Tilly and Frank had been married nigh on 75 years, and folks back then had said it wouldn’t last. Odd birds, the both of them, yet they were the proof in the pudding of the ole’ axiom; opposites attract. Night and Day, Salt and Pepper, Hot and Cold, Frank and Tilly: true essences of antithesis. Just like Jack Sprat and his wife, Frank was the reedy one and Tilly, well rubanesque would have been the term used in her youth and even now, in Franks eyes, she remained just so. Tilly was the verbose one of the clan while Frank…well Frank was a man of deep thoughts and few words.
Sitting on the front porch in the faded and peeling rockers, the heat of the late afternoon had driven them to cold towels on their necks and buckets of ice for their tired feet. A pitcher of sweet iced tea with large glasses for each of them sat at elbows reach on the crate between them that served as a table. The porch ceiling fan loped slowly above their heads in the only speed it had left, which barely moved the air dripping with humidity.
“Sure is a hot one today, ain’t it Frank?, Tilly breathed.
“Yup”, replied her husband.
“I do believe this is the hottest July we’ve had since that summer of ’45. You remember that one don’t you Frank, that was the year Miss Jane passed and we had to go to the funeral and several of her nieces got a case of the vapors, yep keeled right over at graveside from the dang heat. I told them they should have had the burial after the heat of the day was over, but nobody ever listens to me. That was some day wasn’t it Frank?”, Tilly paused taking a long sip of tea.
“Yup”, was the response.
“This heat makes me wish it was fall, no… I wish it was winter. You know Frank, November, that’s my favorite month of the year. I used to love having everyone here for Thanksgiving, it would be cold enough that the heat from all that cooking was tolerable ’cause I could step out the back door and get a break from it all. Usually we’d have that first snow of the season ’bout that time of year too. You remember don’t ‘cha Frank, how I used to love the first snow of the year and we’d have to get all the boots and mittens and snow coats down from the attic and you would wax the sleds for the kids so they would get out from underfoot and go to the big hill over on the Gibson farm, you remember that don’t you Frank?”, Tilly took a breath and rocked a bit in her chair.
“Yup”, came the familiar echo.
“Remember how we used to get all Mama’s old quilts up from the basement and make a pallet on the floor in front of the fireplace during the blizzards. We’d lose power and the only light came from the fire and the heat that radiated off that stone chimney would almost drive us out of the room when the fire got cranking. Remember how we used to love hearing that wind a-blowin’ and the trees would be snappin’ and tryin’ to toss the snow off their branches like a dog shakin’ water off it’s back after a bath. Remember how when the fire finally died we’d have to snuggle real close under them quilts ’cause Mr. Winter would rage way into the night and I’d pretend to get scared we’d be trapped and freeze to death so you’d wrap you arms around me tight and tell me stories about how spring was right around the corner? Those were good times, weren’t they Frank?” Tilly sighed with a smile.
“Yup”. Frank remembered and as he slowly reached for his glass of tea, a slight hint of a smile broke over his normally stoic face…”Yup, winters were good.”
Frank and Tilly continued to rock on their porch, cool their tired feet and sip their now lukewarmish tea. It had become too much of an effort to talk anymore, so they were left alone, together in their memories of winters’ past and winters to come.
An Ode to Winter
The only rule: (1) write whatever comes mind; improvise, (2)