, this blog isn’t meant to be a book review. But over the last few weeks my thoughts have drifted many times to Jack Frost and Mrs. Thaw carrying out their child-like tiff – Jack Frost stern, Mrs. Thaw befuddled – as we rise from bed each morning not knowing what to expect from nature.
April is such an indecisive month (is it winter or spring?) and one of many unexpected surprises – good and bad. One day I send my kids to school in a t-shirt and it snows, the next day we stoke up the fire and dress in layers, and the temperature rises to eighty degrees. Rather than try to seek cohesion in all this nonsense, we’ve decided to partake in the free-for-all. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, as they say…
We started off by driving down to North Carolina through the night with the goal of using sudden climate change and sleep deprivation to completely disorient ourselves and our children. We followed that up with a bunch of southern accents, BBQ, sweet tea, Jack Daniel’s, staying up late, and no routines to make sure we polished off the job.
We arrived home a week and a half later – just in time for Emerson to go back to school… for three days, after which she was off for a week for Spring Break. And why try to readjust if you’re just going to be on vacation again? Late to bed, late to school…. whatever.
We topped everything with our week-long Easter extravaganza – our friends from Philly came for four nights with their three kids, and our parents came and went in the midst of it. Five kids, a flux of adults, small house…get the picture?
(Somewhere in the middle of that, I went back to work for a couple of days – back to a new menu, new staff, a new schedule… a blur of parchment-baked cod and champagne cocktails that seemed as foreign to me as everything else this month.)
We have winter and summer clothes – both – lying all over the place in the basement, snow-shovels and rakes in the yard, tired, sugared-up kids running to and fro, no idea what time it is, no idea what day it is. Snow the day before Easter? In the words of Donnie Brasco, “FU-GEDDABOUDIT!” If nature is going to go berserk, so are we!
But alas, every battle has it’s victor, and as it turns out, Mrs. Thaw is the hero of our tale. She isn’t as inept as she seemed after all, and as Jack Frost recedes to the background, we see her hard at work, her bewildered expression replaced by one of presence and pride. On the last page, she stands tall – disrobed of her tattered outerwear (“Mommy, look! Mrs. Thaw is wearing a new dress…it’s so fancy…look! Look at all the pretty flowers…”) – and waits for spring to come riding in on her butterfly.
So thank you, April, for such a lovely time, but so must we get back to work. Ready or not…