A Tale of the Seasons

by Jackie
JD tells Casey about the seasons back East. Written for Round 2 of the DW Mag7 Daybook Bingo - Prompt "Spring Fever"

Casey sat beside JD at the edge of the lake, enjoying the cool water on her bare feet. The day had been warm and the sun's midday's rays sparkling on the still waters had been too beautiful to resist.

Lying back on the soft grass with a contented sigh, Casey stared at the azure sky and watched the puffy clouds glide along above them. "Do you ever miss your old home?" she asked as JD settled back on his elbows.

Brow furrowed, JD worried at his bottom lip. "I don't miss where I came from so much as the change of seasons."

"We have seasons here. Summer just seems longer," Casey explained. She turned on her side so she could see JD with getting without a crick in her neck.

"Yeah, but they're nothing like the seasons in the northeast," JD replied with a wistful expression on his face. "Would you like to hear about them?"

"You don't have to explain it to me. I know what the seasons are," Casey huffed as she drew aimlessly in the dirt with a twig.

"If you've never been out of the territory then you don't know and what you can read in a book is nothing like it for real." JD settled onto his back and closed his eyes. "Back East the summers can be hotter and steamier than being around the wash pot on laundry day. The air's so thick it feels as if you're breathing water. If you're lucky a thunderstorm will roll through during the afternoon and cool it off, if only for a bit. My ma and her lady friends would go to these garden parties sometimes and she'd drag me along."

JD's mother had attended parties? Casey's hand stilled and she asked excitedly, "Did they wear the pretty dresses with the big hats? Did they have those little finger sandwiches and tea?" Casey was practically bursting with delight while waiting for JD to say something. The silence became uncomfortable as all JD did was chew at his lip and look anywhere but at her. Trying not to show her growing frustration, Casey prodded gently, "Well? Did she dress like Mrs. Standish does?"

Slapping the ground, JD sat up suddenly and blurted, "No! She didn't get to wear the fancy clothes. Ma was a chambermaid and I worked in the stables." Casey wanted to tell JD that it didn't matter who is mother was but he continued on irritably without hardly taking a breath, "When she and some of the other ladies had an afternoon free they'd put a basket together and gather in one of the gardens far from the main house. No pretty dresses and no big hats. She barely got paid enough for us to live on."

Gently placing her hand on JD's arm, Casey gave him a warm smile when he finally turned toward her. "JD there's nothing wrong with putting in an honest day's work. I'm sure she gave you the best times of her life and loved every moment. I was just curious because it sounded so grand the way you said it."

JD blew out a breath. "Sorry. It wasn't an easy life for her." He gave her a sheepish look as he continued, "She and the others called them their garden parties. I hated going but I did love smelling the freshly cut grass coming from those rich homes with the pretty lawns and big ornamental gardens."

"JD," Casey chortled as she went back to her drawing. "We got grass here too."

"I know." JD clamped his lips shut tight until Casey gave him her full attention. Apparently satisfied, he continued. "Fall is when all the leaves turn the most beautiful shades of gold, fiery reds, and oranges. It happens so fast if you blink you'll miss it. One night you climb into bed and all the trees and bushes are normal and the next morning, it's a different world. It's like God got tired of looking at all different greens and needed a change so he reached down with a giant paintbrush."

Casey stared mesmerized as JD stretched out and put his hands behind his head, and rambled on and on about the seasons in the East. He looked so young and carefree with his eyes shut and a wide smile across his face as he spoke about his former home. When he was around the others or in town she noticed JD trying to act older and more like his friends. Casey wished she could have seen half the things the things he spoke about but she'd never even been out of the Territory. How could she compare to someone who'd come from so far away?

"You haven't heard a word I've said have you?" JD asked, his voice startling her back to the present.

"No," Casey stuttered. "Yes! I mean I have been listening. You were talking about burning the leaves, hot apple cider, and bobbing for apples." She'd never admit that she'd been staring at JD like some doe-eyed girl. Just because he had eyes so brown they reminded her of warm melted chocolate and his soothing voice about put her into a trance was no reason to say so.

JD sat up and snatched the stick she'd been using to draw in the dirt. "I was starting to tell you about spring. You missed winter," he grumbled as he tossed the stick away.

Casey smiled coyly at JD. "You don't have to talk about winter. No one likes all the snow anyway."

"You can't have spring without winter. When spring first comes around the early morning air is freezing but it can warm up during the day and that gets the flowers to blooming and the trees leafing out. Let me tell you, it's hard to keep warm when you have to stay outside most of the day and tend the animals. When you have free time or have finished for the day all you want to do is stay in by the fire. I couldn't wait for spring because it meant warm weather and having fun outside when the work was done. Me and my friends would take to running through the gardens, chasing all the rabbits and small animals. The best part though would be when it'd first be getting dark and the spring peepers would come out."

"I never figured you to be catching frogs and running round getting into mischief." Casey grinned.

"Every spring we'd go tearing through the town. Ma called it Spring Fever, said we'd been cooped up too long and needed to sow some of our oats. Had a lot of fun doing it, up until she got sick." JD's face turned somber. "I haven't had that much fun since."

Getting to her feet, Casey held out her and to JD. "I'll make a deal with you." JD appeared to think better of it for a moment but finally took her hand.

"What kinda deal would that be?"

"You keep your head on straight and not get yourself killed, and when spring comes around again I'll go catch frogs with you," she said as JD brushed at the dirt clinging to his clothes and he picked a piece of grass from her hair.

"I was a kid when I did all that. I've got responsibilities now. I got examples to set," JD said as they moved to the horses.

"Don't be such an old fuddy duddy. There's a lot more to Spring Fever than catching frogs. Just ask the rabbits." Casey giggled and urged her horse into a ground-eating canter. She could imagine the scandalized look on JD's face when he finally figured it out.