She placed the sad little tomatoes in the sink as Skye hovered around her feet, "Skye," she said " This year I think I will be glad to see winter come. Only because that means this miserable, rainy, foggy, cold summer will be over." "We can sit around and plan next years garden. I can get an early start on my quilt, this little bit isn't worth canning, I'll just freeze it." Frustration showed on her face and in her voice, Skye whimpered. "This year I should just pull up stakes and turn it all in early." After she washed the tomatoes she put them out to dry, they would stay on the counter, they tasted better that way, at least that's what her Grandmother taught her.
"Oh, Skye. It's just too soon for winter. I think I am getting too old for this cold weather and I should go to Florida, can you imagine me with the "snow birds"? can you faithful friend?" There was silence a loud and deep silence, broken only by the hum of the refrigerator and the clock patiently ticking away the seconds. Leaning on the edge of the sink Ivy stared out into the yard. Motionless and silent for what seemed like hours, with Sky looking upward quizzically at her. Skye broke the silence with a muffled yip as he scampered to the door, when the school bus went by.
"See you tomorrow, buddy." Ivy said softly as she let him out. Skye streaked across the lawn and disappeared. "Where are you going, little man?" she whispered "
Somewhere Skye had a home with a family, and probably there was one or more children but she just wasn't sure. And for so many reasons she really didn't want to know. What if they mistreated him, no he wasn't mistreated, he was well groomed, well mannered and well fed. What if the child was sickly, but would a sickly child ride the school bus everyday? What if it was one of those houses where he was expected to be perfect all the time, and not allowed to play? No, that would be awful. Leaning on the steps her mind racing as the shadows cast by the lowering sun cast longer and longer shadows. And the chill forced Ivy to go back indoors. And as she sat in her chair watching the lights in the village first turn on and then one by one turn off she thought of her mother and her flamboyant grandmother. Some thing was stirring in her mind, a thought that had been dormant for a very long time.
Making her way down the steps, she paused to take the old family album, that belonged to her grandmother and settled into her chair. Ivy gently opened the old velvet covered album, the front cover was decorated with birds and leaves and in the center of the back cover was a large crest. Inside the cover was the inscription in fading masculine script, "I pledge my, love to you forever Mona Belle, your loving Clayton." above a photo of Ivy's flamboyant grandmother, Mona Belle Pike in her High School uniform.
The fly leaf had a family tree and painted in delicate tints, all of the branches were filled in. The next page was the wedding portrait of Mona Belle and Clayton. Ivy often spent a several weeks at her grandparents during the summer and loved to spend rainy afternoons looking at the very ornate wedding gown that hung in the cedar closet. it was really a small room where winter clothing and Sunday suits were also kept. There was a large window with shutters on the inside, a window bench, with seat cushions, the box underneath was filled with clothes Ivy and her sisters were allowed to use for dress-up.
Norma Jean, the oldest, was the glamorous one, Belle the middle sister was the brainy daredevil, and Ivy, was the free spirit.
Looking in Mr. Chips' direction, but speaking to no one in particular Ivy said softly "I took this with my Kodak Brownie, a gift from them. I think it is the last picture of them together." Carefully removing it from the album she held it and whispered, "I miss you so much. I miss you." and then sat looking at it for awhile, as she smiled the tears welled up, and she placed it on the tabletop. "Sometimes I wish I could be a kid again."
There were also pictures of her Mother, and her Aunt.
And of course Uncle Clayton, a brilliant man who had a wicked sense of humor, Ivy was his favorite.
Mr. Chips was silent, and setting aside the album, she covered his cage and walked up the stairs.
Morning was dank, and foggy, Ivy leaned on the counter straining to see through the fog as she drank her coffee. There was a black streak, she recognized as Millie followed by to young men, calling to her and sliding on the wet grass. "Hey Fellas!" Ivy yelled out the door, Millie turned on a dime and rocketed to her place beside the refrigerator, and began to beg for a cookie, which she was enjoying when Mike came through the door. "Sorry, Mrs C." "Oh think nothing of it" Ivy replied, "I have a favor to ask." I'm going to take a few days to go back and visit some of the places I remember from when I was a kid. Will you keep an eye on Skye while I'm gone?"
To be continued