Warmed by the fire, Walter snoozed listening to the crackling logs. Something soft touched his head and he lifted one eyelid expecting to see Wilmuth or Gunther’s reassuring smile. Instead, a little boy sat at his side munching on sunflower seeds. Walter closed his eye because he thought he was dreaming, then peaked out to see that it wasn’t a dream. It was a little boy sitting next to him. His pulse quickened and he wanted to jump for joy, then he noticed the sadness emanating from the boy. He could sense the child was unhappy and it pulled at Walter’s heart. He wondered how could anyone be unhappy in such a wondrous place?
The thought lingered in his head until he decided, “I know, I’ll give him a tour of the Marti farm. That will brighten his day, after all, there is no other farm like this one!” And his eyes popped open.
“Hi, my name is Walter and I am a pumpkin.” Walter said.
The little boy jumped up and yelped.
He took a breath and whispered, “The... the... pumpkin... it talked.” Then he said in a LOUD voice, “You talked!” His eyes were round and his breath held tight. He’d seen pumpkins, even painted them for Halloween, but it was incredible to hear one talk! “Hi, hi… I’m Charlie,” he said. His voice squeaked like a mouse.
Walter wasn’t sure if he was scared or just had a head cold. “It’s okay, Charlie, I didn’t mean to startle you. This is my home,” he said waving a vine as if to show off the place. “Would you like to be friends?” The idea of having a new friend thrilled Walter.
Charlie nodded his head and said, “Yes, we can be friends. Are there more pumpkins like you?”
“Ah, I’ve not met any, but I can introduce you to my friends on the farm. We always have fun things to do and yummy things to eat. Why, there’s Hank and Moose and so many more who would LOVE to meet you.”
It only took Charlie a minute to imagine who might be Walter’s friends and it made him smile. He was spending the winter with Aunt Wilmuth and Uncle Gunther, but he missed his mom and dad. The thought of making new friends lifted his spirits.
“Follow me,” Walter said as he bounced across the room. Charlie watched in awe and thought to himself that this was going to be an unusual winter.
When he caught up, Walter was peering out the kitchen window and humming. Aunt Wilmuth was flipping pancakes and quietly singing.
“Over here!” cried Walter. “See the Robins? They’re having breakfast on the windowsill and the kitchen garden is alive with activity.”
Charlie peered out the window to watch the birds devour millet seeds, but the garden looked quiet to him. “I don’t see anything in the garden. What do you see?”
Walter smiled and pointed outside. “Can you see the bees? They are busy with the day’s work.” Flitting from flower to flower the bees gathered the last drops of fall’s nectar.
Walter pointed toward the carrots. “The carrots are ruffling their tops and spraying their seeds for next year’s young ones. In the fall everyone is busy preparing for the winter and the promise of spring.”
Wilmuth sensed an adventure brewing in Walter’s head, so she dished out the pancakes. “Eat up, boys!” she said in a jolly tone. “I think you’re gonna need a full tummy today.”
Walter and Charlie poured sweet maple syrup over their pancakes and devoured two stacks. As they jumped up and scurried toward the door, Aunt Wilmuth yelled, “Wear your boots and a jacket. It’s chilly out there!” The door slammed and she nodded her head with a smile. She knew that Walter would watch after Charlie.