Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: DELICIOUS (02/04/16)
TITLE: Childhood Memories
By Jennifer Woodley
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‘Come on sleepy heads!’ my aunt laughed as we approached. ‘You are the slowest snails this morning.’ We smiled at her and I caught the canvas picking apron she tossed my way. A rabbit shot out from behind a nearby tree and scampered past our feet. Joanne shouted with delight, and forgetting all else, scurried after it. She was a handful; I had my work cut out for me this morning. Amusing an easily distracted four year old sister and picking apples at the same time surely deserved a double portion of pie at morning break.
Gathering Joanne back again, I sat her down under a tree. She protested. I insisted. Amazingly, she obeyed. ‘Now stay here.’ I tried to sound firm like dad did when he wanted us to listen. ‘I will throw the apples down to you and maybe you can catch them. Let’s see how good you are at that, ready?’ Joanne nodded obligingly and seemed interested enough in this game – for now. Hopefully there would be no more rabbits about to distract her.
Picking is hard work. My arms ached as I reached out, wobbling upon the ladder propped precariously against the tree trunk. I worked slowly, but determinedly: morning break was soon coming. The canvas apron, bulging with glossy red apples, dug painfully into my shoulders. Yet, the laughter and banter of my family rising from the apple trees around the orchard, was a pleasant distraction, averting my attention from tearing limbs and a rumbling belly.
Every now and then I tossed Joanne a ruby-red apple, keeping her attentive to our game. Catching each one in her tiny hands, she squealed with triumph and took a bite revealing creamy, white flesh. Sticky, sweet juice trickled around her chin. Half nibbled apples were strewn about her. In this moment, she was the picture of contentment.
The tractor coughed into life, interrupting my reverie. ‘Time for break!’ bellowed my uncle above the engine’s rumble. At last the reward we had been waiting for. Emptying our burdensome picking aprons, the apples tumbled into wooden barrels. Then, squeezing together like the tightly packed apples themselves, we climbed up onto the tractor tray and gripped the safety bar. Up, up, up and off! Light breezes puffed cool, fresh breathe over our sweaty faces. I held Joanne’s sticky hand extra tight: there were too many white, bouncing bunnies skirting past the tractor to lure her.
Grandma was waiting underneath the outstretched arms of the camphor laurel in the backyard. As the tractor tray touched the ground, cousins, aunt, uncle, mum, dad and even Jackson, the old red cattle dog, spilled out onto the lawn. Before us the table was filled with every good thing to satisfy hungry workers. Joanne yanked her hand away from mine, eager to be first to the table. ‘Wait,’ I cautioned her sternly, ‘no need to hurry, Joanne, there’s plenty for everyone.
She pouted. ‘Let me go, Jennifer!’ she demanded stamping her tiny feet. ‘I want the first piece of grandma’s pie.’
‘Steady.’ I laughed, directing her to a chair. ‘Wait for grandma to slice it first.’
Grandma took up the large ivory-handle knife and placed generous pieces of sugar-topped apple pie into each china bowl. Joanne boldly helped herself to one and plopped a lavish dollop of whipped cream on the top. Reaching for a bowl and then the cream, I tasted grandma’s famous-in-the-family apple pie. Ripe, red apples, grown, picked, cooked and enjoyed from this very orchard.
‘What makes grandma’s pie so good?’ Joanne asked with golden pastry almost spilling out of her mouth.
‘Well, uncle says it’s the type of apples he grows on the farm that make grandma’s pie the best’ I answered.
‘Hmm,’ she thought hard while munching. ‘what type are they?’
‘Delicious’ I laughed.
‘They sure are’ she smiled, and thanking grandma, we both helped ourselves to seconds.
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