The dock had snapped in two like a twig. The deck at Blue Cottage had all of its usefulness crushed out of it. The memories associated with both were all that remained. I held Kennys hand while Peter inspected the damage. He climbed atop broken ice and rocks. And he didn’t need me telling him to be careful. Today the place looked like a disaster area. In a few months time, the remains would be buried under more ice and more snow. Peter tried not to show it but this relatively simple act of nature had hurt him.
“I had been on the dock when I decided to propose, and when I decided to get the ring. It was where I went when I needed to think. To mull things over. I’m going to miss it and the deck. When the spring comes I’ll clean up what I can but I won’t rebuild. I’ll let the new owners do that. They may want something completely different from what I have in mind. Part of Casa Christopher is gone but it will be back. Just not here.”
I didn’t know it at the time but Peter had already started thinking of a replacement dock/deck for Blue Cottage. He was not a man to moan about what Mother Nature had taken from him. He wanted to create. He tried to change the gloomy mood. and tossed a fluffy snowball at me. Actually, I’m not one hundred percent sure if the snowball was meant for me or Kenny. Peter was an awful shot.
“Who wants to get the mail with me,” he asked trying to put a brave face on. I reminded Peter the road had not been plowed since Christmas and wouldn’t plowed until after New Years. “We can’t go by car. We’re snowed in.” I added.
“Then we’ll have to hoof it.” Peter reached into the wood bin where he kept wood safe from the elements and pulled out his snowshoes. He reached in a second time and pulled out mine. It was then I remembered about Kenny and I pointed at him.
“What about me? what about me?” he repeated excitedly.
“You, Master Willowby, get something very special,” said Peter.
Peter opened the wood bin again and tugged on a small package that had frozen to the wood. I could hear the sound of wrapping paper tear. All of sudden a very strange looking package I knew nothing about appeared.
“This is your new years present from us to you. We can’t be with you on New Years Day so you get your New Years present today. You get your very own pair of snowshoes.” he told Kenny.
They were certainly something a ten-year-old boy would wear. The snowshoes were blue with plastic straps in the most revolting shade of green. But the feature that would appeal to Kenny the most was the tread. It was designed to leave the imprint of a bears paw complete with claws. Peter gave the package to Kenny then bowed.
“From Princess Jasmine and the grumpy old bear to his Lordship Kenneth Willowby.”
Kenny tore the wrapping paper and the plastic bag beneath it to shreds in seconds. He pushed his boots into the plastic straps and all was right with the world. He could now walk on top of the snow drifts instead of sinking into them. And his footprint really did look like that of a bear. And a big one at that too.
“Alright! You two are the best! Thank you” Kenny exclaimed loudly.
Kenny started hugging my legs so ferociously I almost fell on top of him. While I struggled to keep my balance by hanging on to the door frame Kenny lunged at Peter.
“Thank you old man.” He tackled Peter and pushed him into a snow drift.
Kenny caught Peter right in the mid-section which winded him and knocked him into a snowdrift which buried him. Snow found its way up the back of Peters jacket. When he stood up he took his jacket off and shook like a dog which made Kenny laugh. Snow flew in all directions. It was difficult for Peter to get angry at Kenny but he found a way of making his displeasure known. Just how effective it would remain to be seen.
“Do that again young cub and I’ll tuck you under my arm. And you’ll go to the mailbox that way. Don’t forget I’m a grouchy old bear.”
Walking on top of the snow was a new experience for Kenny. One he quickly got used to. He really seemed to enjoy making tracks in the snow. I’m not quite sure how he did it but he figured out just what he had to do by watching Peter and me. This particular day was one of the happiest for me. I knew Peter and I weren’t married yet, and I knew we didn’t have a son, yet I couldn’t help but feel like we were a family. It was a warm feeling. And I wanted it to become reality very, very badly.
The old man was quickly outpaced by the young cub. When we got to the mailbox Kenny thought it looked strange. It did look strange and the story of it was just as strange.
“This doesn’t look like any mail box I’ve ever seen. I’ve pictures of mailboxes from all over the world and it doesn’t look like any of them. In England, people put letters inside a mailbox that looks like a pipe!”
Peter took over the “educational” portion of our walk.
“Before you Kenny is a Canada Post Superbox. Truly a marvel of engineering. It lets the rain in, it lets the snow in, and occasionally it allows humans to get into those smaller areas. The dents on its skin show Canada Post just how much punishment it can take. During winter the locks on the smaller areas freeze and we have to beat it to truly show our feelings for it or Canada Post.” When he ended Kenny looked at me.
“Was Uncle Peter trying to be funny Aunt Cassie?” Asked Kenny.
“Yes, he was” was all I could say.
“Was that what grandpa calls sarcasm?”
“Yes, sweetie. That’s what you heard.”
After Peter got the mail Kenny started stomping on the snow. Peter looked a little dejected at his poorly received performance. He quietly said, “I thought some of it was funny.” He looked at me for confirmation. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings so I simply shook my head. “Really? That bad?”. I looked into his eyes.”It wasn’t all that bad. Just don’t give up your day job.”
When we returned to the cottage Peter asked Kenny if he’d like to help him in a little research. This was pre-planned and would give Kenny something to do till he had to go home. I suggested to Peter that Kenny assist in the honeymoon plans. It was something I would normally do. Peter unlocked the door to his study. Then he looked at Kenny and whispered at him.
