Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: The Family Home (05/29/08)
TITLE: The Pudderwinkles' New Place
By Shirley McClay
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The community they were moving into was very populated and it was hard to find available accommodations. Papa had come home this morning to tell her he had found a cozy place. It was a fixer-upper but Patty and Palmer were both good at doing what needed to be done.
Polly, Pansy and Fred glanced up from their snack long enough to share a look. They knew the move would be an adventure with parents like theirs.
Several days later they arrived at their new home. The toadstool was a bit lopsided and dilapidated but the beautiful red cap was spotted with lovely white dots. It was perfect for their family of ladybugs.
They went to work moving their things in and making bedrooms and a gathering room. Patty was left to oversee the kitchen. “Can’t mess with Momma’s kitchen.” Everyone knew that mother ladybugs were very fussy about their kitchen design.
The next day the children hustled off to a new school and… hopefully… new friends.
It turned out to be a very strange day. They told Patty about it over a delicious snack of raisin-aphid salad.
“It was… odd.”
“Yeah. The kids were friendly till they found out we moved into the toadstool. Then they acted like we were poisonous or somethin’.”
Patty laughed her tinkling ladybug laugh and gave them all fluttery hugs. “Nevermind. I have an idea.”
Her plan was discussed and the next morning the larvae scuttled off to school with lighter hearts.
Patty spent the day preparing. She baked pies, cakes, and cookies… and Palmer made special drinks that only ladybugs know how to make properly.
The school bugs and their parents arrived to a freshly raked yard… the pine needles had been stacked for a bonfire. Tables were set up and games planned out. Everyone was soon having fun. But they still avoided the toadstool itself.
Finally Patty had enough. She put her fingers to her mouth and blew out a piercing whistle. All the chatter and laughter stilled and even the woodsy breeze seemed to pause for a moment. “Since this is a housewarming we would like you to see what we have done to the place.”
No one moved. “George Ditterwallum. I have so enjoyed your cricket jingles… I’m giving you the honor and privilege of being the first.”
George found himself suddenly the focus of all the other bugs’ attention. He started to sidle backwards but suddenly found himself propelled forward. He tumbled and tripped and landed upright at Palmer’s side. George shook his shiny black head and harrumphed. Before he could turn to see who had so violently bumped his backside, Palmer had hooked his foreleg over George’s shoulder and was directing him through the door.
They exited several minutes later deep in conversation about how to hang curtains with spider web threads. Patty ushered a reluctant Tiddle Trumble ahead of her into the house. The ant crept slowly, peering into what she expected to be a dark, dank, and dreary den. Instead light flooded the entry from a fluorescent plant. Tiddle blinked in surprise.
Rose petals hung in a sweeping design across the walls, delicate lacy curtains framed the windows. The bedrooms were lovely. Handmade blankets draped gracefully and a lovely scent wafted through the entire house.
“I thought toadstools would be damp and smell musty.” The words slipped from her lips and she blushed with embarrassment.
Patty grinned conspiratorially. She put her mouth near Tiddle’s ear and whispered. “Glade Plug-Ins.” Stepping back she gave her a wink and they giggled together.
Outside again the party was in full-swing and bugs were lined up waiting for a tour.
Tiddle smiled at Patty and asked her the question that was burning in everyone’s mind. “Why a toadstool? They aren’t exactly considered first class housing.”
Patty nodded. “I know. But it’s not the house that makes the home… or the social status. It’s the bugs themselves that make it special.” A grin creased her smooth cheeks. “Toadstools are as much a touch from the Creator as the loveliest elm trees. And an ant is as beautiful to Him as a butterfly.” She gave Tiddle a hug and a new friendship blossomed.
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