Mrs. Huff was noted for her monumental bosom and the hiccupping soprano. She used to teach my third-grade class the song “Far Away Places.” Singing lyrics about the alluring glamour of lands across the sea shaped my desire to visit “places with strange sounding names,” and motivated my collection of unusual words that describe travelers’ experiences or emotions. Some of my favorites follow.
Men have fewer fashion crises and quandaries than women. To be considered well dressed, a man buys a limited number of items: shirts, jackets, pants, underwear, shoes, socks, belts and a tie or two.
In September of 2015, ten scientists won the satirical Ig Nobel Prize for scientific studies of questionable worth. When I read about the tongue-in-cheek prize and the dubious research it rewarded, I felt better about my failed attempts to participate in an extra-curricular science fair in seventh grade.
Every year, since moving to Craig in 1996, I wait for the spring of Disney movies and picture books: birds swooping, squirrels frolicking, flowers blossoming along my path and colts auditioning new legs.
Gazing out the window at Craig’s snow-bound, January world, I remembered, chuckled and thought, “This is perfect snow-turtle weather.” I ran with my fourth-grade classmates as fast as I could across a playground of snow and ice. Reaching the turtle-building area first, I slid to a stop, knelt, and quickly began to shape a solid, knee-high mound of snow with my mittened hands, thinking maybe this time I would win.
When the first heavy snow fell, we expressed surprise and dismay as we shivered in thin jackets, stomped our sneakers free of flakes, and bought new snow shovels.
Another unending January indifferent to the discomforts and inconveniences caused by its weather. Noses run. Furnaces strain. Clumps of melting snow litter entryways, and glazed patches of ice glint with menace beneath a weak winter sun.
I have an unusual Christmas tradition. I watch for Cook Chevrolet’s annual newspaper ad: a list of events or circumstances that made the previous year a good one. For example, in 2014, the list included “We live in a beautiful place, surrounded by the nicest people in the world. Most of us have our good health. We slept inside last night. We ate yesterday, and we will eat again today.” The list finished with “The Broncos are in the playoffs.”
Years have passed without several of my important people, and I’ve lost some of the details that made them unique: their laughs, their intonations, their facial expressions. But Christmas helps me remember. As I bake cookies, hang ornaments, or listen to the gentle notes of carols, memories of those who shared my Christmases bring them back to me in their entirety.
My hair stood on end when I first heard the song “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.” Evidently, Santa knew if I’d been good or bad and cared. As I listened to Perry Como warbling on the radio, “So be good for goodness sake,” I filled with anxiety: “Christmas is four days away, and just this morning I hogged the bathroom, folded the corner of a library book, and sneaked a box of Jell-O from the kitchen — and ate all of it. I’m doomed.”