Spring is different here in Indiana. It took forever. There was still snow on the ground every time I looked. Finally it’s all gone. I didn’t even see it melt.
Even the people are different. They talk different. They say their A's weird. It has a twang when they do it. They don't say "glasses." They say, "glayisses." The first day it snowed, the LuAnne lady across the street came over. She knocked on the door. Bonnie and Curt were gone. Dad was gone. Mom was upstairs. I got the door. She had a weird look on her face.
She said, Look!
It was snowing. First time I ever saw it. She wanted to be first. First one to tell me, because she found out I was from California.
If it sticks, you and your brother can make a snow mayin.
I didn’t know what kind of face to give her. My friend Steve said she was mean. So I just stood there. She just kept looking goofy at me. Till finally I closed the door. That’s when I was excited. Then it was okay to show my being happy, because the LuAnne lady wasn’t watching me for my face now.
Then later when I went door to door, trying to sell raffle tickets for Pleasant Lake school where I started, I knocked on some old people’s house. It was two doors up and across the street from Aunt Bonnie's. The man answered the door and ge was really, super old. He invited me in before I could think of something. I didn’t wanna be mean. There was a woman there now. They moved like air was fighting against them. They wouldn’t let me go. They said for me to sit in a chair. They kept asking me questions I couldn't understand. They were sitting in the opposite chairs. It was in their living room. Every time I said something back, they said, What? Then they wanted to know what I was doing by pointing at me, not by talking now. They kind of just made sounds after that. I tried to tell them a different way. Then they said, What? Till I made something up why I had to go. I got out of there FAST. I quit trying to sell them that day. Who cares about raffle tickets?Aunt Bonnie said those were the Strocks. They were here since some early number year. Nobody warned me.
The bugs are different here, too, but in a good way. Everything is different. Even the weeds are different. There’s big, tall milkweeds in Bonnie’s backyard that I only read about in books before. I remember because monarch butterflies eat those. Then I found some. Monarch caterpillars. Right on there. Just like the book said. There’s none of that in California. And giant orb weaver spiders, big and black and gold all over, bigger than I thought those would be, and their webs are perfect in design, way more perfect than California spiders. The house behind Bonnie and Curt’s has a long, long backyard. It’s the size of a football field. The backyards don’t have fences. You can just go in people’s backyards, nobody even cares. Unless you leave footprints if it's snowing. Once it was spring finally, I found these bugs on these gold-colored flowers. They’re called goldenrod flowers. I looked them up in Dad’s encyclopedias. The bugs on them are called ambush bugs. They’re like tiny praying mantises in the front, but their thorax and their abdomen is shaped like a tiny tank. I spent so much time watching them. The ambush bugs capture their prey like praying mantises, with their arms. But instead of chewing the other bug up, they poke it with their stinger on their mouth. It’s called a proboscis.
The bugs are neat, but the people are weird here.
But most especially, the worms here are incredible. They don’t have worms like this in California. These are called nightcrawlers. They crawl around at night, too. After it rains. They’re EVERYWHERE, and bigger and fatter than any California worms. But the biggest, most surprising thing is, they’re also smart. They can hear you coming. When you’re trying to catch them, they duck back in the ground, right before get there. We go out at night, me and Jorge, after it’s done raining. With Uncle Curt’s flashlight and Dad's flashlight and some buckets with some dirt in it. They’re every, every, everywhere. But you gotta be quick, and you gotta be sneaky. If they hear you, they’ll take off back in their hole. And then, even if you grab it, it’ll just break in half, unless you give up doing tug of war with it. They have tiny bristles that let them grip their holes so you can't pull them out. It’s why we walk on tiptoes. Then we can grab them before they go back in their hole.
Dad and Curt are taking us fishing. Indiana has LOTS of lakes. We can't wait for tomorrow. We always catch stuff. All the fish look different here.
Friday night is for catching our worms, then tomorrow we go. The fish LOVE these. First we start in Bonnie’s backyard, then we go all around. First at the house behind us, then over at Steve Wahl’s. He’s my friend nextdoor. He goes with us sometimes. But he can’t go tomorrow.
I go wherever I see worms, shining around my flashlight on the wet ground in the dark. My bucket makes a tubby sound, back and forth. I hear Jorge. His bucket also sounds tubby. These buckets have metal handles when you walk.
I see Jorge’s flashlight now. He went that way. I am getting worm after worm over here. Here's a GREAT spot. It's a TON of them!
There's a noise and I look up. I’m at that one lady’s house, the one nextdoor to Steve’s. Steve said, Never go there. She's mean. I lost track of where I was.
She is sticking her head out. She has brown hair that’s in curlers. She is in a white night dress. She wants to know. What am I doing. It’s in the dark, I should run.
She said, What’re you doing?!
Sounded like a witch said it.
I don’t know what to say. My brain won’t tell my legs to go. These’re for tomorrow, I don’t wanna drop my nightcrawlers.
My unshaky voice left me. All I have is my shaky voice. She is gonna kill me, but I tell her I’m looking for worms. We are going fishing tomorrow.
Oh, okay, she just said. And then that was it. She just closes her window.
Just like that.
That’s when it hit me. It’s like magic. The people here. You can get out of any kind of trouble, just tell them you’re going fishing if it's spring, or if it's winter, tell them it’s your first time you ever saw snow.