By the time I stepped outside, the leaves were on fire.
It moved a lot faster than I had expected. I grabbed the closest thing nearby and made a dash for the water faucet.
Old man Kibbler’s boots weren’t much but it had to work. I filled the boots with as much water as they could hold and then ran back to the pile of burning leaves. I dashed the water onto the small fire and smashed the remaining smolders with my sandals.
“What the hell are you guys doing?” I shouted at Benji and Lole. Benji had matches in his hands and Lole was holding a short slim twig with a limp hotdog hanging off the end.
They both looked at me with horrified looks. I was being too harsh. I knew it but wild fires are no joke. I was just reacting to the situation.
Tears started to well up in their eyes and a new horror over took me. I rushed to their sides.
“No, no,no! I didn’t mean it like that. I just…I was scared. I was afraid you would get hurt.”
I placed one arm around each of the twins and drew them closer to me. They sniffled and grabbed onto me tight.
“We didn’t know where you were.”
“We were hungry.”
“Hush now. I’m sorry. I was trying to gather some apples for lunch. I just placed them in the kitchen when I looked out the window and saw what was happening. Hush!”
“You said we were going to roast hotdogs. We just wanted to help out.”
“We didn’t mean to make the leaves burn. Honest, we didn’t”
I pinned my lips and grappled to hold back my tears. I know they didn’t mean to. I shouldn’t have left them alone for so long.
“Ok, that’s enough. It’s time for a hotdog lunch with a side of sliced apples.” I said smiling through the pain in my throat.
“Can we have hotdogs cooked on the stove?” Lole asked.
We all laughed. That broke the tension.
“Can we water the garden first? We told old man Kibbler that we would."
I smiled at them. Old man Kibbler, that’s what we called him, was our grandpa. He was our last living relative. Our parents passed away almost two years ago now. It was on a nice autumn day like today. The wind was blowing lightly and the gold brown leaves had gathered in clusters along the ground. We had a picnic that day with roasted hotdogs, apple pies and spice apple cider. Afterwards mom and dad went out to visit with the neighbors across town; they didn’t make it home.
Benji ran to the side of the little cottage we called home and grabbed the tattered water cans. Lole ran behind him and grabbed a can from his hand. They filled the cans with water and walked over to a random garden patch. There were eight patches in all. Old man Kibbler taught us all how to grow pumpkins, radishes, lettuce, carrots and berries.
Folks said old man Kebbler didn't know anything about raising kids. They were wrong. He was our grandpa. He loved us more than anyone else in the world. It was like having a touch of mom and dad still with us, even though he had his own ways. Old man Kebbler preferred to have nutmeg instead of cinnamon in his tea. He liked dinner at breakfast time and breakfast in the early evening. He made the best zucchini bread too. But best of all, he didn't fuss about a messed up bed; as long as it was made up by noon he never made a quarrel over it.
I watched the twins from a few feet away. Lole’s brown curls rocked gently in the light breeze as she hopped from patch to patch watering the bright green, red and yellow vegetables. Benji was focused on his task making sure each and every plant had an ample spray.
When the watering was done my twin siblings looked at me.
“Are you going to make apple pie for desert Nan?” Benji asked me.
“Yeah, and spiced autumn tea. Are you gonna make? Lole followed.
“I sure am but we can’t do it without the apples can we?” I teased them.
“Didn’t you find some apples already?” Benji asked.
“I found enough for me. Now it’s your turn. If you want pie you better fetch some more apples you rascals.” I laughed aloud and ran my hands through their hair.
They laughed and ran away.
The apple trees were located in the front of the cottage. I ran behind them laughing and feeling free and happy. We may not have had mom and dad, but we had each other.
There were Granny Smith trees, Macoun trees, Zester trees and mom’s favorite, the sweet Ambrosia tree. The twins ran from tree to tree. Gathering was easy because the ground was covered with a variety of apples. Old man Keebler had already gone to market for the day but tomorrow we would gather the new apples and sort them for sale.
Benji and Lole gathered Apples in their clothes like they were aprons. I spotted them taking a few bites here and there. Their faces were aglow with delight and I was happy that the memory of the burning leaves was not the one they would cherish from this day.
There was a sound in the distance. We all looked down the road distracted for a moment from our merriment. It was the old white Ford truck. Old man Keebler was on his way home. We heard a three short blasts from his horn and we jumped up and down for joy. It was the signal that he had a good day at market.
I looked up at the warm sky and shaded my eyes just a bit.
‘Mom, Dad, If you’re up there looking down on us, please know we are okay. Thank you for another pretty autumn day.’
I looked down and the twins were staring at me in wonder.
“Yes. Yes we are having apple pie, spiced apple cider and…yeah stove top roasted hotdogs.”
We all laughed, followed by a tight group hug.
Then we went inside- hand in hand.