Uncle Clarence stood in the driveway and yelled, “Terry, Mary, Jill, Bill and Annie, grub’s ready.” We five cousins jumped from our stations on the schooner and scrambled our way, over the moorings, to the house.
Washing our hands in the deep cast iron sink, we blew bubbles through the lather from the Castile soap. The transparent orbs catching in Mary’s hair, on Bill’s nose and Annie’s eyelashes causing giggles.
We all gathered around the broad oak table Aunt Mavie had set with red, yellow and green dishes, for she loved color and flung it at us whenever she could. Orange striped glasses were filled with frothy fresh milk. A platter the size of a griddle was piled high with peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches, and egg salad on buns. There were bowls of bread and butter pickles preserved last summer; while radish roses and carrot curls floated among ice cubes to keep their cut shapes.
Uncle Clarence led the prayerful singing with his version of “Sweetly Sings The Donkey”. He intoned: “Thank you precious Jesus, for this food today. Let it fill our bodies so we can go and play. Key eye, key oh, key eye, key oh, key eh. Key eye, key oh, key eye, key oh, key eh.” Our parents would have been appalled, so we never told them. Hardly finished with the scrumptious sandwiches, Auntie brought molasses crinkles as big as her husband’s hard-worked hands, and sugar cookies cut into shapes of trees, cows and birds.
Soon we youngsters were running back to our swashbuckling adventures in the red schooner. Terry was up in the crow’s nest in a second, scanning the horizon for pirates. Captain Jill huddled over maps and trade routes in the cabin. Carefully steering the big cherry wheel, guiding the ship, was Mary, gliding us around boulders at the edge of the island. Sweat beading on their brows, Bill and Annie swabbed the deck, retied lanyards and made everything ship shape.
“Ahoy matey!" cried Annie, “The rope on the grappling hook is frayed.” Bill swaggered over to it, hoisting it onto the broad deck to inspect. “Well, shiver me timbers, this ain’t nothing. I’ll fix it in a jack clip.”
Suddenly Terry yelled, “Me sees a galleon on the port horizon. She’s waggin’ a blue flag, arm the gunwales, all hands on deck. Captain, secure the war chest, these rogues ain't a gettin’ our hold loot.”
Captain Jillian ran up the support beams, crying out, “Me lashing the treasure chest to the cabin planks, covering it with me desk, none will be the wiser.”
Terry swung from the mainsail onto the poop deck, brandishing his glinting sword, ready for any scallywag who might dare to step on Mighty Red. “Me hearties, be brave!” he cried. “No fear, our doubloons are safe. I’ll fight to the death to protect ye wenches and lads.”
“Yo ho ho!” A surprising call arose from the starboard side of the vessel. A jaunty hat appeared just over the rail as Uncle Clarence came aboard. With a shout, Bill jumped in front of him, blocking his clasp of the rigging, “Ahoy.” He shouted, “Halt your pace, show your colors. Ye’ll not board our ship. State your name, sir, or we’ll be casting ya into the briny.”
“Arr, spare me, I bring news of pirates around the Horn. Lash the guns, beware of the reef, set your sights on the open sea to escape the marauders. Arrgh! They are upon us! Abandon ship, abandon ship, the enemy is attacking with arrows of fire!” We all ran, climbing out of rigging, and out from under the lower decks, joining Uncle Clarence on dry land.
Our excursion was over, we left The Mighty Red, also known as the big red barn. There were chores to do on the farm. Cows were waiting to be brought up from the meadow, chickens wanted feed and water in the hen house, the four pigs were squealing for food.
But later, when a tar’s delight of red skies at night creeps upon us, then we five will once again sail above the fathoms, outwitting many a galleon on the stormy seas.
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