Updated: Oct 27, 2019
Charlie’s feet landed with a splash as he jumped off the stair. His new rubber boots were warm and dry. Walter giggled and landed next to him. The water was chilled by the morning air, but their feet were snug and warm. The doves tilted their heads as they marveled at the two pals splashing like a couple of birds taking a bath.
A deep baritone voice bellowed, “Halt! Who goes there?” Charlie looked up at the top of the garden gate and his gaze was met with a lizard’s broad smile. The tiny creature projected an imposing voice and Walter chuckled at his assumed authority.
He leaned over to Charlie and whispered, “This is Hank. He thinks he is protecting the garden entry and he calls himself ‘The Guardian of The Garden.’ He’s actually a really nice guy."
Hank puffed up his bright red neck plume and the gate swung open. “How’d he do that?” Charlie whispered to Walter. Walter pointed to a tiny mouse standing at the bottom of the wooden gate.
“Hi ya, Walter! Who’s your friend?” boomed the mouse.
“This is Charlie, he’s staying at the Marti’s home this winter and I’m showing him around the farm today.” Walter said. “Charlie, this is Moose the Mouse. He’s the foreman of the Kitchen Garden.”
Charlie bent over and shook the tiny mouse’s hand. “Nice to meet you Moose,” Charlie said.
“Come on, let’s take a walk and I’ll show you around,” Moose said as he stepped back and waved them through the gate, then launched into the garden’s story. “These are the carrots and to the left we have the spinach. They love the cooler weather. We keep the lower growing vegetables toward the front of the garden and the larger ones in the back. The herbs are planted in between the rows to repel the bugs and we add hay around the roots to keep everyone warm at night.”
They passed a row of beans and Charlie thought he heard them rustle as they walked by. It was making him a little jittery. Then a sweet voice called out from behind a big leaf.
“Hi, Walter,” it said, and the leaf shifted to reveal a pretty little vegetable. “Who’s your friend?” she asked.
Charlie stared at the yellow vegetable as she swayed on her vine and coyly fluttered her eyelashes. Charlie thought he saw Walter get two shades of orange brighter and then looked at Moose who shrugged it away.
“Hi, Clarice,” Walter stuttered and tried to introduce Charlie, but he could barely say anything because she made him shy. As he shifted awkwardly Moose got the cue and spoke up.
“Clarice is a butternut squash, Charlie. She’s a celebrity in the garden because her singing rivals that of the mighty Robin!” This time it was Clarice’s turn to blush and Charlie smiled.
“Hey, stop that!” Charlie yelped, as something grabbed his coat button and gave it a tug. They were so focused on Clarice that no one noticed the chicken walking up.
“Oh, sorry, I thought that was a seed!” the bird said, and everyone chuckled. “Howdy, howdy, Walter and Moose! I’m out looking for breakfast. Do you have any seeds? The band is here and I want to eat before they start the music.”
“Hi, Honey,” Walter said as he glanced over to see Charlie’s quizzical smile. He could tell Charlie was working hard to envision a band playing in the tiny little house across from the garden. Walter thought back to the first time he had gone to the coop and he felt a keen sense of nostalgia. It was an experience he never forgot.
Charlie remembered the sunflower seeds he’d stowed deep in his pockets. He reached in and pulled out a small handful and presented them to Honey.
“Oh, my!” she exclaimed. “Those are delightful! Thank you very much! Would you like to see the coop? I know Reba would love to meet you.”
Walter smiled and winked at Charlie. “Wanna see an amazing place? Reba runs a tight ship over there, but in the mornings, she brings in entertainment for the chickens. Honey is right, it’s a great time!”
Charlie nodded yes and they said goodbye to Moose and the garden gang.