That sucking sound

This morning Jasper was a bit moody and blue when I dropped him off at school. We’d spent the day at home yesterday because Simon was sick with a bad cold and it’s easier to have both of them at home at once. I’d gotten a lot of work done, but we managed to watch a bit of a movie, mess up the house, and slip out for lunch at Subway. So this morning as we skittered across the cold parking lot toward the school I reached for a quick fix for his funk.

“Look, Jasper. Just think about how weird it is that that bright thing up there is a huge flaming ball of gas in space.”

“It’s the sun, Dad.”

“I know, but think about this: Maybe somewhere else in the universe there are other creatures that have evolved on a planet that orbits a big vacuum cleaner in the sky… a huge hose that goes ‘schuuuuppp’ all day and night.”

It’s when I talk like this that Jasper is most like his mother. He just ignores me.

We entered the school and were greeted by a cheer: Jasper! Several of his friends were right there in the foyer, kicking off boots and scrambling on the way to class. Jasper’s mood instantly changed, and he totally forgot about me. I watched him head up the stairs to his second floor homeroom, still in his snowboard jacket with backpack on and ski pants wedged under his arm. He didn’t even look back at me, but I overheard him telling his friends, in French, about a big sucking sound in the sky.

Have a nice day, son.

Suzy had swung the car around and I hopped in. Simon, still sick, was strapped in the back. A minute later down the road we spied two city workers in bright orange jumpsuits with reflective Xs on their backs and yellow hard hats maybe 50′ off the ground in a huge tree, limbing. That was neat. We pointed them out excitedly to little Simon. “I could climb higher than that,” he said.

A few minutes later I was dropped off at work. And then there it was: A bright red strawberry on the frozen sidewalk. I just stopped and stared, transfixed by its redness so out of context, shiny and seedy in the sun, fresh from Mexico or maybe California, at the end of its journey on a patch of black ice along Chamberlain Ave near Bank Street. Someone had taken a small bite. I moved on.

Maybe I’m tired, but that strawberry made me happy all day.

It’s almost bedtime now. And I’m delighted to report that the Christmas cactus that sits here next to me under the lamp at my end of the couch has one final bud on it. Maybe it somehow knows that I just packed the Christmas decorations away this past weekend. More likely that it was coaxed out by the warmth of that big fire in the sky. Works for me.

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