The Landing

I pressed my nose and hands to the glass, unconcerned by the finger prints and nose shmears left behind.  Yes.  It was good to be a kid on Alston Avenue in the Winston household where a smudge here or there wasn’t a matter of alarm.

I strained to catch evidence of accumulating snow.

My vantage point was the landing between the center halls of our first and second floors.  The window located there looked out to our backyard.  And on a good night there was enough of a moon to cast a silver glow on the grass, the bare limbs of our verbena tree and the roof of our garage.  That silver coating?  Maybe it was snow?

Actually the best place to confirm falling snow was the window from our den on the first floor.  The street light placed just to the left of our house projected a perfect triangle of light that would illuminate falling flakes.

For me, snow was a matter of faith.  It’s what I prayed for.  And prayers began in earnest a week or so before Thanksgiving.  Call it a New England tradition… snow, Thanksgiving were key ingredients in our regional psyche.  Even before a snow day became a critical part of my academic planning, I loved snow.  Great to play in it, great to shovel it.  Great to come back inside to dry socks, hot chocolate and an afghan on the couch.

On the night that I am thinking of, the results from first floor outpost yielded negative results.  Failing to see snow from the den window, the landing was my “court of last hope.”  I knew that if I pressed up close enough to the glass, and concentrated, I could, with the help of suitable prayer, will the snow to fall.  Maybe if I squinted, the silver layer on the grass would morph into a dusting of snow?  A dusting being the necessary step to “inchage”… and inchage being the foretelling of “footage.”

Yes. Bring on a blizzard.

Strategically the landing was a mere five steps from the second floor hall and the bedroom I shared with my Grandmother.  And more than an altar for my snow prayers, the landing was a treasured spot for all types of imaginary indoor play that could occupy my childhood.

The landing, for example, was an ideal location for a machine gun emplacement.  Using cushions from the den couch, pillows from my bedroom, and assorted blankets & comforters, I could construct a formidable redoubt.   A broomstick would be pressed into service as an M60 machine gun.  Occupying the heights, I had covering fire for the downstairs center hall, I had an excellent line of sight to our backyard, and to the Gordon’s yard next door.

It was also a brief distance to my bedroom and the alternate line of supply.  The bedroom was the place where I could stash provisions and extra ordinance (navel oranges serving both purposes: doubling as food and as hand grenades).  Armed thus, I could withstand any assault or siege for ninety minutes… or more!

Our Bedlington Terriers walked in fear!

In peace time, the landing was our home’s primo sun spot in late mornings.  The Bedlingtons knew this.  And so did I.  Sometimes we need to re-charge our batteries, re-gain strength from a strenuous morning of taking out enemy patrols or from peeing on the living room drapes (by this time, I was mostly house trained.  The Bedlingtons, by contrast, never had a housebroken day in their lives).

Baa-Baa and Rocky (the Bedlingtons who took liberties with our drapes) and I would share a sun drenched wedge on the landing.  I snoozed.  They snoozed.  It takes plenty of energy to knock out the Wehrmacht and to pee on the drapes.  And a brief snooze goes a long way in restoring essential life’s forces.

Mammals know this.

I am sure that I see snow there.

I pressed yet closer to the pane, feeling the cold of the glass.  And as much as I would have wished otherwise, a yard draped in silver doesn’t convert into a snow field, regardless of prayer.  Even a young mammal like me knew that…  no matter how close I pressed to the window.

Yet… I could blink.  There was hope still.  And regardless of age, hope is always a good thing.

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