TALES FROM HOME - Chapter Fourteen
As late spring turned into early summer and the girls continued to make new discoveries, the happy little house at the edge of the pond, at the edge of a woods, at the edge of a mountain was filled with joyful excitement.
In some ways, it felt like the girls had been in the house forever. The boards and the bricks and the stones were once again filled with laughter and love; the sisters felt happy and safe. It was only on a few gray and rainy afternoons they remembered the sadder days when their lives had been filled with worry and walking and uncertainty.
But when the sun shone, a cool breeze blew and the ground was dappled in shade by the lovely summer leaves, living in the happy little house felt like an adventure.
Although the other bedrooms had been cleaned and scrubbed, the three sisters continued to share the room they’d slept in when they first discovered the sad little house.
As soon as the pearly morning light from the eastern sky lit the faded pink roses in the bedroom, the three girls eagerly leaped out of bed and raced to the window. Even though summer leaves made it impossible to see the blue-mirrored water of the pond now, the view from that window made the girls stand quietly for just a tiny moment. Perhaps in the still silence of that instant, the sisters were letting their hearts say a small prayer that things would always feel this perfect. Or perhaps they were merely planning what adventure would fill their day.
Whatever the reason for the quiet moment, it was always short-lived. The bed was quickly made, the old-fashioned nightgowns were folded underneath plump pillows and the girls quickly dressed themselves in faded play clothes.
Although the doors to the two other bedrooms with faded yellow rose and pale purple violet wallpaper stood open, the sisters always hurried past the rooms without even bothering to look inside.
If they’d taken a moment, they would have seen how the old furniture that Julia had carefully dusted gleamed in the happy sunshine from the now clean and sparkling windows. They might have remembered their excitement when they realized the dresser drawers in each room had been filled with old children’s clothes. Surely they would have smiled at the thought of soapy water splashing from the old washtub as the clothes had been washed and then dried in the hot summer sunshine.
If they had taken a small step inside the violet wallpapered room, they might have recalled their excitement when they found the lovely, faded quilts hidden inside the large trunk under the window. What fun it was unfolding each and looking at the rainbow of colors. Each girl had finally selected their favorite and taken it downstairs to cuddle under when the nights were rain-filled and breezy.
Julia had cleaned most of the upstairs of the house by herself; Riley and Morgan had grudgingly helped her with a few bigger things. Each time the girls ran down the staircase in the morning they smiled, remembering how the happy little house had been filled with chaos and clatter and the chatter of small children when they had bump-bump-bumped the old mattresses down the stairs and hauled them outside. The sun and cool breezes had done their magic and now the beds smelled like a summer’s day.
The entry way was now swept clean and cluttered, once again, with shoes and backpacks. Riley had dragged a small bench downstairs from the yellow flowered bedroom and it now held two perfect blue jay feathers, a small nest blown from a tree, the remnants of three sky blue eggs and handfuls of sparkling rocks. The girls had gathered each beautiful object and placed them there for safekeeping.
The girls spent time in the living room every evening. The treasured quilts tumbled here and there over the old fashioned, dark green couch whose cushions were now dust-free and cozy. A small pile of books was stacked on each arm of the couch. A game of checkers was ready to be played on a wooden table.
Some firewood was stacked high beside the stone fireplace and more was stacked on the front porch. The girls had not yet lit a fire, but talked about the time the winds would blow colder and they would be able to cozy up to warm, flickering flames.
The bookcase between the two tall backed reading chairs had been dusted and put into order. It was one of the girls’ biggest treasures. When cleaning out the happy, little house, they’d discovered several more boxes of books stacked into a small closet in the living room. They thought they had just enough books to read forever.
The top of the low bookshelf also held a glass jar filled with wildflowers and each girls’ most special treasure. Julia had found the perfectly heart-shaped rock one day in the little stream by the pond. It was polished and smooth and had colors of gold, amber and purple entwined like ribbons all over the shiny surface. It was exactly the right size to fit in Julia’s hand and she often held it at night when she was reading in the cozy lantern-lit room. Riley’s treasure was also a small stone, almost perfectly square and clear. It looked like a piece of glass except zig-zagging down the very center was a pale gray line that Riley thought looked like lightening. Morgan was not quite so discerning. With the fickleness of a four year old, her treasure changed by the moment: sometimes it was a small piece of sparkling pink quartz that glittered like jewels in the sunlight; sometimes she had the feather of a wild turkey; and today Morgan’s treasure was a small bone from an animal, bleached pure white by the sun.
But the three little girls really didn’t care about any of these treasures or the cozy living room right now. They were focused on getting out the door. They had decided that the entire day would be spent on adventure and no chores, a reward for working so hard over the past weeks. And so they burst into the kitchen to be greeted by the wonderful sight of a tidy, sunshine filled room and the scolding of a whole family of chipmunks.
As the weeks had passed, the baby chipmunks had gotten larger and louder. Each day, they would run out the back door to do whatever it is chipmunks do all day. And each evening they would chatter and scold at the door until they were allowed back into their home in the lower cupboard. The girls had found out early on that the chipmunks did not like to be picked up, so now they just enjoyed chipmunk chatter. Often when Julia was working away in the house, a chipmunk or two would be close by, telling her all about what was happening in chipmunk talk. Julia talked back in little girl talk. It was a funny friendship, but it seemed to make all of them happy.
The girls quickly washed their hands and faces in the cold water from the pump, the chilly splashing making them feel even more wide awake. They’d long since used up the toothpaste that had been in their backpacks; so Julia made sure they each brushed their teeth with soap even though it tasted disgusting. Every morning all three girls made horrible faces and gagging noises, but their teeth looked white and shiny and healthy.
Julia had cooked up a bunch of small potatoes from the garden the night before for dinner. The girls sprinkled a bit of salt on the leftovers, ate a quick breakfast and drank their fill of fresh water.
A few extra potatoes were put into each backback along with a jar of water.
And they were ready!
Riley and Morgan quickly went out the kitchen door ready to follow their imaginations and enjoy an entire day of exploration and play.
Julia glanced around the kitchen to make sure everything was put away and then stepped out onto the stone steps to join her sisters.
The two younger girls were already by the berry bushes in the garden eating dessert.
Julia jumped down from the stone steps and shouted, “Hey, save some for me!”
And that was the start of their glorious day of fun.
To be continued on Tuesday, July 27.
(c) 2010 Jennifer R. Matlock
This publication is the exclusive property of Jennifer R. Matlock and is protected
under the US Copyright Act of 1976 and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws. The contents of this post/story may not be reproduced as a whole or in part, by any means whatsoever, without consent of the author, Jennifer R. Matlock. All rights reserved.