It’s Halloween Eve and three neighbor children and their beautiful early-30s mom have come over to choose their pumpkins from our patch. We are isolated enough out here that this seems like a magical thing. Little Ones.
Hansel is 7 and tells us he’s going to be Waldo. He’s letting his hair grow out for the shaggy look. Gretel, age 5, will be a ladybug, but, guess what? She is going to cheerleading camp next week! Yay!! And the Littlest, the 3-year-old, was going to be a cowboy, but he is having second thoughts. He’s not quite convinced.
The pumpkins can wait, though, because first they must inspect the hole in the deck where the raccoon trap sat. Yes, we say, we actually caught a raccoon, and it chewed that very hole in the deck.
The Bearded One tells them the story: “I heard the mama raccoon and her two little ones on the deck at 4 am when one of the two youngsters got trapped. His brother sat on top of the cage for hours, trying to chew it apart. When I told Christi this the next morning, she burst into tears and pleaded to let the raccoon go right here on the deck so as not to break up the family.”
I pick up the story. “Then, as the raccoon shot out of the trap down the deck stairs, I tried to sound extra mean and shouted, ‘Let this be a lesson to you!’ I sure hope he got the message.”
The children listen politely. Will we ever get to go pick pumpkins?
And then, up the hill at the chicken coop, Kimber squawks one of her super-duper squawks. I am concerned because we have five new 2-month old chicks, born the same day as Kimber’s Seven Chicks, and they are all establishing a new Chicken Constitution and pecking order. It’s brutal, and Kimber is going after the necks of the large golden Ameraucana chicks, Jane and Cheetah, like the elder mama hen she is. Momma Goose had warned us she might get really testy in defense of her own little ones.
Steve, the chick so aggressively pecked at by his own brothers and sisters, has bounced back and is, in fact, the only chick pecking the new little ones. He seems quite satisfied in his new role. He’s almost as big as Kimber now, and starting to puff up and crow some tiny little “Cock-a-doodle-doos”. We’ve decided to let him and the other roosters (Tux for sure) go to the chicken auction after the New Year. Momma Goose surprised us by saying that roosters are quite popular at the auction. They’ll have outgrown their time here.
Gretel twirls into a cheer routine and Hansel pets Ruby, our almost 11-year-old golden retriever. The Littlest looks up at me. “You know,” I say, “I have a Batman costume you might like.” His eyebrows shoot up and his eyes shine. Batman! They all troop inside and follow me upstairs to where I show them a picture.
Then, like magic, I pull out the 17-year-old homemade costume from a dresser drawer. “Our son said the first ears I made looked like mouse ears,” I explain, “so I made them more pointy. See? Just like the real Batman.”
The Littlest One stands very still and nods yes, so I slip the head-piece and bat ears over his head. It fits like Cinderella’s slipper. His mother is stunned. “His head is huge,” she says.
“So was our son’s,” I say.
“Where is he?” Batman asks. I realize he sees the picture as one taken just recently, and obviously represents a new playmate.
“He grew up,” I say. “He’s 20 years old now and away at college.” He’s not so little anymore.
I attach the cape around his shoulders and cinch the belt around his poking-out tummy. The resemblance is stunning. “Do you want to wear this costume?” I ask.
He nods yes. And then its pumpkin choosing time, at last!
He whips the head-piece off and back into the bag, scrambles down the stairs with Hansel and Gretel, and races out to the big wide world and the pumpkin patch. He heads straight for a huge pumpkin specimen — not at all interested in one of the little ones.