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Playing in The Garden

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.


  1. LOL!!!! That is too funny. And Of course Ella is real, she shows up in your photographs very well. You got a lot of work done out there 😀

    1. Teresa — by the time I finished pulling up all the Dandelions and thistle I din’t have any “grip” left in my hands and they ached something fierce!

  2. What is this world coming to when an adult sees reality more clearly than a 4 and 7 year old?

    Good job on the weeding. I’d be sitting with (the very real) Ella.

    1. SN — he does seem to be short in the “let’s pretend” department, but other than that he’s quite advanced and has an amazing vocabulary.

  3. So funny. What a sweet neighbor you are!

    And I can bet you aren’t like the man who was friendly to all the neighborhood kids and they loved him.
    One day, he had his a new driveway poured, and the next morning when he went out all manner of pictures and initials had been carved in before it dried.
    He went ballistic, ranting and raving against all the kids. The parents said, “We don’t understand. We thought you loved our kids.”
    The man answered: “I love them in the abstract, but not in the concrete.”


  4. OMG ! Ella is still around ? I thought she got lost somewhere in Belgium. I lost her traces ! How could I ? I can’t even follow an elephant, I have to have my eyes checked !
    I like your name Mailbox Lady and will keep it in mind for the next occasion !
    My round trip through Morocco was a dream and the Hotel too. You can see some pictures on my Writer Cramps blog, if you haven’t ! I admit I am a little upside down today I am still half in Morocco, lol !

    1. Gattina — Ella never made it to Belgium. Her potential hostess, having lost several personal articles on her US tour and having purcahsed 3x more to replace them, was reluctant to add someone else’s stuff to her ever growing pile of luggage.

  5. I’m betting the little boy had a conversation with his mom about the across the street lady seeing real elephants in her yard.

  6. Never mind D and his dad. I’m worried about what Marcy’s telling her mom!

  7. I love it! And I can’t wait to meet Ella! What’s happened to kids imagination? Ah, everyone grows up too soon these days!!! Hope you have a great day!


    1. Sylvia — I think those were Amoeba’s concerns, too. I thought D quite charming in a matter-of-fact, little boy sort of way.

    1. Susan — yes, and I don’t think telling them my real name is going to change what they call me or how they think about me, either — although now I might be “That-Crazy-Lady”.

  8. There are certain ages and stages when kids are very literal- minded, especially boys. I would guess D’s imagination works fine with books or with his own toys, possibly when no one else is around. 😀

    1. Barbara — I wasn’t going to try explaining developmental stages in my blog, but you are right. Plus, D was very literal in the context of the garden because his dad is a gardener and there he learns facts. At D’s age switching back and forth between literal thought and imagination takes more than a two second adjustment.

  9. Oh I can vouch that Ella is as real as a real stuffed friend can get! Seems Ella likes all play and no work! She was always waiting for the next outing when she stayed with us. She was such a joy and always managed to attract attention wherever she went. Please do tell her we said “hello”.

    1. Church Lady — yes, Ella was a big hit in church this morning. Everybody was charmed by her. Pastor even shook her hand.

  10. ROFLMBO! Quilly… you could NOT expect a 4 year old OR a 7 year old to know what’s REALLY real! Sheeeeeeeeesh…. I remember I tried to convince Ella one time that weeding and eating were the SAME thing for elephants. She explained to me that she is not THAT kind of elephant. Oh.

    1. Melli — well, Ella could have helped out, but she never said a word! She did stick her tongue out at me when the kids weren’t looking. I thought about telling D he could play with her. That would have livened her up!

  11. I´m sure those kids have a new name for you now. Like the “Lady that believes in fur elephants” or something like that…. 🙂

  12. aren’t those kids cute? you can’t blame them if they don’t believe in ella. kids nowadays have lost “it”, sad isn’t it? i bet they don’t wait for santa claus anymore. that was a great job you did there, quilly!

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