A year and a half ago, a couple was trying to sell their home in the Red Feather Lakes region (on the Front Range near Fort Collins) to no success. So instead they created an essay contest with a $100 entry fee and 500 word limit, and once they had 2,000 entries they would pick the best one and award that person the house. I did actually enter, writing the following essay with this particular cause in mind. Eventually they did not make the necessary number of entries and so returned all the entry fees and put the house back on the market. Anyway, here was my attempt. Think I had a chance?
Why are there afternoons around if not for yellow slanted light on the living room floor to warm a sprawling newspaper and a dreaming dog? That kind of light makes everyone want to nap. Everyone, that is, except for the one who will be playing barefoot outside on the swing-set no matter what you do. That’s the same one who will want to play with the hose or fill up the pool on the first day of the year that it might reach eighty. However, after the cajoling, convincing, and promising, inevitably this one will run back inside, shivering and a slight shade of blue, within twenty minutes of getting exactly what they wanted.
Beds will always be jumped on at least three times before mom comes back in the room, and the newly installed carpet in the living room is for wrestling dads newly returned from a long day at the office. Unfortunately, the kitchen counter will loom at the exact height of a good bump on the head for years and while the pantry is definitely there for sneaking snacks, it might also be the perfect you’ll-never-find-me-here spot. If the windows are clear and shiny, it is only because no one has gotten around to smushing their face against them, and if there aren’t eight pairs of shoes to trip over in front of the door it is only because no one has come back inside yet.
The only reason there are pine trees around is for burning their fallen needles with a magnifying glass when no one is looking, or possibly so that the midday sun can bake the sleepy scent of sap from them before the wind picks up. Creeks must have makeshift boats and shoes floated down them, with or without strings attached. “Be back before dark” is another way of dad saying he will have to hike out to the ‘secret cave’ fifteen minutes after sunset to remind everyone about dinner. Whenever driving is involved there will be seventeen different state license plates spotted and twenty-three punching-no-punch-backs dealt out, along with a good chance of arguing over the radio station.
Lakes are around for everything.
The first real day of spring is the first day that all the windows are opened to let in a golden glow of fresh air which is the exact temperature of your favorite day from last year. School canceled for snow means pancakes for breakfast. The rest of the year is only a certain number of days away from Christmas or the next birthday (at least until 22). And just to make sure nothing is missed, it may be necessary to wake up early on Saturdays for the best cartoons, and to nap that afternoon in yellow slanted light. Unless, of course, I have take my shoes off and hunt for crayfish until my toes go numb.