Evelyn

Evelyn was early for music practice. She sat with Mrs. Green on the back patio and sipped lemonade. It was hot and humid and the ice filled glass felt good in Evelyn’s hand. She took a deep breath.

This was Mrs. Green’s sign that Evelyn was about to speak. Evelyn was known for firing questions at you so fast you couldn’t think, and yet when she was finished you started thinking in a way you had never thought before.

“Mrs. Green what is your favorite color?”

Mrs. Green smiled at Evelyn and gave her a knowing glance.

“Well, do you have a favorite number?”

Mrs. Green didn’t even have to think about it. “Seven.”

Evelyn continued, “Do you like cherry or apple pie?”

“Cherry.”

Evelyn took a big gulp of pink lemonade. She kicked off her flip flops and swung her feet back and forth under the bouncy patio chair. “Why do you think we like certain things, Mrs. Green? I mean, why isn’t your favorite number five, and why isn’t apple pie your favorite? Why do I love to sing and why does Mr. Green love chocolate? Why do you love kids and why are you so good at gardening? Am I weird to wonder about all this stuff? Do you ever wonder about this stuff Mrs. Green?”

Mrs. Green looked over at Evelyn and smiled. “I do when I am with you Evelyn and that is the very reason I like you.  That is the very reason.”

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Copyright Terri Neagle Donaldson 2015

Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Memorial Day

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Early Monday morning Mrs. Green looked out the back door. Carson was swinging on the hammock by the stream. She fixed up a cup of hot cocoa and walked out to greet him. Carson didn’t hear her coming across the wet grass. She stood and looked at him. Carson was miles away in thought. She walked around the tree and stood beside him next to the hammock. She handed him the hot chocolate and looked off in the same direction at the clear blue sky that was captivating his attention.

Carson looked up at her. “Today is Memorial Day.”

“That’s right.” Mrs. Green was always looking for a teachable moment with Carson. “So what is memorial Day Carson?”

Carson looked up with one eye shut and the other squinting into the morning sun. He turned his head and studied Mrs. Green’s face. “It’s the day we remember.” Carson seemed a bit surprised that he had to explain this to Mrs. Green.

Mrs. Green kept digging. “But Carson, you have never gone to war, or had a parent go to war or even had a friend in the military. How do you remember something you have never experienced?”

Carson stood up from the hammock and walked back and forth in front of the stream. “I remember the stories I’ve been told and the stuff I have read. I remember reading about soldiers saving each other during wars, and people going far away from home when they really didn’t want to but they did it because they knew they ought to. There are lots of people who died. Cemeteries full of people. There are lots of people who considered it their duty to take care of us and stand guard and protect America. It’s my history and it’s your history too, you aught to know about this stuff Mrs. Green.” Carson pulled a small American flag out of his back pocket. He handed it to Mrs. Green. “It’s your job to remember even if you weren’t there.”

Mrs. Green smiled at Carson and gave him a big hug. They stood by the stream and looked off into the distance for a long, long time. The teaching moment was over, and what was left were two friends remembering.

Copyright Terri Neagle Donaldson 2015

Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Hammocks

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In the way back of the lot near the stream and down from the climbing tree were two hammocks. Every year on Memorial Day weekend Mrs. Green brought out the hammocks and tied them securely to the two trees. The trees seemed to have grown at just the right distance for hammocks and were perfectly placed, creating just enough shade and a wonderful view of the stream and the wishing field beyond.

It seemed like everyone who visited the Greens over the years loved the hammocks. Carson came over just to get his reading homework done while swinging back and forth. Mike, Steve, Evelyn and Sue found they could all fit side by side on the hammocks and sway to the melodies they created. Sylvia and Sam had each taken naps by the babbling brook. Juliette had yet to swing on the hammocks but she had heard about them and couldn’t wait to take a turn. Even Ampersand found a way to climb into the hammock, gently walk between the ropes, turn around and take a good afternoon snooze.

It was Mr. Green who found he did not enjoy the shady spot and the enchantment of hammocks. Mrs. Green had bought the two hammocks years ago with visions of the couple relaxing after hours of hard work in the yard. She was sure they would look up at the stars at night and count the rolling clouds going by.

