'First, there will be snow,' Smalls told me the other day. 'And then it will be Christmas. And then Santa Claus will come with presents.'
Unfortunately for him, this December seems to believe it is March, and there hasn't been a single flake of snow for at least a week.
I was trying to think of a good Christmassy story, and perhaps the lack of snow is why I keep thinking of the spring.
This past spring was very rough for me - a late-ish miscarriage followed very closely by an unexpected bad diagnosis for my dear old dad. And so, in an effort to keep myself sane, I spent a lot of time working on our garden.
One of the key attractions in our little village is a trade/vocational school where students focus on practical avenues of study such as mechanics and horticulture. In the spring, the school lets some of the students co-run a little nursery shop in a series of sheds and greenhouses on the school grounds.
I'd heard that the plants were both healthy and cheap, so I set out with Smalls one morning to investigate.
The students of the trade school can generally be identified as the loiterers at the bus stop, smoking a variety of substances and giving each other piggy back rides while squawking loudly.
Smalls, of course, finds them fascinating.
I was poking around the collection of sheds when one of the roughest of the students came sauntering up.
'Dobrý den,' he said. And then he said something else that I didn't quite understand. Possibly, I was too dazzled by the multitude of piercing sparkling on his face.
'Omlouvám se...' I began with a touch of desperation.
'Ah, English?' He said.
'Hmmm, today.......now.......no,' he said, searching for the words and picking them with apologetic care. 'Zitra.....tomorrow?.....yes, tomorrow. Tomorrow, yes.'
I thanked him. He smiled and waved.
The next morning, true to his word, he was there again and the shop was open. He helped me pick out some plants and gave me some advice about where to put them.
'Tohle je lepší. Better. This one.'
At the end, he tallied up my purchases, then ran back to the greenhouse and returned with two cosmos that I had been eyeing up, but had passed over since I wasn't quite sure where to put them.
'To jsou velmi dobré. Good. Many....flowers,' he said with a soft smile. 'A zdarma pro vás. No....money.'
My two free cosmos found a very nice home in my front garden and bloomed all summer and late into the fall. A cheery reminder of unexpected kindnesses whenever I went through the front gate.
I haven't seen him around the village lately, with his scruffy hair, his collection of piercings, his shy smile, and lines of scars on his inner arm.
I hope things are going well for him and that he also has had someone give him just what he needed 'zdarma, no money' at a time when he maybe didn't realise how much he needed it.
And that is my unseasonable-seasonable story. May all of you be as lucky as I have been to receive perfect presents throughout the year. Merry Christmas!