STORIES FROM HOME - Chapter Seven
Three worn stone steps led down from the back door to an area that might have once been a kitchen garden. The girls stopped for a moment and looked around inquisitively. A rickety wooden fence still stood around the edges of the yard and the weeds were interrupted here and there by odd-looking bushes and brambles.
A rustling in the bushes closest to the door startled the girls for a second, but fear turned to delight a moment later when the furry, calico cat came purring their way.
“Mr. Cat!” the girls yelled in unison, startling the little animal into scampering away.
Morgan took off running full speed after her friend, only to go sprawling, head-first, over a rock hidden in the overgrowth.
Lying on the ground, she started to cry from the fall, but stopped a moment later when she saw a few bright red dots hidden among the tall weeds.
“Riley! Julia! Come see!”
Her sisters ran to help her up, but instead of taking their hands, Morgan just pointed at what she had discovered.
Julia parted the weeds carefully. She reached down and plucked a bright red strawberry! Her sisters gathered around her and all the girls looked at each other in amazement, then began their treasure hunt for other hidden berries.
As they searched, they pulled many of the tall weeds, and when they were done, they had uncovered a rock-edged strawberry patch. Although most of the berries were not yet ripe, the sisters had still found enough to fill up their tummies and stain their mouth, hands and tongues bright red.
When they looked around the fenced area now, they could see little bits of other rocks peeking through here and there.
“Oh,” breathed Riley, who had always had an artistic eye, “Look! You can see what a beautiful garden this must have been once.”
“Oh,” murmured Julia, who had always had a good imagination, “I bet children came out that back door from the kitchen to pick lettuce for dinner and strawberries for dessert!”
“Oh!” shouted Morgan, who had always been a little impatient, “I’m going to explore!” and she ran across to the little gate in the fence and pushed it open.
What a day those three little girls had! They visited the little blue-mirrored pond again. They were excited to discover a tiny spring bubbling fresh, cold water at the edge of rough, grey rocks surrounding it. They took turns swinging on the old piece of rope dangling down from the giant tree, their heads tipped back and their laughter soaring straight up to the horse-tail cloud decorated sky. Walking around the edge of the woods, their shouts of delight announced discoveries of old metal wheels, a rusty wheelbarrow, and piles of old jars and bottles. A small shed behind the little house caught their interest and contained wonderful things…like some old bicycles, and some chipped, red rocking chairs.
They found a little red barn, and when they slid back the sliding doors the dust-filled air exploded into fireworks of feathers from all the birds roosting in the rafters. And when their hearts quit pounding out of their chests from that surprise, they discovered, hidden behind old stacks of straw bales, a little green tractor, a big pile of beat-up metal buckets, and some rakes and hoes stacked neatly in a cobweb filled corner.
All these exciting discoveries made them laugh and wonder and imagine. They thought they even heard the conversational cacklings of chickens outside the barn and the tiny, meows of newborn kittens.
Throughout the day, the hopeful little house had done its best to see what the children were doing. Although the tall weeds and the cool, lovely summer leaves blocked its view most of the time, every once in awhile the house would happily glimpse a small girl running with delight.
Mesmerized by the happy sounds of children talking and laughing, the hopeful little house barely noticed that the wispy horse-tails had grown into black clouds towering above the mountain at the edge of the woods.
Perhaps long ago the hopeful little house had known that horse-tail clouds almost always mean the weather is going to change. Perhaps the hopeful little house might have remembered the calm voices of a mother and a father discussing an upcoming storm by reciting this rhyme:
“"Mares' tails and mackerel scales
Make tall ships take down their sails."
And perhaps even the children, intent on exploring, may otherwise have paid attention to the distant rumble of thunder, announcing the ominous storm clouds building above them!
But it was only when the sky grew dark and the wind began to blow that the three busy little girls stopped their play to look up.
And it was only moments before fat raindrops began falling onto little girls running for the safety and shelter of a weathered and worn front porch.
To be continued on Tuesday, June 7.
(c) 2010 Jennifer R. Matlock
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