The celebratory feeling had simply left March 20th. It was the first day of Spring, Jasper’s birthday, and it was supposed to be a fun time of year. But he couldn’t feel good about it any more.
He took his melancholy out the back door. He needed a break from the party his mother put together for him. His older brother and cousins were there, but he needed a little privacy from the noise inside the kitchen. Everyone else seemed to push the memories of his grandfather out of their minds, even if temporarily, but it felt disloyal to go along with them. Jasper wanted to still suffer the grief of Grandpa’s passing and keep the pain fresh in his heart. Holding it there made the patriarch’s life still seem palpable.
As it was, nothing much seemed worth celebrating. Jasper went to search for his grandfather’s essence there in the fields, as if he’d spied the man’s spectral presence out in the windrows of snow. He gazed out at the pastures of Grateful Acres, as the farm was ironically called, and saw a berm of snow hiding behind the shade of a pine row. The white stripe outlined the strip of hearty trees, bald on one side and flocked on the other. Such a barren landscape.
Spring couldn’t come soon enough.
To the south, two black bulls lay assessing each other from opposite sides of a barbed wire fence. Conserving their body heat was more important than sparring off at that moment. An uncle kept up the family’s legacy in part by tending the livestock that once belonged to his father.
Grandpa had gone out to check his cows after a particularly cold night, a calf’s birth being only a few days past. He trekked down a gully, perhaps looking after a cow in trouble, and must have made no notice of his old tractor’s precipitous perch when he dismounted. It had gone rogue, rolled down the hill, and struck him dead. One of the boys went to call him inside for Jasper’s last party and discovered him there in the snow, his lips already blue.
Why a man his age had still tried to actively farm was anyone’s guess.
The offending tractor sat lonesome behind the shed out back. It hadn’t been driven again since the accident.
Grandpa had been gone for a year, his death unfortunately coinciding with the anniversary of Jasper’s birth. Jasper could hear the guests talking and laughing back in the house, the party moving blissfully along, but their happiness betrayed his emotions. It was like wet confetti at a New Year’s Day parade. A sucker punch when he turned to kiss a girl. He couldn’t muster up even an inkling of happiness.
Jasper still missed his grandfather so much, and the snow only intensified that sorrow. A ubiquitous misery.
He wondered if it snowed the day he was born.
*This post was prompted by Kelly’s line, like wet confetti at a New Year’s Day parade, at Studio 30 Plus.