When you grow up in Massachusetts, partaking in the joy of an old fashion snowball fight is an annual event - a virtual rite of passage. You'd think that getting to play with snowballs in another time of year would not be a big deal.
Every summer, while staying at our cottage on Martha's Vineyard, there would come a time when my mother would come out the back door with a tray in her hand. It would be the under tray from the freezer of the old refrigerator. These days, what with the modern, high-tech fridges on the market, there's never the need to defrost the freezer. Back then, in late 60s and early 70s, with the old fridge we had in the cottage, the technology wasn't so sophisticated. As a result, she had to defrost that old freezer at least once or twice a summer.
Out the door she would come, tray in hand, and it would pile high, with the shredded remnants of the ice she'd chipped out of the freezer. Never one to overlook a chance to give us kids some fun; she wouldn't just dump it down the sink. No, she'd give a shout, and we'd come running!
Gathering the frigid crystals into our hands, we'd shape some snowballs, and then race about the yard. We were always careful to wait as long as possible to throw one. It was a delicate balancing act: hold on to the snowball until it hurt; find the perfect target and throw it before the ball melted too much! At the time, I didn't realize why we were so hesitant to part with our snowballs. After all, they were just snow, and more would come in the winter.
Now, looking back, I see why. When you're a child, time has a much different, how shall I put it, angle to it. We adults don't see it. When you're six, seven, eight years old, a week is a long time, a month is huge, and a couple of months is downright eternity. The chance to play in the snow, especially in the middle of summer, had a great deal of appeal.
Of course, given the limited quantity of snow, and the ambient temperature, our summer snowballs were gone all too soon. We'd sigh sadly, and then go off to find something else to do. If we were lucky, my mom would defrost the freezer at least once more before the end of summer.
This was something we looked forward to each summer. Yet, looking back, it was such a small, simple event. I suppose my mom could have taken those ice shavings and made snow cones! When you're a little kid, the idea of throwing snowballs in summer has a great deal of appeal.
I think it's like going swimming in the winter, it's something you do not typically do during that time of year, and that's what makes it special.
It makes me sorry that we don't have to defrost our freezers any more.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
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