When I was in elementary school, I lived in places where it snowed in the winter.
(As an aside, I am only writing about winter weather today because it has been so freakin’ hot for weeks here in Houston. I’m convinced that even the desert-climate lizards outside are going to die of tiny, lizard heat stroke. This afternoon, I couldn’t put on my sunglasses in the car because, after an afternoon in the closed air of my vehicle, they were so hot that they would burn my face. Humans, especially redheads, were not meant to live in such conditions. Anyway. Onward.)
As a first-grader or so in such places, it was necessary to wear snow pants during long afternoons of fort building. Snow pants are extraordinarily inconvenient if one needs to pee, as they require an untangling and untying and unbuckling that is surely the equivalent of Houdini’s struggles in a straight jacket, but they made up for this trouble with the zzzzp-zzzzp-zzzzp sound they make when you walk.
(Another aside: doesn’t “zzzzp-zzzzp-zzzzp” look like it sounds?)
I had a particularly stylish snowsuit: a bright red number with a big pink strawberry on the front:
What you can’t tell from this fabulous photo is that built into the seemingly innocent strawberry applique is a small zipper pocket. I remember being very concerned about what to put into this pocket. It was obviously meant for something top secret and confidential, perhaps something mildly subversive and dangerous, and yet there really wasn’t anything to be found in the snow-covered front yard of our house in Hoffman Estates, Illinois that warranted zipper-pocket status.
Small pebble of a faint pink color? No.
Button off neighbor child’s coat? Definitely not zipper-pocket material.
Questionable dark spot in snow — perhaps some new specimen of insect or algae, perhaps dog droppings? Too risky to investigate.
I’m not sure I ever found anything worthy of the zipper pocket, but I guess it’s the thrill of looking for something that really made the whole endeavor worthwhile. When you’re five and wearing a bright red snowsuit decorated with an enormous strawberry, every small, snow-filled thicket is an opportunity for super-secret zipper-pocket material. As an adult, you become a little wary of turning over rocks, in case you find an empty Twinkie wrapper instead of something valuable and interesting.
You become much more skeptical that any of those searches will turn up a true find, a rare item you want to slip into the strawberry pocket, where it’s just yours and no one else’s.