by Michelle Tuesday
Sammy, the little wolf-pup, loved to frolic in the sunshine and roll in the grass. It was his favorite time of day, when the trainer threw balls around for him to chase and catch. He especially liked the little light-up ball, the one that flickered every time it landed. Sammy would pick that one up and flick his head, firing the ball up and over his back, so he would have to twist to see where it landed. Sometimes, the lion cubs on the other side of the fence would wander near his pen, and Sammy would go crazy, growling and barking, showing them how mean he was. It was so much fun!
Lately, frolic time was getting weirder.
“Mom!” he cried, running back into the den. Mrs. Wolf opened one eye and peeked at her pup.
“Yes, dear?” she asked, yawning.
“You know how I said the grass was getting hard? You know? How I said that yesterday? Like how it sort of turned whitish, and how it itches and pokes when I roll around? Huh? Huh?”
“Darling, I told you yesterday. That’s frost. It happens when it grows cold outside.”
“Right. Yeah, that’s right. Frost. When it gets cold. But Mom! There’s some kind of crazy going on out there right now. You gotta check it out, Mom!”
“Darling, you know I don’t like to get up when I’m napping.”
“But, Mom! It’s so weird! And Mom! I really gotta pee.”
“So go do it.”
“I can’t! It’s so big and scary! And I can’t even get to any of the trees! There’s this… I don’t know what it is. I’m scared! It’s so weird. I can’t get to the trees. Moooooommmm, I gotta pee!”
Mrs. Wolf yawned again, opening her jaws as wide as they could go and shaking her head. Then she stood and stretched her back.
“Come on, darling. Let’s see what this fuss is about.”
She followed Sammy out of the den and into the yard. She looked around at the dazzling white landscape, her eyes wide.
“What is it, Mom? What’s that white stuff? How do I get to the tree? I gotta pee sooooo baaaaaad!” Sammy looked across the sparkling field to his favorite tree, hopping and standing on his hind legs. It looked miles and miles away, across a barren field of glitter.
“It’s snow! I remember it from my childhood, but in all the years I’ve been at Santa Barbara, I’ve never seen it here.”
“What’s snow? Will it eat me? I’m scared! It’s so high!”
Mrs. Wolf chuckled. “No, my darling. It won’t eat you. It’s just frozen water. Will water eat you?”
“I dunno, Mom. What’s frozen mean? Does frozen eat you?”
“No, Sammy. It’s just very cold water. You know how the grass gets hard when it’s cold? Water gets hard, too.”
“Oh! So it’s hard? Can I climb over it and get to the tree?”
“No, sweetheart. When water gets hard, it’s called ice. This is snow. It’s like ice, but all crushed up into tiny little pieces. If you try to walk on top of it, you’ll fall in.”
Sammy’s eyes grew to the size of his Mama’s paws, and his jaw dropped, exposing a sharp rows of baby wolf teeth.
“It’s okay, though. You can walk through it. It won’t hurt you. It’s just cold. It’s actually sort of fun.”
Sammy stared at the sea of white. He reached one tentative paw toward the edge, and then yanked it back.
“No way, Mom. You do it.”
Mrs. Wolf chuckled again. She plowed her large body through the snow, heading toward Sammy’s tree. In her wake, she left a path large enough for Sammy to walk in.
“Yay!” cried Sammy, following behind his mom. He lifted his leg and peed on the tree. He sighed, his body relaxing in relief as an entire bowl of water poured out of him.
“Now you walk through the snow,” said Mrs. Wolf.
His mom had done it. Could it be so bad? So Sammy tried walking through the white stuff. It was powdery, and it separated all around him, burying him underneath the glittery white goodness. He could see the faint light of the sun illuminating the ceiling of white above his head. He dug up through the snow in the direction of the light and popped up on top of a bank.
“Oh, my gosh! I can dig in it!”
And so he dug. He dug and he burrowed, and he tossed the snow all around. He wagged his tail, wiggled his bottom and dove into a large pile. He ran and he played, and when his trainer showed up, he buried his ball and watched it glow under the snow. When it stopped flickering, he dug it back up, tossed it over his back until it flickered, and buried it again. And it was the best frolic time of his whole entire life.
After an hour or so, he dragged himself back into the den, cold, wet and muddy. He shook out his fur, spraying the room with mist.
“Mom?” he said, curling up next to her with a yawn.
“Yes, dear?” replied Mrs. Wolf, in the middle of her own yawn.
“I like snow.”
“I knew you would, dear.”