Muddy Monday

Romanced by the sun-warmed earth, I shed boots to squeeze mud through toes in the North Dakota spring. My mother was busy, and I quietly disobeyed. A million crystals exploded underneath running feet, crushed into the wet brown soil. I remember the burn as feet chilled in the running, slowly turning to wood as they froze. Mama bathed those brown toes in the kitchen sink, me sitting on the counter, 4 year old contrite. She wrapped me in the red and black polyester pills of the blanket that always smelled of Grandpa, no matter how many times it was used or washed. I was shivering when my Papa asked me if I was warm enough for Dairy Queen. I tried to grit my teeth to stop the shaking, but to no avail. He took the boys, and Mama and I stayed home. I could feel her concern mixed with anger. She read, I shook.

They came home with my favorite, a Peanut Buster Parfait. Later that night, I was finally warm enough to eat the cold treat. Mixed up in the memory, the smell of my grandfather, the crunchy peanuts, my mother's forgiveness, a father's love.