Waiting through Winter


Tommy stood at the window looking out at the drifted snow. He sighed a long, loud sigh. The snow hadn’t melted a bit since yesterday. He was tired of winter.

“That was a mighty big sigh for a small boy,” Grandpa said.

Tommy looked at Grandpa who had just come into the room. Then he looked back out the window at the snow and said, “I don’t like winter. I can’t go outside and play. The snow just stays in heaps and mounds all over the yard.”

“It does stay snowy and cold,” Grandpa agreed.

“I can’t even fly my kite, it’s so cold and wet outside,” Tommy complained.

Grandpa laughed.

But Tommy was still cross. “I wish I could push winter so far away that it would never come again.”

“Never have winter!” Grandpa was astonished.

“I don’t know what good it is,” Tommy said. “So I wish it would never come again. Then I wouldn’t have to keep waiting through winter.”

Grandpa put his hand on Tommy’s shoulder. “Why don’t you get your coat and cap? The sun is out for awhile and we can go for a walk and see about the winter you don’t like.”

Tommy bundled up and met Grandpa, who smiled at him as they went outside together.

They had gone only as far as the front walk when Grandpa stopped. He pulled a branch of the maple tree down close to Tommy’s face.

“See those shiny brown bumps?” he asked.

Tommy looked closely at the branch and nodded his head.

“Those are leaf buds,” Grandpa said. “The tree is just waiting for the bright sunshine to melt the snow so that the water will go down to its deep roots. Without water, the tree can’t make its leaves open for spring. It would stay bare and brown forever.”

After they had walked a little farther, Grandpa stopped again. This time he bent close to the ground and pushed away the snow. Tommy could see some bright green shoots poking right up out of the ground.

“These are spring crocuses and hyacinths,” Grandpa said. “The snow has already melted deep enough into the soil to wake them up. They’re only waiting for the sunshine to tell them it’s time to grow taller.”

Grandpa pushed the snow back over the shoots and stood up. “Let’s go this way,” he said, pointing up the street.

They had gone only as far as the corner when Grandpa stopped. Beside the wall of a house he showed Tommy a spot of brown earth where the snow had melted.

Grandpa poked at the brown earth. Tommy poked at it too.

“See how soft and damp the soil is already,” Grandpa asked. “It’s just waiting for the sunshine to warm the seeds so they can burst into life.”

Tommy walked beside Grandpa. And Grandpa said, “Soon the snow will melt and make ponds where wild ducks and geese can live. It will fill streams where fish live. And, most important of all, it will melt into water for all of us to drink.”

Tommy nodded his head up and down. He looked at the snow that still lay in heaps and mounds all over the lawn and laughed right out loud.

“Now that I understand how important winter is,” Tommy said, “I won’t mind having to wait through it after all.”

[illustrations] Illustrated by Pat Machin