Mr. Green tried to sit in the hammock. He really tried hard. Somehow each time Mr. Green attempted the hammock some comical calamity ensued. It was comical to Mrs. Green at least.

This year Mrs. Green was determined to help Mr. Green enjoy the hammock.

“Sit down slowly and use your hands for support and balance.”

Mr. Green sat slowly and flipped backwards into a somersault. His feet landed in the stream. His hat flew off his head and he ran sloshing in the shallow water and the slippery rocks to chase his favorite baseball cap floating downstream.

He tried straddling the hammock with one foot firmly planted on the ground, he to push too hard on one side and the hammock turned upside down leaving Mr. Green on his hands and knees. Mrs. Green tried not to laugh.

Mrs. Green helped Mr. Green up, brushed him off and tried again. “Let’s try sitting on it together. We will count to three and sit.”

Somehow, someway it always turned out the same for Mr. Green. Ampersand ran up and jumped on top of Mr. Green and he ended up eating grass. Mrs. Green tried not to laugh.

Mrs. Green held the hammock steady and Mr. Green climbed in and for a moment it was fine and then Mrs. Green stepped away to get into her hammock and womp, Mr. Green was eating dirt. Mrs. Green tried not to laugh.

Mr. Green was a good sport about it. On Saturday afternoon everyone was over for a barbecue. Mr. Green flipped hamburgers, served everyone lemonade and ice cream Sundays in plastic cups as they laughed, played and enjoyed the gentle swing of the hammock. They all offered to take over the grill and encouraged Mr. Green to go relax. Mr. Green just kept flipping burgers and serving food, and Mrs. Green tried not to laugh.

Copyright Terri Neagle Donaldson 2015

Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Good Thunderstorm

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Mr. and Mrs. Green loved a good thunderstorm. It was late Monday night and the Greens sat side by side in bed. Mr. Green had turned the bed so it faced the window. The curtains were open and the sky was full of entertainment. The rain dripped on the window sills. Frogs croaked in the distance. Clouds seemed to be rolling around in the sky. The lights were off and they waited, almost holding their breath for the moment when the room lit up for a split second. It was just enough time to get a glimpse of the clouds in the sky, to see the earth below, to catch the wonder in their eyes. They did not speak. There was nothing to be said. There were just no words to sum up a good thunderstorm.

Copyright Terri Neagle Donaldson 2015

Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Green’s Anniversary

It was the Green’s wedding anniversary and the mid May breeze felt just as it did the day the Greens were married. Mr. Green had asked Mrs. Green to marry him under two giant maple trees in her family’s back yard. As he got down on one knee to propose a spring breeze swept by and showered the couple in whirligig seeds from the maple tree above them. The twirling, whirling seeds floated down and encircled the couple stopping the clock for a moment in time. It was a simple moment that set the tone for the marriage to come.

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The young couple had known each other for a long, long time and no one was surprised when they announced their engagement. They kept their plans simple and elegant as they were interested in a marriage not a wedding.

One week later they were wed under the same two maple trees. It was a beautiful ceremony. The hand written invitations stated punch, cake, love and laughter would be served.

Sylvia and Sam spent the entire week collecting whirligig seeds from every maple tree in town. As Mr. Green carried Mrs. Green out to the car in her white wedding dress family and friends showered them with the gentle twirling maple seeds.

The moment was as beautiful today as it was then, as the Green’s took an anniversary stroll and stood under every maple tree to stand in awe of their many blessings.

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Copyright Terri Neagle Donaldson 2015

Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Some See Weeds, Mothers See Wishes

Early Saturday morning Juliette and her mother walked into Mrs. Green’s foyer. Ampersand was still eating his breakfast but he left the bowl and gave a happy howl with his chin raised high up in the air and his tail wagging quickly. This howl was reserved for the happiest of moments. Juliette laughed and howled right along with him.

Juliette’s mother motioned for Mrs. Green to come closer.

“All week long my Juliette has been so excited to see you. She keeps repeating a word I am not familiar with in English. She keeps saying she is going wushing with you.”

Mrs. Green smiled because she knew exactly what Juliette was talking about. She explained to Juliette’s mother that they had very special plans for the morning. She assured her that she would understand the meaning of the word the next day.

