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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Spring (the season) (07/23/09)

TITLE: April Treasures
By Anita van der Elst


Our car looked in eminent danger by boxes piled high. Clearly the day had come for cleaning the garage. My husband BJ and I, insulated coffee mugs in hand, ventured into the cool April morning and set to the task. Our unwanted but gently used treasures would benefit a thrift store that supports a ministry to battered women and their children.

“Since it’s the hardest area to cull, we’ll start with the books.” I struck the top of a box with my fist. “We must be ruthless regardless of our attachment to them.”

“I can’t discard these,” BJ moaned, leafing through the Children’s Knowledge books. “I read and re-read them as a kid. The information…science…history…was fascinating to me. Great stuff.”

“And my Narnia and Anne of Green Gables sets,” I groaned. “I’m keeping them, too.”

We put them out of harm’s way.

Then the ruthlessness began in earnest.

A pile grew on one side of the garage, while the stacks of boxes on the other side diminished. Cartons of books abandoned by our kids, long away from the nest, joined the pile. We peaked through them first, sentimentally rescuing All About Me, a Dr. Seuss book personalized by our oldest with my help, as well as gold-star filled AWANA scripture memorization books mastered by her brothers.

“Whoa,” BJ grimaced, pulling down a box from the overhead hanging shelves. “This one’s heavy.”

“Roller skates,” I reported, prying back the covers. “Several pairs in various sizes. The oldest kid got the new pair and her little sister the worn out ones.”

Sitting back in my camp chair I took a sip of coffee. Through the open door I saw thunderclouds rising like bread dough.

“Honey, remember how we used to get the kids to clean the garage?” I asked BJ who was also taking a breather.

He grabbed my free hand, chuckling. “I don’t think those roller skates will fit us, sweetheart.”

I laughed, “Sure made the job fun for them though. Having a larger ‘rink’ was great incentive for getting everything put in its place. Making a game with the push brooms while they skated around and around with music blaring from their ghetto blaster.”

“Yeah,” BJ agreed. “And we were actually able to fit both cars in here for a few weeks afterwards!”

“I think they liked it even more when we’d have a spring thunder shower, like what’s headed our way right now. I remember cleaning the garage as a kid doing the same thing. Rain pouring outside, lightning flashing like the disco ball at the roller rink. Our garage had an attached covered carport and sweeping it was almost like skating in the rainstorm itself. Ummm, and the smell as the rain splashed onto the gravel driveway.”

We sat momentarily absorbed in memories.

“Well, best get back to it,” I said, squeezing BJ’s hand.

We worked side-by-side for the next couple of hours, our camaraderie bolstering our growing fatigue. As BJ loaded his pick-up truck, I pulled the last couple of boxes over to my chair. Inside were plastic garbage bags tightly knotted. I worked the knots loose with tired fingers, reached in and pulled out crocheted afghans and flannel homemade baby blankets. Several in pastel green matched by the same in pastel yellow, as new looking as when I received them. I rested my face in the softness.

The baby boys we’d cuddled in them were now grown men. Born in a rainy April almost three decades earlier, after a precarious pregnancy shortened by four weeks, it’d been uncertain all three of us would survive. Many had prayed and our tiny springtime treasures were safe.

“Honey,” I choked out as I stood up. “I’ve kept these blankets hidden away far too long. I’m ready for God to use them elsewhere now.”

My tears welled over as the first lightning stroke flashed. BJ laid his cheek on top of my head and put his arms around me.

Encircled in my husband’s love, I folded the blankets gently.

“Thank you, Lord, for the joy of raising our boys and their sisters, and for treasured memories,” I murmured. “May the babies who receive these blankets experience love and care as did ours. May they grow strong, learning to give back to You in the lives You give them.”

“Amen,” said BJ.

I placed them under the tarp with the other spring-cleaning treasures then climbed into the cab beside him, both of us smiling as we drove into the rain.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Robyn Burke07/30/09
What a treasure! I can smell the rain on the dusty driveway, feel the pleasant gliding of my body on roller skates... and taste the tenderness of those emotions raised by those sweet treasures of our babies.
Glad you were able to release those blankets to provide swaddling for other babes. Nice writing.
Bryan Ridenour07/30/09
Great descriptions and story. Nice writing. Well done.
Anita van der Elst08/07/09
Oops! The correct word would be imminent, not eminent. Amazing what one thinks of just before falling asleep--had to address it as soon as I got up! LOL!