Last Saturday Pooh and I were sitting in his mama's van waiting for her to fetch us a couple hot drinks from their small-town coffee shop. On a day that, technically, was still supposed to be summer, the morning temp had registered 39.
Pooh had just finished a soccer game that pretty well froze his fingers and ears, and I had tried to keep warm by pacing up and down the sideline while he dribbled and kicked. (Let the record show that he scored the first goal of the game, which his team went on to "win" 5-4.)
With Mama stymied by a long line of frozen soccer fans and slow service, it occurred to Pooh and me that we would be warmer if the side door of the van were closed. (Yes, we are that astute.) But when I got out to shut it. I was reminded that their van doesn't have a push-button door like mine does. I was standing there puzzling over how to close the door when Pooh suddenly yelled, "Pull it!"
I am always amazed by the triggering process whereby some random sensory stimulus pulls a seemingly unrelated thought up into the consciousness. In this case, I immediately associated "Pull it!" with the word pullet, meaning a young chicken.
From there my mind tripped down a neural pathway where I found a long-hidden game my dad used to play with us. Of course, I had to share it with Pooh, so I clambered back to where I could reach him strapped into a back seat and began.
I touched his forehead with a forefinger and said, "Rooster," his nose and said, "Pullet," and his chin and said, "Hen." Then, as Dad did with me many, many times, I went back to his nose and asked, "Now, what did I say this was?"
"Pullet," he said, and I said, "Okay," before giving his nose a little tug. Pooh cackled at the joke in his best chicken fashion--but he didn't know what a pullet is. To get my facts exactly right, I consulted Mr. Google before explaining.
"A pullet is a girl chicken that is not quite one year old," I paraphrased. "She hasn't lost her feathers yet, but she has already started laying eggs." We both pondered this. "It's kind of like a teenage girl chicken," I added.
Pooh marveled that a chicken could be a teenager in just a year. I marveled at the timing of this spontaneous little episode on the day that marked the third anniversary of Dad's passing. It was almost as though he had come back for a moment to laugh and play with us.
I finally got the door shut. The drinks arrived, coffee for me and hot chocolate for him. The magic of the moment was gone, but the memory of it is still as warm and delicious as the first sip of coffee on a cold morning.