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The icicle ornaments we just unhitched from our Christmas tree look like Popsicles from the pool concession stand after the color’s been sucked out. As lovely as the glass shafts are, I’m thinking of trading them in next year for actual ice pops–the long narrow ones in the plastic sleeves. The bright tubes would be beautiful back-lit by the twinkling lights: blue raspberry, grape, orange, cherry, and lime. Every night of the season, I’d re-freeze the pops so I could watch them slowly thaw on the branches again the next day.

Taking down the tree is an about-face from holiday magic. Every year I procrastinate on calling it a wrap. Yet once I’m ankle-deep in dried needles, I feel almost euphoric about returning to Regular Old Life. From the beginning of the new year, I can make out summertime half-way between now and next winter, like the six at the bottom of the clock. There, instead of magic, it’s barefoot mischief. The circle of the 6 is a cool swimming hole full of skinny dippers and beer cans, and maybe even snakes.

The city pool has its antics, too. The air smells like chlorine and french fries, and when the aromas collide, they condense into Speedos. Middle schoolers scamper away from the chalkboard menu at the snack bar, cracking up about the letters they’ve rubbed out:

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Cok_s:  $0.75

But for now, from the top of the clock in January, salt crusts the street. Schools across the country are closed tomorrow because of record low temperatures.

“The Weather Channel says air’s blasting in from the North Pole,” my Dad explained today, during our weekly call. “Santa must be cracking his door to chuck out the tree,” I replied. My rear stuck out of the coat closet as we talked; I was digging for the Rubbermaid bin where we store ornaments. My unshod son, seeing I was distracted, sneaked onto our icy stoop to greet his friend coming up the path.

Yesterday I went to the grocery for supplies, and fell in behind a woman walking with her four-year old son. “Always remember: your mother wore a coat with darts at the waist,” I wanted to tell him. The sky was gray with the life sucked out, but she was like spot-color applied to an old photograph. They stepped between the store’s sliding doors, and I felt a blast of warmth.

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2 Responses

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  1. Sara says

    Thank you for sharing your profoundly beautiful and humor-laced gift of writing. Your imagery is stunning and palpable.

  2. the Coconut Girl says

    Thank you, Sara!

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