The swing floated back to Rasmus. Tilly naturally spread her green wings wide to catch the breeze.
From inside the tire swing, two gray ears wobbled as they poked out. Those two little ears belonged to Pedro the chinchilla, who was relaxing with each sway.
Spread beneath the tree was a lovely red checkered table cloth. Guinevere stirred the blackberry tea and made snack plates for everyone. “Guinevere,” Rasmus said, “Please don’t let your long guinea pig fur dunk in the tea cups!” Guinevere pretended she didn’t hear him.
Clink Clink. Clink Clink.
Guinevere clinked teaspoons together. Time for the important meeting to start. Coral Bell, the herb farm mistress, was tutoring two students in the library, so there was no chance she would overhear the secret conversation.
Rasmus was chairman of the meeting. “Friends, Thanksgiving is two weeks away. Who thinks we should do something special for Coral Bell? You know, to show her our thanks for taking care of us?” Tilly spread one green wing in agreement. Pedro popped out of the tire swing with a raised paw. Guinevere clapped.
“Good, I’m glad we all agree. I propose we make a special dish for Thanksgiving dinner. Who has a suggestion?” After much discussion, the plan was set. All the talk about delicious food made Pedro’s tummy growl with hunger. He nibbled on his favorite snack, carrot dandelion Small Pet Select Healthy Snackers.
“There’s plenty of fat pumpkins in the patch”, Rasmus said excitedly. “I can roll one to the back door. Coral Bell’s recipe book has instructions, step by step. Pedro and I can make the soup.” Guinevere, you can set a festive Thanksgiving table. Besides, you’ll get that fur of yours in the soup, and no one wants that!” Guinevere tried her best to stomp her little paw in protest, but it’s never as loud as Rasmus’s thumping.
“Tilly, are you happy to drizzle honey on apple slices for dessert?” Rasmus questioned. Tilly flapped her wings with delight! After all, it’s an opportunity to sneak extra honey on her birdseed for a treat!
The day before Thanksgiving, Rasmus figured out how to hollow out the pumpkin. He realized this would take team work. It had to be done while Coral Bell was busy. They all waited until Coral Bell was hanging the harvested herbs to dry in the barn.
ZZig. ZZag. ZZZiiig. ZZZaaag. ZZZZiiiig. ZZZZaaag.
Once Rasmus got the rhythm going, he sawed off the top of the pumpkin. The uneven timing of the saw made Pedro jumpy. He nibbled on fidget sticks to keep busy. Meanwhile, Tilly perched on the parsley pot, carefully supervising Rasmus with a bird’s eye view. Guinevere collected mums to decorate the table.
“Pedro, I need your help,” Rasmus bellowed. “Jump inside the pumpkin and dig out the seeds. Pedro’s eyes lit up with distress. “Senor Rasmus, jump in the pumpkin? It’s a big orange globe! It’s yucky inside, it’s slimy and wet. No gracias senor!” Pedro cried.
Guinevere chimed in. “Pedro, you can wear a rain coat! I don’t want to live with a pumpkiny Peruvian chinchilla!” Pedro replied, “Senora Guinevere, no tengo un rain coat. And when I get dirty, I will have to take a dust bath.
Again. Guinevere tried to thump like Rasmus since his thumping was such an attention getter. Her tiny little guinea pig feet barely made a sound. In frustration, Guinevere hollered, “Pedro, you can wear my pink raincoat and rain bonnet, the glittery one!” Pedro imagined himself covered in pumpkin goo. Then he imagined himself in a pink raincoat and glittery bonnet. Then he imagined himself sitting in the pumpkin eating all those seeds! All this imagining made him fret. He looked about, wondering where he could hide. He wished he had another fidget stick to nibble on.
Tilly had a plan. She whistled for Pedro and flew upstairs to the library. All sorts of neat things were in the library where Coral Bell tutored her students, and it was far away from the pumpkin on the porch. Pedro followed, hoping no one noticed him disappear. With her beak, Tilly pulled on a ribbon to open Coral Bell’s sewing box. “Pedro, no one will find you in here.” With a running leap, Pedro jumped in. He buried himself under a tangled mess of embroidery floss to hide.
