When my daughter Hannah was three she had her own way of looking at things. She could conquer you with her eyes and melt a salty soul with her laugh. But for all her power she never sought to use them. If she had asked for the moon I fear I would have spent the rest of my life trying to bring it down.
It was in the depth of a mid-western winter with a cold so strong that with every breath came a cough caused by forming icicles stabbing the tender throat and settling heavy in the lungs. She who rarely asked for anything had had enough.
“Why won’t summer come?” she asked.
I hesitated in my answer. I had been ready to go off on a spiel explaining orbits and tilted axis. But I knew this would not satisfy her. So I saved that lesson for another day and instead decided to foster her imagination; a task that had become an important hobby of mine.
“Summer and winter are not friends,” I told her, “they have been fighting for a long long time. The only thing they can seem to agree on is that each of them should be able to pay their fair visit to the entire world. They are on an eternal vacation you see, and right now summer is enjoying its stay elsewhere.”
“Well,” she said after a moment’s thought, “I’d like winter to leave.”
“I wish it were that simple hun,” I said with a smile, “but we cannot control the weather.”
“We should at least see if it will listen.”
She looked at me with her sweet blue eyes and the only thing I could do was agree. We spent the next several minutes imploring the heavens for more favorable weather.
The next day it was warmer. The next day she was happier.
Now she is nine and at one point during the recent cold snap I could hear her talking to the sky, telling winter to leave. When I bent down to tell her how it all actually worked she cut me off.
“I know daddy,” she said seriously, “the earth is tilted, but sometimes it’s just better to think like a kid.”
I think she may be on to something.