Almost painfully cold this morning. Well, yes, painful. My hands keep freezing; my phone battery fails from exposure. But before I lose phone contact, I remember the day: it’s my younger brother’s birthday. I call him and he picks up so I can wish him a happy day. His first words are a bit of self-criticism about something he didn’t do perfectly. I encourage him not to be so hard on himself! I remind him that mom, if alive, would be calling to wish him a happy day, she’d be baking him a wacky cake (the snow man cake was childhood) and dad would probably visit him in person to tell him, fondly, some story about his childhood genius for fixing broken tools. We’ve been close as adults. He shares about how my husband becoming his friend drew he and I closer. And we raised our kids closely together. I was miserable the day, the week he was born. I was five, in kindergarten, and my mother suddenly disappeared into the hospital to have him and was gone for almost ten days because we all got the mumps in her absence (I was faking mine) and the doctor wouldn’t let her come home, and this was in the midst of the hype about the Boston Strangler being on the loose, and we lived in the suburbs of Boston, (well, the same town where I live now) and I have written a very funny personal essay/rite of passage story about this memory, Strangler, and I have sent it out and sent it over the past couple of years and it hasn’t been published. I’ve revised it all that I’m going to – I’m confident it’s done. But I haven’t found a home for it, which is frustrating, because it’s very funny, poignant, and good. So there. I walked for a long walk with the dogs through Rocky Narrows to another spot on the river where you can walk along the bank for a good way, and I looked down, and under the thin skin of some glassy ice at the edge I saw something moving, swimming, back and forth, practically at my feet, just under the ice, as if it was looking for the exit to land. Well, I couldn’t get a picture – Charlie smelled, then spotted him, and I had to grab Charlie and get out of there quickly. But it was a sweet sight and I felt lucky. Apparently, they make their winter burrows on the banks of the river. I wanted a baby brother, he made us five. But I hated kindergarten and I needed my mother home. And then when she brought him, he took my spot on her lap. As he had every right to. Eventually, they caught the Strangler, he confessed.
By D. Gordon E. Robertson - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6454083