Even before I open my eyes, I can hear my mother humming. She is singing softly, so she won’t wake us up,
“You are my Sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are grey.”
And not only that. I can hear birds outside, chirping.
Right away I know it is going to be an exciting day.
I wake up quickly and slip out of bed. When I pass the open window, I can feel the air coming in, so soft and warm. It fluffs up against my cheeks as I peek out and hold my face up to the screen.
In the kitchen, Mumma is flipping pancakes, and the syrup is already on the table.
“Get everybody up,” she says, so I do. April is already out of bed, she never wants to miss anything, but June tries to hide under the covers. The baby is kicking his blankets off, and smiling up at me, but I don’t want to pick him up.
“You will have to wait, you little monkey,” I say, “Today is a special day for us, not you.” And then I feel bad, and pick him up anyway.
After we eat, Mumma tells us why she is so happy.
“Its spring,” she says, “It’s time to put away your winter boots and get your Wellies. So get going, you are going outside to play today.”
No winter boots, no winter parkas, no mittens or scarfs. Just our light jackets over our dresses—and our Wellies!
When June and April and I are outside, we don’t know what to do. Everything is different outside. There’s no ice to pretend skating on, no snow to pull our sled on, so we stand there for a while, looking around the farm.
“I can see green grass,” April shouts, and I start to cheer about it too.
“Shush!” June says, “Listen!”
We hear a bubbling sound, just behind the wind break
Then we hear it, a loud bubbling sound just behind the wind break, at the far edge of the garden. It’s the ditch!
June leads the way, like she always does, saying, lets see what’s going on! For a minute, we just stand there and look—the ditch is like a river, the banks are green with new grass, and in the ditch there are hundreds of dandelions. I feel a little shiver. Then June gets really bossy, like she is allowed to do, because she is three years older than me and five years older than April.
“It can be dangerous,” she warns, “So be careful. We are going to get as close as we can, so we can see the dandelions better, maybe count them.”
“Do what I do,” June says, as she puts one foot forward and follows carefully with the other, feeling her way along. She does this all the way to the edge, and we can see now, that the water is not so deep.
“Can we go in?” April asks. “I want to get some dandelions.”
I can see June is thinking this over. she wants to go in too, but she is smart and sensible, like Mumma says, and she knows all of the rules.
“We’re not supposed to go in,” she says, “Mumma says we’re not allowed. We can’t swim.”
But she walks a little closer, and we follow her until we find a shallow part, and then we step in. I can feel the cold water against my Wellies, and I stand there for a minute, looking around, smelling the air, and listening to the water trickling. The dandelions are all around us, they are so tall, I can reach out and touch a hundred of them, right from where I stand.
“I can see them growing,” I call out to June, “I’m looking right at them and I can see them growing. And guess what, I can hear them growing too!”
“Don’t be so silly,” June says, but she can see what I am seeing. Where there were only a few hundred dandelions in the ditch, there are now thousands. They are growing so fast, I can hear popping sounds as they snap out of the grass!
We scream at April to stop!
But April is not looking at the dandelions, she is walking out along the ditch, into deeper water. Suddenly she yells that the water is over her Wellies! We scream at her to stop! Carefully we edge our way into the ditch, going further and further into the freezing water, where she stands, crying. We catch up to her and grab her hands. then drag her back to the shallow part, and up the bank.
We sit on a log, and take off her boots, one by one, and spill the water out. It’s ice-cold, and she is shivering and crying. We put our jackets around her and stand there for a minute, catching our breath. I bend over and put my hands on my knees, waiting for my heart to stop pounding.
“Let’s pick a few dandelions, April.” June finally says, “Ten each. Then we can stop in the shed and get some canning jars. For a bouquet.” By the time we get home, April is carrying a jar full of beautiful golden dandelions, and humming a little tune. It sounds a little like, “You Are My Sunshine.” June gives me her squinty-eyed look, with her lips pressed tightly together. I know what that look means. But she doesn’t have to worry. Mumma will never know.