Rainy River Press
Publish Date: 12/31/2019
“My story is about anticipation, uncovering what lay ahead, and the reckless abandon of youth as we pursued each day - in the moment.”
Dale A. Swanson
October in Minnesota can be fickle. In 1949, it was warm and not yet ready to yield to the first hard freeze. My birthday was renowned for its beautiful weather. This one marked my seventh year and would stick in my mind for the rest of my life. The party has long been forgotten; the gift, the giver, and the place, however, remain.
We stood on the flagstones laid in freshly worked earth not yet seeded but destined to become a sea of green that will meet the stone edges. Five of us squirmed and fiddled as my father hunkered where the walk met the road and prepared for the launch. A gaggle of boys doing what boys do best, poking and prodding, dodging this way and that to avoid the retaliatory strike.
“You boys ready? Here we go.”
Dad rose from his crouched position and took a few hurried steps. Amid a hiss and muted scream, the rocket jetted upward. Up, up it went into the azure autumn sky. At the very pinnacle, when it remained stationary for what seemed like minutes, the miracle happened. A small parachute popped out of the nose, filled with air, and the rocket drifted down.
As much as the ascension impressed, my mind sees the blue sky behind the gift, the blue that ended abruptly when cut off by the crimson and gold adorning the October trees opposite the road.
It drifted; swinging on tethering strings from the cloud above, and disappeared behind the hedge marking our property. With a gleeful ‘yip,’ amid much shouting and confusion, we charged, each of us intent on being the first to the prize.
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