“This is the room where I do most of my work. Most of the time I’m writing, but sometimes when I have to pay a bill I do it in my study. I want to start a very special project today. A project so special you mustn’t tell your Aunt Cassie. Let’s call it Project Sord”
“Why can’t Cassie know about it?” asked Kenny anxious to know the answer.
“When a man loves a woman and the woman loves the man sometimes they get married. That is a very special ceremony called a wedding. And after the wedding, the man and the woman go on a holiday together and that’s called a honeymoon. Cassie and I have talked about where we would like to go on our honeymoon. We both like some islands in the Bahamas. I’d like to do is some research on an island called Andros. It might be a lot of work for just one person and I was wondering if you’d be interested in helping me because I’d like this to be a surprise.”
Kenny looked at Peter with some skepticism. Then he scratched his head. After that he put his hands on his hips and looked sternly at Peter.
“Let me get this straight. You’re saying you love my Aunt Cassie?” he asked wondering about Peter.
“More than you’ll ever know” replied Peter. Peter told me later he felt he was asking for Kennys permission to marry me.
“And you want to go on a holiday with her after you two get married,” he asked with narrow eyes.
“Yes, I do. And I hope on this very special holiday she’ll be very happy.” Sweat had started to form on Peters brow. This was proving to be more difficult than he thought. Kenny crossed his arms, scowled and tilted his head back a bit while looking at Peter. With the scowl, Peter thought Kenny looked like some sort of big named TV lawyer. Finally, he gave Peter his answer.
“Is she still going to be my aunt after the honeymoon?” asked Kenny.
“Of course she is. And I’m still going to be your uncle.”
Kenny started squinting at Peter. “Well, I suppose so. You just take care of her or you’ll have me to answer to. Well, let’s get going. Times a wasting.” Kenny sauntered into the study like he owned the place. Peter was sure Kenny was repeating something he had heard his grandfather say.
Peter put a large atlas on his gunmetal gray desk. Kenny was short for his age and the top of his head was barely above the surface of the desk. Peter lifted Kenny up and put him on top of the desk. He soon sat down on the desk and looked at the large atlas.
“What ocean is Andros island in Kenny?”
“Atlantic Ocean Uncle Peter”
“Can you tell me the names of the major islands?”
“Well, according to this really big book they’re called North Andros, South Andros, and Mangrove Cay. I think the word is pronounced cay like the letter K.” Peter got up from the computer and looked at the map.
“Not bad. That word would have stumped even me.” Peter smiled at Kenny and tussled his hair. Those two were getting along really well. Kenny really felt like he was doing something important. They didn’t even notice me in the doorway. This was another reason that made the day so special. Peter had become part of Kennys world with the slot cars and Kenny had become part of Peters world by helping with the honeymoon preparations.
Kenny insisted on wearing his snowshoes home. Peter said he had some more research to do and had to stay in Casa Christopher. It was two in the afternoon when Kenny was bundled into his snowsuit. Once he was in the car and buckled in we were off. Kenny spent most the time in the MG admiring his bear paw snowshoes. It wasn’t snowing so the trip was a lot more enjoyable. As we neared Chez Willowby Kenny suggested I park far away from the house so he could show off his new snowshoes. It was a sneaky idea and I really liked it. As we came up the drive I noticed Wilma standing in the doorway. I parked far away from the house so Kenny could do his thing. As soon as the car came to a stop he opened the car door and showed his grandmother the bottoms of his feet. I could well imagine what went through Wilma’s head.
“Oh my lord. What have they done to my boy?.”
As we neared the porch Kenny explained that we gave him the snowshoes as a New Years present. Then I confessed to Wilma. “Would it surprise you if I told you I wanted to keep that adorable little boy.”
Wilma was flattered. “No, it wouldn’t. It’s what I call the Kenny effect. When Bill and I started taking care of him I felt the very same thing. I think it’s something only a woman can feel. What did Peter have to say about that request?”
“He did his best to talk me out of it. He thought I should experience everything that goes with motherhood. The good and the not so good. But bringing him back today was really hard. Much harder than I thought it would feel.”
“How did Peter do in the Uncle department?” she asked.
“He did wonderfully. He surprised even me. I think Kenny is going to have a fantastic uncle. It’s like Peter had it in him all the time. He’s very protective of Kenny and Kennys perfectly comfortable in his arms. And you were right about getting a small visitor in bed too.” I showed her the photo of both of them asleep. “When Kenny first entered our bedroom Peter was snoring and he said Peter sounded like a “grumpy old bear”.
Wilma started to blush a bit.
“Oh, the little devil. How did Peter react to that particular name?” she asked.
“No need to worry. Peter calls him “Young cub”. Seeing those together is…well it’s like they meant to be uncle and nephew. I think Peter hopes we have a son just like Kenny. Can I tell you something in confidence?. From woman to woman?”
“That little boy is the cure for insomnia. You don’t have to count pills with him around. Peter and I are really going to sleep tonight.” Wilma started laughing and snorting. She covered her mouth. “Sounds like he gave you two a real workout. Can I please tell Bill what you said? It was just priceless.”
“Sure thing. I don’t suppose that’s a secret. I can’t speak for Peter but I can hardly wait till we get Kenny again. I think Peter wanted to keep him too but don’t quote me on that. But I think it’s safe to say he wants him back very soon.”
Wilma was quiet for a while like she was trying to decide whether or not to say something.
“I’ve got a feeling you’ll soon have your own little one that you won’t have to bring back. The only drawback with that is that we lose great babysitters.”
Now it was my turn to be quiet. “I hope you’re right Wilma. I really do.”
….more to come