Mrs. Green and Juliette walked hand in hand through the grass, beyond the patio, past the garden and under the climbing tree. They tiptoed carefully over the sturdy stepping stones, artistically placed in the steam to keep your feet from getting wet without interrupting the twisting, twirling water flowing down the stream.

As they stepped on the other side of the stream it was like stepping into another world. There were only a few farms touching the corners of Ellicott City and the Greens were fortunate enough to be friends with the family who owned this one. It was just past the climbing tree and over the stream.

The two friends stood very still on the other side of the stream and looked around. The sun was warm and rays of sunshine filtered through the climbing tree behind them and  onto the beautiful meadow. Before them stood the most beautiful dandelion field Juliette had ever seen. It seemed to go on and on. Some of the dandelions were golden but some had turned into beautiful white fluffy orbs.

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“Wushes.” Juliette said in a whisper.

Mrs. Green pulled two sturdy jars out of a burlap bag swung over her shoulder. She gave one to Juliette and said,

“Yes, wishes.”

Ampersand had been taking his time crossing the stream. He was not a fan of water. Once he crossed he ran past Juliette and Mrs. Green as fast as he could. The result was a puff of dandelion fluff released into the air like confetti. Juliette and Mrs. Green laughed and laughed as Ampersand jumped and leaped through the meadow.

A little past the stream, was a strong and sturdy bench. Mrs. Green sat on the bench and watched as Juliette carefully collected the roundest and fullest of the fluff. Juliette was very careful with her wishes. She brought the delicate orbs over to Mrs. Green.

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The next morning when Juliette’s mother awoke on Mother’s Day she found Juliette’s sitting next to her bed waiting for her to wake up. In Juliette’s hand was the jar Mrs. Green had given her. Inside the jar was packed full of the most perfect, round, fluffy dandelion orbs Juliette’s mother had ever seen.

Juliett’s mother laughed and oohed and aahed over the jar. She said,

“No one, in my entire life, has ever given me one wish, much less, an entire jar of wishes.”

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Copyright Terri Neagle Donaldson 2015

Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Turtle Races

Mrs. Green sat down on the black patio chair on Sunday morning. It had been a long weekend and it was only Sunday. She did not expect to see Bartholomew this early but she had a strawberry ready and waiting just in case. He must be tired. She was tired.  It was always so exciting in the spring when Bartholomew arrived.

The week had been fun and filled with visits and preparations. In and out visitors came to Mrs. Green’s house in the hopes of seeing Bartholomew. Friday afternoon School was out. There was a great deal of flutter and commotion in the Green’s living room and her helpers tumbled into the back yard as everyone came over to make signs for the big day.

Mothers and fathers, big sisters and cousins showed up in their cars to put out signs in every neighborhood in Ellicott City. The word was spreading and the excitement was building.

Saturday morning everyone arrived early at the conservancy. At the entrance a smattering of high school musicians from the marching band played a happy welcome to all who entered.

After a slightly tearful welcome and a thank you for the huge turnout the festivities began. There were puppies on leashes, hamsters in balls, bunnies in wagons, kitty cats, and one bearded dragon. Everyone lined up and was very respectful. Everyone wanted to race Bartholomew, the fastest turtle in Howard County.

Bartholomew had raised thousands of dollars over the years for Mrs. Green’s favorite Cancer charity and this year  it looked like he was going to top it all. The turtle races didn’t end on Saturday. Once Bartholomew showed up for the season signs went up all spring and summer long. There were turtle race signs up in front of hundreds of houses and stores all over Howard County. All you had to do was display a sign in your yard or business and welcome anyone to race any  pet by just showing up, knocking on your door, racing the pet and collecting five dollars for the charity.

Mrs. Green had started the tradition years ago when she was a little girl. She displayed a small turtle statue with a sign on it in her front yard that read “turtle races for charity.” It was all that simple. This tradition had gone on for years and years and had grown and grown. It made Mrs. Green so happy inside to think that this little turtle had done so much for so many people.

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Copyright Terri Neagle Donaldson 2015

Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terri Neagle Donaldson and Stressfreestories with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.