April 2011


It is interesting to observe how certain events that Melissa and I consider rather indistinguishable from everyday life can be significant experiences for Everett. For example, he recently started talking about Freddy the Frog. I didn’t understand who he was or how he was connected to our life, but now I do. Freddy is a frog who travels by backpack to the homes of all the children in Everett’s class. His travels are documented in a journal along with photos, which leads to lots of anticipation for the kids who are waiting to host Freddy, and gives each of them a small sense of life outside of their own family. Last weekend Freddy was scheduled to be at our house, so when we picked up Everett from school on Thursday we were also given a backpack containing a panoply of frog-related items. Since then Everett has been showing Freddy all the interesting things in our house, such as the sunflowers that he recently planted in pots on the windowsill, and he is explaining to Freddy important facts such as “Zebras are at the zoo, but actually they live in Africa.” To give you a sense of Freddy’s importance: Everett has always slept with ducky, who was a gift from Mimi before she died (Everett was in utero at the time, but Mimi knew he was on the way). Recently Grover arrived, and ducky was put in the dresser drawer for a night while Grover was in the crib. Now that Freddy is here, both ducky and Grover are in the drawer. Freddy was a constant companion until we returned him on Monday morning.
Watching Everett with Freddy was interesting in many ways. We can only guess at the size of the universe that Everett is aware of, which we attempt to infer from his words and actions. It was fascinating to hear Everett explain the world to Freddy. At this moment Freddy occupies quite a large space and we feel confident that we will hear about him for some time to come. This prompted us to recount some our own formative experiences which were factually unremarkable but deeply memorable. So far the lasting consequence of Freddy’s visit is that we have been reading A LOT of Froggy books.

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Today we had a freak hailstorm which resulted in about an inch of accumulation in less than 10 minutes.
It was wild to watch. During the storm we put tupperware containers out to catch some (to store them in the freezer for next summer).
Later in the afternoon Everett and I went sledding on the hill behind the house. It turns out that even with the modest accumulation and warm temperatures (about 40F), ice ball bearings make for good sledding! We got in four runs, and one was a record distance that hill.

Afterward Melissa and I joked about how the Storm Team didn’t warn us ahead of time. The Storm Team is the weather portion of the news on one of our local channels, and they have developed a habit of preempting all other broadcasting when there is a possibility of weather other than 70 F and sunny. This involves breaking in with taglines like “Storm Team Severe Weather Update with VIPIR RADAR!!!”, followed by hours of live broadcasts from all over the city. It is difficult to describe how ridiculous this is. We live in Wisconsin. It’s cold. It snows, sometimes a lot. Everyone who lives here is accustomed to it. We have been informed by our neighbors that it was only recently that the weather became such a big news item. Of course, the solution is to not watch it. But the hysteria that they whip up has an interesting side effect: it spills over into almost every other form of print and radio news. Winter storm prediction is now a competition to see who can predict the most snowfall or extreme weather. In some cases these predictions have led to school/business closings for storms that failed to materialize at all. A quick stop on the NOAA website will usually yield predictions of between 2 and 5 times less snow than the local news carnival, although these kinds of sensible forecasts get much lower ratings.

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