Annual Treat

When I was a child, I used to look forward every year to Washington’s Birthday. Not that I was a big fan of George’s, mind you. I was too young to know anything about our first president other than the fact that he never told a lie. This virtue was almost beyond my comprehension, for, even as a six-year-old, I knew that always telling the truth was nearly impossible for morally unformed people such as children, let alone politicians.

In any case, what I liked about George’s birthday was that every year, a local ice cream maker made a few batches of vanilla ice cream laced with ripe cherries. I still remember that lovely ice cream, the tartness of the cherries, the smooth sweetness of the vanilla, the icy coldness melting to cream in my mouth.

The treat was available for only a few days a year, and then it was gone, not to return for 360 long days, an eternity for a child.

I was reminded of those days recently when three Blue-winged Teals showed up at the Fill. Blue-winged Teals are shy ducks of the summer who come to our state from South America. The males have spectacular heads of gun-metal gray accented with dramatic white crescents in front of their eyes. They breed in the open-country wetlands of Eastern Washington and stay at the Fill for only a day or two. I don’t see them every year, and when I do, I know my eyes get big, my mouth makes a silent O, and I am a child once again, savoring a treat that doesn’t last long but is all the sweeter for that.

In this age of global trade, where the need to wait for treats has been banished, it is good to be reminded that the Earth still does turn, time passes, and the seasons are fleeting. We must seize the moment and delight in each day.