When we first moved in way back in February, several of the neighborhood kids introduced themselves to me one day at the mailboxes out on the edge of our cul de sac. Since then they stop by in twos and threes and speak to me if I am outside. Today was no exception.
It was a beautiful sunshiny day — something we’ve had very few of — so Ella and I went out to garden. Okay, so it isn’t a garden yet. But it will be. Ella thought helping me in the garden might involve eating and was very disappointed to learn that today was all about weeding.
She grabbed my soda, climbed up on a rock and said she would supervise. It was Ella’s idea to take before and after pics. As you can see some of the work got done before she thought of it.
Ella said I couldn’t have any soda until I weeded all the way to her. Well, those of you who know Ella well know that by the time I reached her — about 15 minutes after I snapped this pic — there was no soda to be had. She drank it! She said it was awfully hot sitting out there on that rock. Besides which, if I hadn’t worked so slow, I would have had plenty of soda.
At that she climbed down off the rock and went off to sunbathe. That’s when D showed up. D is four years old and he lives across the street. He saw me digging in the dirt and thought it might be fun to join me. D saved me from slugs, snails and beetles. The slugs and snails he carried to the “woods” (the tree-filled lot next door). The beetles he stomped. Whenever he saw a spider he shrieked at me to run! I didn’t. I would just brush them away. And the worms he saved from me.
He would yell, “That’s a worm! Don’t hurt it. Worms are our friends. They will take care of your garden and help it grow good.” Then he would pick up the worm and take it to where I wasn’t digging, and bury it.
D also helped me toss the weeds and dirt clods away. Most of his tossing — four year-olds aren’t noted for their throwing skills — showered my face and head with dirt, but I worked on helping him perfect his aim. Inevitably, D noticed Ella. He walked over to where she was sunbathing. He looked back at me and said, “You have an elephant in your yard.”
“Yes, I know.” I said. “Her name is Ella. She is supposed to be helping me weed, but she really doesn’t like work all that much.”
D stared at me for a moment, looked at Ella, and looked back at me. “She isn’t real,” he said.
I said, “Oh! Don’t say that! It hurts her feelings.”
D gave me that same look Amoeba gives me sometimes and raised his eyebrow. He looked at Ella again and repeated. “She isn’t real.”
I asked if he could see her and he agreed that he could. I told him that if he could see her, she must be real. He said, “But she’s not really real, you know.”
I told him I was afraid he was going to make Ella cry. He shook his head and came back to the garden to rescue more worms.
Soon Marcy joined us. She rode up on her bicycle and said, “Hi Mailbox Lady.”
D said, “She’s not Mailbox Lady. She’s Across-The -Street Lady.”
Marcy said, “I met her a long time ago at the mail boxes!” Then she said to me, “D is only 4 and he thinks he knows everything, but I am 7 and in second grade. I know lots more.”
I told them my name. Neither of them seemed very impressed. That’s when Marcy saw Ella. “Oh,” she said. “You have an elephant in your yard.”
I introduced Ella and told Marcy that Ella came to visit me from Maryland. I also said that she refused to work in the garden and that she drank all my pop. Marcy said, “Sometimes it is hard to get good help.”
D hopped to his feet. “Aaargh!” He yelled. “She isn’t real!” And then he stomped across the street and went in the house.
Marcy said, “Boys don’t do make-believe very well.”
I asked Marcy if she could see Ella — and assured her that Ella is indeed, really real. Marcy backed up to the curb, grabbed her bicycle and told me she had to go home.
About that time I’d finished up the garden and was ready to take my after photo. Of course Ella jumped up, ran over and climbed back up on the rock. I do wish D and Marcy had been there to see it. Isn’t real? Pft.