The Cold Spell: A Summer's Tale
The Morning Dawns
The first sliver appeared in the east, a hint more than a reality, a promise more than actuality, and the land awakened from the long night. The tiny band of light grew in size, and as it grew shades were raised, arms were stretched, and yawns stifled. The village opened its eyes and rubbed away the sleep.
The golden orb slowly rose, but it was not accompanied by warmth, and the people of the town bundled up in preparation for yet another day of frigid temperatures that defied all logic. People appeared on their stoops, their breaths plumbing, their arms wrapped tightly across their bodies, all dressed in fleece and heavy coats on this July morn. Their faces were etched with concern, and why not? There was no explanation forthcoming from the experts. Where there should be warmth there was only numbing cold. Where there should be swimming at the lake and barbecues in backyards, there were frozen surfaces and warm meals by the fireplace. Confusion was the supreme ruler of the town, and with confusion came fear and of course, with fear, came the need to blame.
Who was to blame? Why had the warmth abandoned this lovely, postcard village in July? How is it possible? Should they blame it on global warming? Is the government to blame? Did a foreign nation conspire against them? Had science managed to tilt the scales and disrupt Mother Nature so much that she thought July was January?
Town Leaders Scramble for Answers
An emergency meeting was called by the town government. Panic was rising among the populace, and panic meant dissatisfaction with leadership, so to protect their jobs they hastily called all heads of government to meet at noon at City Hall.
The police chief, the mayor, the town council and other elected officials filed into the cavernous space. There was no bravado in the meeting hall this day. These were frightened and confused people, desperately seeking answers to questions and not knowing where to turn.
The mayor called the meeting to order.
“Thank you, all, for coming on such short notice. We have serious problems to address, and hopefully, by putting our heads together, we can find some solutions. The meeting is open to general discussion and a sharing of ideas. All suggestions will be listened to so please, who will go first?”
Mr. Hopkins, a member of the town council, stepped up to the microphone.
“This is all the fault of the federal government. They’ve been passing laws that they have no business passing, and they’ve upset the balance of nature by doing so. We must contact Washington D.C. and demand change.”
“Nonsense,” said Pastor Baker. “This is God’s will. The people are living in sin, and God is punishing us all for their transgressions. We need to gather up the sinners and banish them from our town. Once that is done, God will smile upon us and send us warmth.”
The assembled throng murmured upon hearing the pastor’s words, a nervous murmuring as they all considered the ramifications of banishing all sinners from their midst. Who would remain if all sinners were eliminated?
The police chief stepped up and spoke with authority. “I tell you, we need to get rid of the riffraff. This town was fine until the outsiders came to live here. You all know who I’m talking about. Get rid of the bums, the unemployed. Get rid of those who aren’t like us. We don’t need their kind here, and the sooner they are forced to leave the better.”
And so it went, hour after hour of the blame game being played, with no results and no workable solution. As the meeting came to a close, the division in the town had only deepened, and suspicion grew as the sun rose and the temperature continued to plummet.
Meanwhile, on the Outskirts of Town
Straddling the city limits sat a small farm. The white clapboard farmhouse was weather-beaten but it stood tall upon a solid foundation. In the pasture the goats and cows ate the tall grass, and chickens scratched and clucked after delivering the morning’s eggs.
Two young children erupted from the front door and ran for the barn to do their chores. Both were dressed in cutoff jeans and tshirts. One was Jessie, a ten year old tomboy with golden locks that spilled haphazardly down to the small of her back. Her blue eyes sparkled with a zest for life, and wherever she went her giggles could be heard.
The other was Jessie’s brother, Preston, eight years old and full of piss and vinegar. Preston climbed trees, splashed through puddles, raced with the wind and always, always, came home dirty from his day’s adventures. Spit and polished at eight, mud would cake his brown hair by noon but, like his sister, nothing would dull the sparkle of his blue eyes.
The two children quickly fed the horses and pigs and cleaned out stalls. They were just finishing up when their mother called them to the house, so like two wind devils they raced back to her loving arms.
