A snowstorm in July was just the start.
“It is a miracle.”
For once, eight-year-old Henrietta agreed with her five-year-old little brother Roy Junior. “Look, Mom.”
Helda figured she could use a break and decided to play into whatever strangeness was going on. “Which of you kids miracle whipped this up?” She was starting to like Roy Senior’s constant attraction to pun’s. Her kids groans proved she was improving.
“No. Really. Look out the window. It is snowing in July.” Henrietta shrugged into her winter coat while Roy Junior hunted the closet floor for a lost rubber boot.
Sure enough, the sky outside was clouded over with a Christmas like atmosphere of sprinkling white stuff descending everywhere. Helda dropped her vacuum hose and went over to fog up the window with her excited breath. “It’s real?”
A cautious mother’s hand snagged Henrietta’s collar jerking her daughter to a dangling stop before she headed out the door to play in the stuff. “Oh. Mom. It is only snow. It can’t hurt us.”
Roy Junior tried an end run around her but was tackled by Helda’s left foot. His rubbers screeched on the floor in protest as they stopped in their tracks. “Come on, Mom. The other kids are out there.” He said without thinking. “Just look and see. Their mom’s let them play in it.”
He had rolled the dice with his best excuse he could come up with. All three pressed their noses against the frosted up pane of the front room view window. Try as they might the blizzard was at such strength nothing but falling snow and howling wind could be seen outside. “My flowers.” Helda cried out.
“We’ll cover them up with Dad’s garage tarps. Get your coat, Mom. Hurry.” Henrietta took the loosened grip on her to leap into action.
“Where’s your dad?” Helda never took chances. If anything unusual were going on at all, it usually meant Roy Senior had a hand in it. “Maybe he’s up on the roof trying to fix the air conditioner again.”
Her radar ears trained by years of kid and husband shenanigans weren’t picking up any peculiar vibrations. It sure looked, felt, and sounded like a real winter storm in July out there. “Stay in the yard. Don’t go far.” She called out while turning on the radio to flip through stations hunting for news of the weather.
A flash like that of a huge white light bulb outside and the power to the house went dead. The only sound was the creeping, whisper of snow falling outside. “Now we’re in for it. The storm shorted out the whole neighborhood.”
In the dim glow of the foot high snow banks the kids were playing in Helda watched them roll wet sticky balls of the stuff into the shape of a snowman. “Maybe my cell phone.” But try as she might there was no signal from that constant plug-in to family and friends either.
Shadowed figures were moving about in the yards next to hers. Yelps of joy and laughter fought through the blizzard to her ears. “Time to abandon ship, I guess.” She shrugged into her favorite jacket left on the hook by the garage door and went outside to investigate.
“Too late, flowers.” It was a world turned pure white. Neighborhood kids were throwing snowballs at each other from quickly built snow forts. Few hand made mushes of packed ice made it to their targets. Hands and arms used to fingering keyboards were so unfamiliar with throwing things you had to actually run at a snowball to get hit by one.
Her own laughter joined that of the others. The hottest day in July had disappeared to be replaced by this history making event. Her next door neighbor and best friend, Margo, was out taking pictures with her iPhone instead of yacking on it. Now there was a wonder.
It occurred to Helda as Roy Senior parked into the driveway that the real miracle was people were outside playing and talking with each other. “Power’s out at work. They told us to go home.” Her husband blew ghost breath and leaned over to kiss her cheek.
The light in his eyes sparkled like that of her kids. She could see his excitement and hunger to join in with the adventure going on around them. His impulsive imagination was one of the things she liked best about him. Her man had managed to keep his inner child alive and well which made living with him a pure delight . . . unless something practical needed getting done.
“Oh, go ahead. You know you want to.” She hip nudged him into affectionate action. Her smile seemed frozen on her lips.
“Make a dinosaur dad.” Roy Junior began packing snow as his father began sculpting one fancy ice lizard after another next to the kid's snowman.
“Hey, that’s pretty good, neighbor." John Polley came over to admire the artwork with his wife snapping pictures right behind. “Bet I make some money from the news channels for this. Stand next to it like you just met the critter, Roy.”
As quickly as the storm began, the last fluttering flakes died up in the air. The sun sprouted into view. Clouds withered into wispy summer shapes before disappearing entirely. Neighbors looked at each other like they’d become strangers once more. Their faces reacted with surprise by the act of having just been fun loving, caring humans interacting with each other without reason.
“Power’s on.” Helda announced as the hum of the air conditioner kicked in. People were looking embarrassed and heading back inside.
John Polley and her Roy Senior were heading into their garages, motioning to the kids. “What on earth?” Helda watched in amazement as the miracle continued. House after house got into the act of putting Christmas lights up in July.
That night the whole neighborhood was lit up with families gathering to BBQ and sing Christmas songs. The miracle might not last forever but felt really good right now.
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