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A First Snow
The gentle morning rays of the sun began to slowly peek in from behind the thick curtains. Beside me my little star was still in peaceful slumber, her tiny thump enclosed in her mouth. As I brushed aside the angel feathers of hair from her and wrapped them around her ear, little vapor ghosts swirled around my face like puffs of opium. Even from under the thick bedding mats I could feel the cold begin to seep into my bones with its all-knowing smirk. Today would be my little girl’s first winter.
As I shook her shoulders I whispered, “Hoshi, come on there is a wonderful surprise waiting just for you!” Her unique crystal blue eyes still clouded with sleep didn’t hide her excitement as she ruffled her tangled mass of black hair with both hands. I couldn’t hide my smile as she held out her hands for her surprise. “No sweetheart, you have to get dressed first. This isn’t something that can fully be held in your hands.”
“Papa, I don’t want to get dressed. I’m cold and it’s warm and snuggly in the bed,” she pouted exasperated as she crossed her arms in front of her chest. I laughed knowing this would happen. Luck was on my side as I had already bought her wool hakama, her birthday present, so she would be warm even outside, and went to fetch them from the wooden, embellished chest. As she wiggled out of her thin nagajuban and shivered naked, waiting to be dressed. Slowly a blush of impatience began to settle on her face as she puffed air into her cheeks. “Papa!”
Laughing at her shivers her little hands braced on my shoulders while she stepped into her pants. Though I began to tie the waist band she demanded she do it herself, I wouldn’t argue so I went and fetched her pink hanten, stuffed with straw pads to keep my little star especially warm. She toddled her little figure over to the stove and stood on her tip toes trying to reach the iron cooking pot.
“Yes, all right. Breakfast first then surprise,” I agreed as reached high above her helpless hands and grabbed the almost empty bag of rice. While I pulled out other ingredients my little helper went and fetched the water pitcher from the door, thankfully too short to see the delight that waited for her outside. While the rice bubbled and boiled I roasted her favorite black sesame seeds with the last of the sugar, for today was a special day and there would always be more sugar at market. Hoshi handed me her petite, wooden bowl and I placed the rice and seeds in along with a tiny dribble of dark honey from her uncle’s harvest this spring.
“Oh Papa! I’m so soiled,” she said giggling with delight.
I couldn’t contain my laughter as I corrected her, “Spoiled, Hoshi not soiled. Soiled is dirty and would taint your pure beauty,” and handed her “big girl spoon” to her. She sat down with perfect poise under the warm kotatsu’s blankets that encircled its legs. Hoshi ate very slowly deliberately delaying her surprise knowing it was outside.
“Come now Hoshi, this is a wonderful gift even if it is cold outside!” I almost begged as I picked up her almost empty bowl and ate the last of the sweet, forgotten dribbles. Placing the bowls back on the counter, I dashed over to the chest and threw on my own, though not pink, hanten caring not that I still had on my nighttime wear. Today was a day for wonder and amazement.
Hoshi was drawing invisible spirals into the kotatsu’s wood and I scooped up her feather-heavy body with a loud whoop of joy. “Are you ready for your surprise?” I asked her as spirals of my own escaped from my mouth. Hoshi nodded and squealed, her eyes beginning to light up once again with a smile I had almost forgotten since that day that seems so long ago. Unable to contain my excitement any longer I opened the creaky wooden door that led into a world covered with purity.
Glass-like droplets hung above our small home, like crows that laugh from on top of a straw man and the world was blanketed with never ending glistening white that shined when the sun’s light graced it with its eyes. Hoshi stared and stared until little droplets of her own began to fall from her strangely lovely eyes. “What has happened Papa?”
I rubbed her head and wiped away her shed-for-nothing tears whispering, “Something wonderful, it is nothing to be afraid of.” Kneeling down I took her slight hand in my callused one and slowly brought it to the snow. Hoshi let her hand sit there, petting the snow and I pulled some into my hand and brought it to her mouth, her tiny tongue darting out to investigate the newness.
“It’s rain Papa, white rain,” she said picking up the snow in her hand and crushing it over and over again. “Yes, frozen rain. It’s called snow,” I said smiling.
This would be her first snow, which only I would get to share with her.