“Children,” she said. “It’s going to be a warm one today. Your dad and I think we all should go down to the pond and swim today. Does that sound like fun?”
Their whoops and hollers were all the answers their mother needed. Soon mom and dad, Preston and Jessie, were walking through the fields to the acre-sized pond on the south forty. When they arrived they all ran and dove into the cool, refreshing waters, and the sounds of their enjoyment could be heard for hundreds of yards in any direction.
In Fact, the Mailman Heard Their Laughter
Passing by delivering the mail, dressed in a parka and earmuffs, the mailman heard laughter as he loaded the mailbox at 11218 South Bay Road. A new family had just moved in to this address, and he assumed it was that family that he heard. He turned off the engine and turned his head trying to locate the source of the joviality. In the distance he saw what appeared to be a mother, father, and two small children, diving into a pond. How can it be, he thought? It must be twenty degrees. Have those people lost their minds?
He got out of his mail truck to investigate, blowing his hands for warmth, but as he stepped onto the farm property he was almost overcome by the warmth he felt. Suddenly he was standing in summertime heat. He was confused. He was frightened. He stepped off the property and was cold again. He stepped back on the country farm and perspiration began to form on his forehead.
What should I do, he thought? Who can I tell? Who would believe me? Shaking his head, he got back in his truck and continued on his route, but while driving he called his wife to tell her of his wondrous and bizarre experience. She answered on the second ring.
“Honey, you’ll never believe what I just saw,” and then he proceeded to tell her of the heat, the cold, the family swimming and the suspension of all natural laws.
“Harry, have you been drinking?”
“I swear to God, Martha, I haven’t touched a drop. This really happened? What do you think I should do?”
After much discussion it was decided that Harry should do nothing. He should just continue on his route as though nothing happened, and the story would have ended there had Martha upheld her end of the agreement, but Martha told her sister, and her sister told her mother, and her mother was friends with the mayor’s wife and, well, the proverbial poop hit the fan by three p.m. of that same day.
In the Mayor’s Office
The police chief knocked and the entered the mayor’s office.
“What can I do for you, Mr. Mayor?”
“Chief, I know this sounds like some New Age b.s., but my wife just talked to a trusted friend, and that friend told her of a farm on the city limits where the weather is warm and children are swimming in the pond. She says the mailman saw it all, experienced the heat, and even though I think this is all a fairy tale constructed by a guy who had too much to drink, I think you should go check it out.”
“Heat, on a farm nearby? Mr. Mayor, it’s twenty degrees outside. Look out your window at the ice on the road. How the hell could there be a farm five miles from here where it’s warm enough to swim?”
“I have no idea, and I’m not giving this much credence, but just do me a favor and go check it out, would you please? And take someone with you for verification. Let’s either kill this rumor or get to the bottom of it today.”
So off the chief went, with his trusted deputy chief, through the downtown section, past the strip malls, through a residential neighborhood and finally to the address on South Bay Road. The chief turned into a driveway and followed it a couple hundred feet to an old, white farmhouse. Sprinklers were watering the lawn, flowers bloomed in window boxes, and sure enough, two children were running through the sprinkler in swimsuits.
Getting out of the patrol car, the two officers shed their winter parkas and looked at each other in bewilderment. They cautiously moved along the path, climbed the steps to the elevated front porch, and knocked on the front door. It was answered within seconds by a woman in her mid-thirties. Flour speckled her apron and even spotted her cheeks. She smiled at them, a smile of warmth and friendship, and her lovely eyes, golden like her hair, sparkled.
“What may I do for you, officers?”
“Excuse us for bothering you, ma’am. I’m Police Chief Duncan. This is Deputy Warner. We received a report that there was an oddity here at your farm, and to tell you the truth, this is all a bit strange. We just left a town that is in a deep freeze, only to drive on your farm and be bathed in beautiful, warm weather. Can you explain this for us? I’m sorry, but I didn’t catch your name.”
The woman held the door open wider. “Come in, gentlemen, and perhaps I can explain it all to you. My name? My name is Mrs. Love.”
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)