But while I tasted the sweet teasing of my Autumn in apples, pears and pumpkin bread, crunched through it on curly yellow leaves and dropped nuts, Summer Court held on as though it would never have another turn. In the last two weeks, the blue of the sky was not crisp. It looked like you could dip your hand in it's luke-warm depth and swirl it around to make ripples wriggle across it like some kind of summer swimming hole. I had to shake a finger at it and tell them SHAME! After all, it is November. Winter starts in just a few weeks. Alas, the sky just smiled through it's ripples and I had no choice but to let my children revert to their barefoot, bare armed ways as they brought me, by the minute, dandelions and "blowing flowers."
Not 4 days ago, a field of these fairy umbrellas fluffed across our yard as though they were snow drops that refused to melt. Silly summer fairies trying to emulate our snowflake pixies. Summer has it's beauties. Summer has it's promises of a fertile mother earth with colors and flowers in shapes that should be impossible. They do a lot of things that stimulate and represent change for the better, transcendence and hope for the future. But there is nothing they have that can quite meet the perfect stillness and immaculate peace of an evening spent in the silence of falling snow.
But these puffs of cotton clearly belong to summer, and so it was that I began to wonder where my handsome, impish, delightful winter friend could be. How long would I ache for his arrival? How long would I yearn for his scent to numb my nostrils and turn my breath to white, smoky curls of air heated by my body, only to be replaced with the cold North Wind himself?
On Sunday, my girls and I walked our way to church and took our coats off half way there because it was too warm. On the way home, they ran across grass and plucked up purple pansies that continue to grow in my front garden despite my refusal to tend the beds. And there was nothing else to do but wait. One cannot rush Jack Frost. One can always rely on him to show up and create the doorway for winter. But he is a rogue. He is the stuff of Holiday romance and the subtle freshness of kissing. He is some kind of seducer, and we would all gladly have him.
Jack can also be permanently relied upon to leave. He is fickle, and his stay is short and unannounced. One must be constantly aware in order to catch him. And then his presence is precious and fleeting.
This morning, stumbling down the stairs at dawn with my children already rowdy as they dragged their blankets, teddy bears, baby dolls, and light sabers to the breakfast table, my skin was stung with the intense cold of a winter morning. I was near shaking with excitement as I poured coco puffs and milk into plastic bowls before running to the back door. My excuse was that my dog needed to go out, but in reality, I was looking for him. I knew his feeling from a thousand visits. I knew his smell and his hands along my skin. And I felt positively scandalous as my dog crunch-crunched his soft padded paws across the yard, wetting his fur with the dew of my one and only Jack Frost. Within the hour, though the sting of the air clung on, the white fuzz on the grass was gone, and droplets gleamed like diamonds in it's place.
I of course, being of Fae blood, have been graced with Jack's human form more than once. A reliable description would be that of Peter Pan's, though Jack is several years older, a mature, but young and spritely figure with wild eyes of ice blue, a sharp nose, and hair the color of an orange flame on the hearth, soft and out of control below a hood of goblin-make, brown and the green of fir trees. His ears are long and come to a point. He has an impish gap between his two front teeth, with which he whistles like a bird that sits among the ice encased branches of a tree that has shed all it's leaves. But Jack does not fly. He dons no wings. Instead, he leaps, blithe and graceful, in long bounds. I've seen him. And you, though likely strictly human, have probably seen him too.
Animals, of course, are magical creatures. Every single one of them from the great birds of prey to the tiniest of beetles. Every culture has tales. Every belief system hails it. But deer, in the winter, are the most magical of all. (There are many very specific reasons that Santa Claus uses deer as opposed to horses or oxen or wolves, or any other number of magical creatures. But that is a story yet to come.)
Jack Frost is a nocturnal creature. When the sun goes down, he will rest his ice across the ground, among branches, and over roads. And in the morning, he lets the sun drink it up. But he is everywhere. And when you drive in the early morning down a lonely road and see deer in the grass of a wide field, cloaked with a low rippling of clear, white fog. That is our friend Jack Frost. The young buck who puffs his chest out, unafraid and unyielding, all the while meeting his eyes to yours. And then he leaps away, hanging in the air just a smidgen too long as though he could fly away like a robin from a cold nest. Remember it, friends. This is his season.