I can see it as though it were yesterday: my little sister, sullenly standing in the middle of the living room, dutifully practicing her tap-dance steps for an upcoming show: shuffle, shuffle, stomp; shuffle, shuffle, stomp. Her movements were embarrassed and stilted; the ‘stomp’ angry and emphatic. She was wearing a cute little dress and her childish little legs, bony at the knee and ankle, had been resentfully stuffed into pretty little white ankle socks and shiny black tap shoes.
You only had to glance at her face – a sullen black cloud – to see that she did not want to be there. She did not want to be practicing that ‘stupid’ dance.
I remember penny candy. I remember when you could buy a chocolate bar, a pop (*) and a bag of chips for 25 cents. I remember when a postage stamp cost 8 cents. I remember listening to music on records – 45s and LPs, to be exact. Cell phones were the stuff of science fiction but you could find a telephone booth on every corner and a phone call cost a dime. I recall how scandalised everyone was when the cost of making a call in a phone booth went up to 25 cents. I remember when computers were as big as a room and almost no one had ever laid eyes on a real one, except for a handful of scientists with obscure titles. When I was in university back in the early 80s, I only called home (collect, of course) on Sunday evenings, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. because that was the only time of the week when the cost of a call was affordable.
It’s funny, the things we get used to; the things we come to expect, year in and year out. I would be utterly miserable living in a climate with no crisp fall; no bitterly-cold winter. It’s what I have always known; what I have gotten used to.
There is something exciting, to me, about hunkering down for the winter.
I love how the world changes; sometimes on a dime: one day it is hot and muggy and the next, the year has deliberately done an about-face in a new direction. The air turns chilly, especially at night: the stars come out in bright contrast against the clear blackness of a night sky that is crisp and humidity free. The trees start to change colour – almost imperceptibly at first – and suddenly, the whole world is a riot of brilliant oranges, reds and yellows. The geese get loud again, noisily heading northward every morning in search for food in farmers’ fields and loudly flying southward in the evenings to bed down for the night. They will do this for a good month or more – the flock growing increasingly big and very loud – until one crisp day when you can smell snow on the air, they will head southward and won’t come back until spring.