|Grandma's back yard was full of fresh, unblemished snow. I could hear it crying out for our feet, and snowmen were out there - waiting to be born. But we'd have to be quick to beat the warming day.
"Momma, can we go out, please?" My five year old brother, Jamie, tugged on mom's hand.
"Let them go Sharon. They'll be fine." Grandma dried her hands on her apron.
"Race you!" I said as I ran down the hall. Jamie’s feet rapped on the wooden floor right behind me.
I reached the glassed in porch first, grabbed my stocking hat and scrunched it on my head. I pulled one arm through the sleeve of my favorite furry blue coat. My hurried fingers caught on a mitten string.
Mom bent down and helped Jamie zip his coat. She wrapped a scarf around his neck and tweaked his nose.
"That's my boy."
He sure had Mom fooled. I stuck out my tongue at him behind my mom's back. Jamie was going to beat me outside.
I pulled my hood string and the musty smell of fur trim drew tight over my face. I looped the toggles shut on my coat. No fair he had a zipper.
"Keep an eye on your brother.” I rolled my eyes at my mom’s words. I was seven, so I was always in charge.
"And no throwing snowballs at the house."
The buckles on Jamie's snow boots jingled as he flew out the door. The screen door slammed behind him. He was such a brat! He was going to make the first marks in the snow.
If I hurried, I could jump off the top of the stoop and catch him. My feet crunched through the top layer, and I sank up to my knees in snow. I hop-jumped, chasing him through the snow and tackled him. We fell apart and fisted snow in each other's faces.
"Come on, it's melting." I pulled him up off the ground.
We rolled big balls until they were too heavy for us to move another inch, then grunted and hefted them on top of each other. One snow man into it, we gave up and made snow angels.
Wet and soggy, we turned and looked back at the silent house.
"I don't want to go back in." This was not exactly news. Jamie never wanted to go inside.
Since I was in charge, it was my decision. I stood a little taller and puffed up a little bit.
"Ok, a few more minutes."
We tramped around the clothes line and made a trek around the pine tree. We went into the garage and found some charcoal for the snowman's eyes and mouth, and wrapped my scarf around its neck.
We were running out of things to do when we saw it.
Right at the corner of the house, on the eve next to the kitchen window, was a huge icicle. It was the most beautiful, shiny icicle I had ever seen. Colors bounced off it like a prism. Every so often, a single drip would slide down to the very tip, hang for a moment, and drop in a perfect plop. It was so big. I couldn't imagine how it wasn't pulling down the corner of the house. It was a work of art.
"Wow!" Jamie looked way up at it. "I bet I can knock it down."
"We'll take turns, but we'll have to be careful and not hit the house, or Mom will kill us. I'm going first!"
I lobbed a snowball at the icicle.
Jamie threw his baseball style. We took a couple more turns.
Jamie made another throw, watched for a second, and walked up to the icicle to examine our progress.
“Come on, Jamie.”
It was my turn, and I wasn’t waiting on him. I packed a snowball extra big with just the right amount of wet, heavy snow, and hurled it at the icicle.
A tremendous “crack” boomed across the yard as the ice broke free from the eve. All two hundred pounds of jagged, stalactite weight crashed down on to my brother's head. He dropped to the ground, limp.
I couldn't breathe. I was certain I had just killed my baby brother. I wanted it to be me under that icicle.
Then he sat up and started crying. I was in trouble, but I was so glad he wasn't dead, that I didn't care. I ran into the house and told Mom what happened.
I didn’t get to be in charge so much after that.