I studied the woodland as our car passed by. Last week the colorful fall leaves had been shone in the tree branches. Today they were on the ground. Still bright, they looked like drifts of sunshine. Sighing, I shifted restlessly around in our family car’s back seat. The sky beyond the bald tree-top-twigs was a beautiful, pure blue. Although I had run through leaves on the playground with my fourth grade classmates during recess, I felt like I hadn’t had enough time to enjoy the day.
Arriving at home, I dropped my books on the kitchen table and grabbed a warm cookie from the counter. As I turned to run out the back door with my treat, Mom looked up from a pan of cookies she’d just taken from the oven and said, “Change out of your school clothes before leaving the house.”
A mouthful of sweet, ginger snap cookie crumbs kept me from being able to do more than merely protest, “Awfuph!” Disobeying wasn’t an option. Doing as I was told, I ran up the stairs to the bedroom I shared with my big sister. Sloughing off my school clothes like cast-off fall leaves, I left them where they fell on the floor. Hopping and tripping, I pulled on my play clothes as I headed back down the steps.
The afternoon was pleasantly cool. I took a turn though our orchard where I found a tart, red-streaked pie-apple to eat. Following the sound of machinery, I slowly walked through the farm yard. As I passed the silo, the pungent smell of fermenting corn silage made me look around. There was a small trickle of dark green juice seeping out of the base of the round, cement structure. The smell reminded me of Mom’s homemade sauerkraut. Only this smelled much stronger and much greener!
Daddy was harvesting the corn field behind the barn. He was on his tractor, pulling the chopper. I watched with fascination as the tall corn went into the machine and was instantly chopped into small pieces. Hitched to the chopper was an enclosed wagon called the chopper box. The chpper spat wet, freshly-chopped corn into the wagon. The smell of the fresh, green stalks and the starchy yellow cobs was almost made my mouth water. I thought, “The cows are so lucky to have such good food to eat this winter.”
Munching on my apple, I decided to follow the chopper box as it was being filled. Casting the apple core into the expanse of corn stumps, I set off. The machinery was dangerous, so I knew I had to stay well out of the way. As Daddy followed the corn row around a corner, small particles of the cool, wet corn missed the chopper box and splattered me. I loved the way it felt on my skin.
Although I had told myself I didn’t like beef, Mom’s roast for supper was brown and tender with plenty of rich, delicious juice for the potatoes. After eating, Daddy jumped to his feet, ready to start the milking chores. Mom began gathering the dishes. She said to me, “Take the kettle of food scraps to the barn for the cats. Don’t play in the barn too long. I want the kettle back so I can wash it.”
The friendly, “Chug-chug-chug” of the Surge milk pump greeted me as I approached the barn. I felt like all was right with the world because Daddy was in the barn doing the chores. Several cats came to greet me as I entered. They loved the food scraps.
It was dark by the time I returned to the house. Every shadow and dark silhouette of swaying branches frightened me, so I ran. My sister laughed at me for being such a scaredy-cat. She said, “You’re acting like a Halloween monster is after you.”
At bedtime I went right to sleep, tired from my busy day. I dreamt that I was in a black and white checker-tiled kitchen. A closet door opened and out stumbled an old fashioned broom with a pumpkin head. I backed away. The thing was alive! It followed me, grunting, “Ugh…”
I ran, but couldn’t seem to find my way out of the kitchen. The monster followed me around table and chairs, ironing board and refrigerator, constantly, rhythmically grunting, “Ugh…ugh.”
I found myself trapped in the small back door entryway, the monster came closer and closer, still grunting, “Ugh…Ugh.”
Terrified, I woke up. In bed next to me, my big sister was grunting in her sleep, “Ugh…ugh.” She was the monster!
At breakfast the next morning I told Mom what had happened and concluded, “It’s not even October 31st yet, but I had a Halloween slumber party last night.”