TALES FROM HOME - Chapter Sixteen
From the bedroom window of the happy little house, the girls had not realized how large the mountain really was. Sitting on some of the large rocks that had tumbled down from the steep sides, the sisters were surprised at its immensity.
Since the girls had been staying in the happy little house, the mountain had seemed like the edge of their world. The jagged outline of craggy rocks had stayed a constant silhouette on their horizon, no matter how much the sky had changed behind it. As the dawn’s pearly pink transformed into intense summer blue or gray and black storm-filled skies, the mountain had been there. As evening turned the sky into indigo velvet, the mountain stood steadily as the sentry of the Eastern horizon.
Tipping her freckled face back and looking up, up, up, Julia wondered how they would ever get past the vast expanse of craggy rocks if they needed to.
Clambering up a few rocks higher on the steep slope, she glanced back toward where they had started their journey from this morning. Her bright blue eyes showed a bit of worry when she realized she could not even see the roof of the happy little house breaking through the canopy of the woods.
From her rocky perch she shouted at her sisters that they would need to start walking home soon.
Before the complaints could begin, she simply pointed at the sun dropping lower in the sky and said, “Do you want to get stuck in the woods in the dark?”
Just as she was climbing down to start their long walk back, Morgan let out a cry of excitement.
“Julia! Julia! Look, oh look what I found!” shouted Morgan running toward her big sister. Riley ran right behind her, correcting her statement, “Morgan! WE found! Look what WE found!” Clutched in those four year old fingers were several golden leaves.
“Julia! Look! I found gold! I mean, WE found gold!”
Taking the glowing, golden leaves in her hand, Julia turned them over carefully. While her younger sisters saw beautiful bits of nature, the oldest sister saw something else.
She turned to look back at the mountain, and in her imagination she envisioned how it would look decorated in glittering snow with gray storm clouds towering above. She thought of the blue-mirrored water of the pond turning cloudy and shiny with ice.
As they started walking home, Julia did her best to hide her thoughts from her sisters. As evening fell and the air cooled around them, she shivered just a bit.
It was almost as if Morgan’s treasured golden leaves had released autumn into the woods. Julia felt the beginning of fall swirl around her. She scented the poignant fragrance of seasons starting to turn.
Instead of her sisters happy laughter filling the woods, she imagined leaves swirling around her like glowing confetti in gold, red and orange.
And she worried.
Riley noticed her sisters silence and ran back beside her, “Julia, what’s the matter? Aren’t you having fun?”
Julia assured her anxious younger sister that she was having a great time.
But Riley sensed it was not quite true and persisted in her questioning.
Finally Julia simply said, “Fall is coming, Riley.”
In excitement, Riley danced around. “We will be able to have fires in the fireplace, Julia! And the baby pumpkins will have gotten big by then! We can pile up leaves and jump in them,” and off she ran to catch up with Morgan and tell her of the upcoming fun.
The younger sisters excited planning accompanied the girls as they finished their walk back to the happy little house.
Night had fallen completely by the time the girls scrambled through the back kitchen door. Julia fumbled for matches to light the lanterns.
Morgan jumped up on a chair to get plates down for a quick snack. She filled one of the blue speckled metal mugs with water and placed her slightly crumpled gold leaves in it. In the lantern light, the decoration looked beautiful against the white metal of the table.
Riley opened the cabinet door to check on the chipmunks but they were gone! “Julia! Morgan! The chipmunks are gone!” she exclaimed. Julia just looked thoughtful and replied, “I think they are getting ready for fall. They are probably busy outside storing up nuts and seeds.”
Chaos and clatter and the chatter of three little girls filled the kitchen as they ate and talked about their adventures.
The dishes were quickly cleaned up.
And with teeth brushed and faces slightly shiny from a scrubbing in the cold water from the sink, the tired little girls headed up the stairs.
Nightgowns scented from the summer sun were quickly put on. After prayers were whispered, “Amens” and “I love you’s” filled the cozy bedroom.
And the exciting day of adventure and discovery was at an end.
To be continued on Tuesday, August 10th.
(c) 2010 Jennifer R. Matlock
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