Sterilizing 3 dozen quart jars on a warm August afternoon can make a kitchen mighty uncomfortable. Looking for relief, Connie moved her work station out to the patio and started in once again on the basket of peaches she would be canning. After settling in to the mindless task, she gradually became aware of a small voice from the other side of the privacy fence.
“That sounds like a little one.” Connie had been away, and had not yet met her new neighbors. “I wonder if they would appreciate a jar of pe…”
“Ow! Ow!” The quiet little voice had grown louder and more urgent, and was now accompanied by the stomping of little sneakers on the concrete.
“Ow! Ow! Ow!” Now the words were muffled, being interspersed between cries of despair as only a toddler can utter.
Connie was reluctant to interfere, but was becoming alarmed. “Is no one going to check on the child? Something must be wrong.”
Then she heard a new voice calling out, “Hush, Scotty. Stop that crying and don’t bother Daddy. Go play with your ball.”
“Well, land’s sake!” The words escaped her mouth before she could think, but she continued to mutter under her breath. “The child is obviously in pain and all Daddy has to say is, “Don’t bother me?” What a hard-hearted fellow he must be… Now I can’t even enjoy sitting out on my own patio…and to think I was going to gift them with a jar of my lovely peaches! I never! Well, it’s good I found out now…”
As she fumed, Connie hurried to collect her things to move back inside. Turning toward the doorway, her foot landed on a wobbly patio stone. At the same time, she was startled by the sight of several bees feasting on the fragrant fruity slices piled high in the bowl she held. Connie had a strong aversion to bees, and her reflex reaction combined with her unstable footing resulted in disaster. With a yelp, Connie went down. The basket, bowl, knife, and peaches all went up, but soon came back down with a great clatter, clunk, thunk, and many a splat!
Before she could get her wits about her, she was looking up into the face of a stranger who Connie realized must be the new neighbor. “Are you all right? Let me help you up. Here, take my hand.”
Seated again, indignation prevented Connie from speaking.
The stranger tried again. “I heard you cry out…”, then, “I’m Doug West…”
Feeling obliged to say something, Connie finally blurted out, “I was putting up peaches.” As if for proof, a golden yellow wedge of peach slid from her hair, down the side of her face and plopped into her lap.
Doug graciously took that opportunity to turn away, picking up the paring knife which had landed in the grass.
“Ow!” At the sound, the two turned to find a sturdy little toddler eyeing the fruit explosion laid out across the patio. “Well, It looks like little Scotty has come to your rescue, too.”
“Is he okay? He keeps saying ‘ow’.”
“Oh, he’s fine.”
The little tyke’s attention had switched from the peaches to the tiny critters still intent on enjoying the bounty before them. In his hand was a small stick, pointed at the oblivious insects.
“Ow! Ow!” Scotty was doing his part to save the neighborhood from the marauding gang of bees.
Understanding dawned on Connie. “So “ow” really means “pow”?
Doug nodded in resignation. “He’s such a typical boy. We watched an old western on TV and he liked it a little too much. Now he goes around shooting up the bad guys with a “stick gun”, and it never stops. He was upset a few minutes ago because the squirrel he was shooting at refused to cooperate. He thought I should somehow be able to make it play dead.”
“Anyways, it looks like you’re going to be okay, so I’ll just pick up the rest of these things and get out of your way.”
Later, Connie had to chuckle over her mistake. “There was a time that the “toddler tongue” wouldn’t have been a challenge to me, and my impulsive character assessment, well, that was clearly wrong.”
Rising once again from her chair revealed that she had acquired a few sore spots from her “unplanned trip”. As she moved toward the house, her own quiet little voice could be heard with each step.
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