My brother Mark is a scientist. He has liked discovering things since childhood. One day, when we were kids, he called me to his room. I saw him sitting on the couch, and a strange pile of fluff, like cotton balls, was next to him. I thought he had ripped open a pillow.
"Wanna see a trick?" Mark giggled, and showed to me a small brown tube. I looked closer. It was a bit of cattail. My brother started pinching out the flowers. I gasped with delight and surprise; those small pieces became fluff.
"Let me try!" I grabbed the next cattail. I could not understand how it was possible; how inside that small thing such big bulk could hide. We pinched and pinched, and piles of fluff grew. When we finished one we would take the next flower. We tried to find out if all the cattails were the same.
This new game captured us. Our dog Bertha came to us. The dog smelled the fluff, and started sneezing. Then Bertha tried to bite the fluff. Her mouth was stuffed with the cattail flowers, and from time to time the dog shook its head. Bertha choked, barked and growled. We laughed at Bertha and at each other.
Mark still pinched cattails, and I grabbed some fluff and threw them at my brother. We started a snow-fight. Well, it looked like a snow-fight. For us the funniest part was that it was autumn and not winter. The sunshine lit up our room, it was hot here and we were enjoying the game.
Suddenly someone opened the door, and the draught blew the fluffs up. "Snow storm!" we exclaimed together.
"Kids..." we heard, and turned toward the sound. Our mother was standing in the doorway, and looked around with horror. "What on Earth is going on here?"
"Mom, look!" Mark rushed to our mother. He still was pinching the cattails. Mom watched, shocked, for a while, then went to the couch sat on it and laughed hysterically. "I thought it was real snow," she explained, "I thought I had lost my mind." And she hugged us.
* * *
This happened almost twenty years ago. Why did I recall this event now? When I went into the living room, my daughter ran to me, and showed a small cassette from my answering machine. She had unrolled the entire tape. "Look, how inside that small thing such big bulk could be hidden!" she exclaimed, still taking the tape out. I realized that all recorded messages were gone, but it was not important to me. I took my daughter into my arms, and told her this story.
* * *
My dear mother! Thank you for the fact that you did not scold us that day. My brother did not lose his love for exploring. I understood the feelings of my daughter. In that hot autumn day, Mark and I both got a wonderful lesson in patience and love.
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