The last of the campers either made their way up the steps of the bus that would be carrying them home for the night, or those old enough to drive themselves piled into their cars and pulled out of the dirt parking lot. All that was left to finish for the night was to pull out the supplies for tomorrow’s craft for the youngins, write the outline for the camp sermon, prepare the special treat for the campers and to finally finish her Bible notes for the day. Shouldn’t take too long if she got back to the farm right now and got started on her chores.
Savannah Ash, Sav for short, pulled up the long driveway, bumping along every pebble, feeling every imperfection in her older than dirt pick-up truck that everyone said she should replace, but she just couldn’t part with. Realizing that it was 5:30, she ran into the house tossing her keys on the counter and changed into her work clothes, slamming into a wall of muscle known as her brother, as she zoomed out of her room. Beau, with his 6’6” towered over her 5’10 frame, but though he hated to admit it, Sav could keep up with him on most things. However, she didn’t play football so they’d never know the answer to that mystery.
“Whoa, where are you in such a hurry to?” he asked, his booming voice filling the house. He was seven years older than Sav and he had practically raised her since their parents passed away when she was twelve.
“You know I got to get to the calf barn so that I can feed the cows and start getting the Jerseys weaned,” she replied, getting a little irritated that he was still standing in her way and her to-do list kept growing, “not to mention I have to get stalls for the new babies ready and bring them over.”
She watched as his stern face morphed into a big grin and turned to sprint back to her room as his huge hook of an arm came and pulled her into a headlock and began messing up the pony tail she had just pulled her hair into.
“I was just messin’ with you Sav,” he said with a laugh, finally releasing her.
She pulled away, and looked him in the eyes as she fixed her hair.
“Very funny,” she said with a look that reflected how unamused she was, “do you still have more seeds to plant?”
“Yeah, I have probably another three acres that need seeds. I’m going to go do that while you are in the barn. Let me know when you're done and we’ll figure out dinner.”
Without a word of response, she gave a quick salute and headed to the back door and slipped on her dirt-caked pink crocs. As she walked to the calf barn, the sun hung golden in the sky, bathing the world in warmth. She looked around the farm and smiled to herself. Beau had done a good job of keeping the farm going since their parents died. He did most of the work on the actual farm during the day, with the help of a couple other farm hands. That meant that he was in charge of the cows and planting the seeds and harvesting of the crops. Today he was getting the pumpkin seeds in the ground so that they would be ready in the fall for the pumpkin patch. Sav was in charge of the calf barn and was also in charge of the bakery. She would help out with whatever else she could, but she knew that this was Beau’s project.
She stepped into the barn and got to work thinking about how proud their dad would have been of Beau. The town knew the story because they all had pity for the family when the Ash kids lost both of their parents in a car accident, but the pity was quickly replaced with respect. Respect for the fact that Beau had raised his younger sister while expanding the family business the way their late father had wanted to and keep the family legacy alive. With these thoughts occupying her mind, Sav’s chores were done before she knew it.
Later that night, after a dinner of barbecued chicken sandwiches with slaw and corn on the cob, Sav cleaned up the table and did the dishes. She headed over to the bakery so that she could check inventory and then whip up the treat that she was bringing to camp in the morning as Beau headed into the den to watch some sports show.
Sav was greeted at the door with the ever present spicy sweet aroma as she flipped on lights and set down her bag. Reba MacEntire streamed through the speakers above as she tied on an apron and thoughts of her momma crossed her mind. She could see her standing over by the massive industrial ovens bouncing along to Reba’s “Pink Guitar” as she pulled tray after tray of her famous beignets out of the heat.
Snapping out of her day dream, Sav began her Thursday night ritual of baking beignets for the campers on Friday just as her momma had done when she was alive. Although, once she started, she noticed that she was going to have to make more than she thought seeing as the bakery was out. Not that Sav minded--it meant that she got to spend more time with the woman she most admired.
It wasn’t until 10:30 that the music fizzled out of the speakers and Sav removed the flour speckled apron that she had worn like a shield for the past three and a half hours. She left the trays on a cooling tower, flipped the lights off, locked the door and walked back to the main house. Opening the door, a sports announcer’s voice floated down the hallway as he announced the Braves, Giants score. Sav walked into the den to see her brother passed out in the recliner looking like a spitting image of their father. Turning back to the kitchen, Sav made herself a cup of tea before making her way to her room.
After showering and pulling on her favorite red flannel pj shorts with the matching tank top that says “Country Girl”, she settled in her desk chair with her tea, her Bible, and her notebook. Opening the Bible she let the withered bookmark float to the desk and she read the message that stared back at her: to my beautiful baby girl, you are an angel sent to me from God and I am so proud of you. You will do great things.
Tears pricked her eyes as she slid the bookmark to the side of the desk and began reading, silently taking notes with Lauren Digal stream softly in the background. This was how Sav always ended her summer nights--outlining the sermon that she was going to give in the morning shortly after the campers arrived. It was the job of the camp director and she learned from the best having watched her mom do it for years. Many parents of the campers over the years have come up to her and told her that she is just like her mother. Everyone in town knew that the place to send their kids for the summer was over to Meriam Ash’s Chirstian Church Camp. After her mother passed, the camp wasn’t open for a couple years, but once Sav turned fifteen, she started getting things ready and she brought back the camp as yet another way to honor her mother.
Soon the clock read 12:00. Yawn. Stretch. Put the bookmark in the Bible. Close the cover. Crawl into bed. Sav laid in her sea of pillows and stared at the ceiling. Life was hard without her parents, but at just eighteen, she had accomplished so much. Though she did not get to experience the rest of her life with her parents, she knew that they never truly left her.