Once upon a time, just the other day, there lived a family of five just down the street. Some days Momma stayed home, and some days Daddy stayed home. Every day Ava Anne, Savannah Lynn, and Hunter Thomas stayed home. Nothing extravagant ever seemed to happen. In fact, every day seemed almost the same as the day before. When Ava Anne, Savannah Lynn and Hunter Thomas awoke, they would tip-toe out of their bedrooms, down the hall, and to the kitchen. Momma or Daddy would be there or on the nearby couch, reading or eating or doing something uninteresting like sorting mail.
On this particular day, Ava Anne, Savannah Lynn and Hunter Thomas were awakened by Momma and Daddy.
“Good morning, good morning, good mooor-ning; it’s time to rise and shine!” Momma sang to her girls as she switched on the light and turned off the fan in their room.
Ava Anne groaned and rolled over. Savannah Lynn did not move. Momma bent over each of her girls and kissed them on the cheek and forehead.
In the other room, Daddy was singing, too. He had his own morning song. He picked up Hunter Thomas and began searching his closet for something to wear. Hunter Thomas curled up on Daddy’s shoulder with his eyes still firmly closed.
“Do you know where we’re going today, Hunt?” Daddy asked as he pulled out a pair of jeans.
Hunter Thomas shook his head a little, but did not open his eyes.
“We’re going to see your cousin, Mary Caroline, today,” Momma said in the other room.
Ava Anne really liked visiting her cousin. Mary Caroline was six, just a year younger than Ava Anne and a year older than Savannah Lynn.
“Will we get to play all day?” Ava Anne asked Momma.
Mary Caroline, Aunt Lisa and Uncle John lived two hours away, so the family of five who lived just down the street only visited them once in a while. On the days they drove two hours to see their family, they woke up very early and arrived home very late.
Finally, everyone was fully awake and dressed. Toast with peanut butter and jelly had been eaten. The beds were made, and the family of five was in the car. Momma turned on the kids’ favorite audio storybook as Daddy turned out of the driveway.
Three stories and one bathroom stop later, Daddy turned into another driveway.
“We’re here!” Savannah Lynn exclaimed. Within seconds, the girls had their seatbelts off and were helping their brother out of his car seat. As soon as the car was parked the doors were open and all three kids were piling out. At the same moment, the front door of the house swung open and Mary Caroline came bounding out.
“C’mon,” Mary Caroline said with a gasp, “let’s go to the Mulberry House.” They took off around the corner of Mary Caroline’s big, blue house and vanished from sight. Momma and Daddy were barely to the front door.
In one cramped corner of the backyard grew an enormous mulberry tree. It was in this tree that Uncle John had built a tree house for Mary Caroline.
“This is how you get in,” Mary Caroline instructed. “First, you jump onto the rope and swing to the other side.” Mary Caroline demonstrated on the rope that was attached to the underside of the tree house. Ava Anne followed suit and so did Savannah Lynn, with little difficulty. Hunter Thomas, however, was just too small to complete this first task. He tried, but fell off the rope each time, becoming more frustrated with each attempt. Ava Anne eventually helped him onto the rope slowly and pushed him just a little, then helped him off again.
Mary Caroline was a little impatient with Hunter Thomas. “Come on,” she said. “Now, we climb the ladder to the very highest spot.”
Savannah Lynn followed after Mary Caroline. Ava Anne lifted Hunter Thomas onto the second rung of the ladder and followed behind him.
“Welcome to the Mulberry House!” Mary Caroline exclaimed. “Now, we eat our feast!”
The kids all sat down on the small platform of the Mulberry House. They could reach ripe, juicy mulberries from the branches that hung just inches over their heads. Within a few minutes, their fingers and shirts were stained purple and red.
“What should we do next?” Savannah Lynn asked.
“Whatever we want,” Mary Caroline answered, “but I have some ideas. We could feast up here all day, or go to the neighbors’ house and jump on the trampoline, or play in my room, or, well, there’s one last adventure I was thinking of.” Mary Caroline’s eyes were sparkling and a mischievous grin was growing on her mulberry stained face.
“Well,” Ava Anne said impatiently, “what is it?”
To be continued…