My Day Had Come
CRASH, BOOM, RUMBLE, RUMBLE
The spring storm jolted me awake with flashes of lightning and claps of thunder. I scurried from my bed to Mother and Daddy.
Mother said sleepily, “Crawl in, Dinah Gale. It’ll be over soon.”
Snuggled between them, I was cozy as a caterpillar in a chrysalis, a new word I learned in Sunday school—it means cocoon.
Daddy said, “Remember Dinah, a good rain shower makes mushrooms pop up. Tomorrow afternoon, when the chores are done, we’ll head for Mose Ryan Woods.”
The storm forgotten, I drifted off, resuming the dream of easy to find morels as big as Daddy’s fist growing underneath my swing, and barely heard Mother whisper, “She was back to sleep before her head hit the pillow.”
Morning arrived with the rooster’s boastful, ‘Cockadoodle Doo!” I dashed out of bed, dressed fast as I could, and raced Billy to the barn to help Daddy with the milking.
Tucker, our terrier, and Calico, our cat, along with other tumbling felines sprinted behind.
“I win!” Billy yelled running into the barn first.
“Legs – too short,” I grumbled to myself following him in, trying to catch my breath.
Farm life is the best. Being youngest isn’t. I’m Dinah. I can’t outrun Billy. What’s even worse, I can’t find mushrooms.
We milk early so the cows won’t be in misery. If the cows don’t feed their calves or give us milk in our bucket, their udders get so full they bellow, “MMUUUUU!
The kitties followed us for fresh warm squirts. Daddy’s deep-down chuckle at the the kittens ‘schlurping’ milk off their heart-shaped faces always made us giggle.
I try hard, but I can’t force the milk from the cow’s teats to stream into the bucket.
“Dinah, gently grasp, squeeze with downward pressure from top to tip, slowly.”
Even with all of Daddy’s patient instructions, I just can’t get the knack of it. Billy can, so can Mary, but not me.
Oh well, maybe today I’ll find mushrooms in Mose Ryan Woods.
“Good thing we wore our boots!” said Billy. “We’re headed toward the sheep pasture just across Crooked Creek to check on the ewes.”
The lambs are due. Daddy keeps a watchful eye to see if they need help.
Two Easters ago Bumpy was born, a triplet! What a sight when they appeared, one, two, three! The mother accepted two, but not Bumpy.
We raised her in the house. Mother stuck a nipple on a Coke bottle. Billy and Mary and I took turns feeding her. When she grew up Daddy said, “Farm animals belong outside.”
Eventually Bumpy became the leader of the flock. Being raised in the house, the flock didn’t like her at first. She’d hear Daddy’s voice, raise her head with a “Baaah,” and head for the barnyard—they soon learned to follow! No sheep dog needed on our farm! And, Bumpy is expecting!
Daddy gave me a wink, smiled, and said, “To the chicken house next, Dinah Gale.” I get to scatter the feed. This is something I can do. The rooster is unfriendly to anyone but me. Gathering eggs is like a treasure hunt! Some are still warm to my hand as I put them gently into my basket.
“Pawk, Pawk,” the chickens chime, scrambling for the cracked corn. I have no trouble at all finding eggs.
What a pretty day, the sun’s so bright, the air’s so sweet, the chores are fun, and the day slips by. Finally, Daddy calls, “Chores all done, let’s go!”
The thick woods are inviting with Daddy along. It’s late afternoon and we’re on our way, onion sacks in hand. Morels are as yummy as they are higgledy-piggledy, popping up just about any place after it rains.
“Dinah! Look over by that fallen elm,” Daddy calls, coaxing me away from the old swimming hole. Carrying a long stick, he peeks under the May apples as we go.
“Found the first one!” brags Billy snapping it off, leaving the root in the ground—the promise of next year’s crop.
“Here’s one,” echoes Mary, “and another!”
Here we go again!
Then Daddy finds a cluster of three by the elm.
How could I have missed those? When we play ‘Hide the Thimble’ with Granny—I’m usually the first to find it.
“Welcome back. Any luck?” Mother asked holding open the back door as we marched up the steps into the kitchen.
One look at me and she knew.
The salt water was ready for the mushrooms’ bath before they hit the frying pan. Daddy, Billy and Mary hand her the three onion bags full. I gave Mother my empty sack, and some dandelions, violets, and daisies I picked along the way.
“These will be just perfect for the supper table, Dinah.” She said with a hug, making me feel better already.
She whispered, “You’ll find some next time.”
Granny adds encouragingly, “Dinah, your day will come.”
My disappointment is forgotten once we’re feasting on mouthwatering, tummy filling, corn-on-the-cob, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, fried chicken, home-made biscuits, and, of course, mushrooms.
“Rhubarb pie for dessert,” Mother announced. Daddy’s favorite.
Mother hears it first. “Listen.”
A faint bleating.
“Bumpy!” Daddy’s napkin hit the floor. He jumped out of his chair, hopped into his boots, and raced for the pasture.
There it was again, more frantic this time!
Running, we followed Daddy with Tucker at our heels. We found Bumpy in trouble in the pasture and Daddy trying to help her.
“Mary bring a blanket from the barn!” Daddy yelled.
The lamb was coming! Half way in and half way out, but it was caught. Daddy knew what to do, but it’s taking too long!
When the lamb was birthed, it was lifeless.
Billy whispered, “Please Lord, let it be all right.”
Daddy laid the little lamb gently on the blanket then tended to Bumpy. We all were crying. I folded the corner of the blanket over him and touched his tiny ear. Tucker sniffed the still form and licked its nose. I reached to push her away.
Daddy spoke up, “Leave her be. Animals have a sixth sense, maybe……,”
We watched Tucker continue to lick, and lick, and licked the peaceful face of the lifeless lamb.
Suddenly, the lamb’s ear twitched, and then he flicked his little pink tongue.
Tucker barked, and Mother laughed. Billy and Mary and I squealed in delight.
Mother picked up the baby lamb and folded the blanket gently around him.
In the grass beneath where he’d laid, was the prettiest little morel ever, glistening with dew, and glimmering like gold in the sunset. And I saw it first.
Bumpy and her baby lamb were all right.
My day had come.