Rasmus was tired from sawing, so he took a nap in his favorite spot. He settled down under the wing chair in the living room with his front paws tucked under his chest. Nice and comfy on the carpet, it was dark, and far away from Tilly’s perch. No chance of hearing Tilly practice her opera singing. Away he went into dreamland.
Meanwhile, Guinevere decided to set the table a day early. This way, she would have lots of time to dress up for Thanksgiving dinner. The special dishes were stored in the dining room china cabinet. She realized it would take her some time to carefully move the plates, cups, and saucers, one by one, to the table. After all, she is just a little guinea pig.
She merrily started her work. Rasmus was sound asleep. Pedro was in the sewing box. Tilly was perched on a dining room chair.
“Tilly, can you please fold these napkins nice and neat with your beak? I’ll take one dish at a time out to set the table.” Tilly obliged. She helped Coral Bell fold laundry, so she knew just how to fold a napkin in a neat square. The pair worked quietly. Until…….
Smash. Clatter, clatter.
The pair stopped. Dead silence. Rasmus stirred. Something wasn’t right. He wiggled out from under the chair. He sat up. He turned his tall ears this way and that way. Still silent. He quietly hopped to the next room, which happened to be the dining room. He was still groggy from his nap. He peered around the corner, not sure what was happening.
Tilly was tweeting words of comfort to Guinevere. Wrapped in Tilly’s wings, she sobbed. “Oh Tilly, Coral Bell will be so upset with me. Maybe we can glue the broken plate back together. Does Coral Bell have glue in her sewing room?” Rasmus stood up on his hind legs to get a better view. He could see how upset Guinevere was. He wanted to scold her. He sat down for a moment. His big ears flattened out when he was thinking. Rasmus decided that scolding her over an accident would make her feel worse. The best thing to do was to help her.
While searching for glue in the library, Rasmus heard a snoring noise. He swiveled his tall ears like radar antennas. He heard it again. And again. It was coming from the sewing box.
Rasmus snuck a peek inside. A pile of embroidery floss moved up and down. Something pink stuck out between the floss. Something gray dangled out of the sewing box. Rasmus thought it looked oddly familiar. Meanwhile Tilly flew upstairs. She screeched at the sight of Rasmus! Out of fright, he dropped the sewing box lid. Yelping erupted from the box. Rasmus slowly opened the lid. Two dark eyes peered out between the strands of embroidery floss.
“Pedro! What are you doing in there? Is the pumpkin cleaned out yet? That’s your job! Why are you goofing off in the sewing box? Are you sewing something in there?
Pedro whimpered in protest. “I refuse to go in the pumpkin!! I just won’t! Guinevere will make me wear her pink raincoat and bonnet! Senor Rasmus, I had a dream while I took a nap. In my dream, you got a big spoon and scooped out the pumpkin yourself! So, I am not leaving the sewing box until Thanksgiving is over unless you clean out the pumpkin!”
Rasmus was upset that he was stuck with a big pumpkin all by himself. That was not the deal, Pedro was supposed to be his pumpkin soup partner. He stomped outside to the porch. With a big spoon, he angrily dug into the pumpkin. He chiseled out the pulp. He pulled. And he pulled. And with a heave ho, he tossed the ewy, gooey pumpkin pulp out. The slippery clumps landed on the porch floor.
After Tilly and Guinevere finished gluing the broken plate, they talked Pedro out of the sewing box. “Pedro you have to do your part. You must help make the soup. That was the plan. Come on, let’s go help Rasmus with the pumpkin.” Pedro realized they were right. He had to keep his word to Rasmus. His honor was important to him, so he had to try his best to help. With new energy, they all rushed out to the porch.
Whoops-a-daisy! Whoa! Ouch. Oweee.
Guinevere and Pedro slipped on the pumpkin pulp and tumbled down the porch steps. Rasmus froze still. His eyes got very big. They were a sight to behold. Pumpkin slime mixed in the strands of fur. Pumpkin seeds stuck all over them. They looked so funny. Tilly tucked her face under her wing to giggle. Rasmus tried so hard not to laugh that his tail wiggled out of control.
Guinevere and Pedro picked themselves up and stared at each other. They too started laughing; all four friends laughed so much their bellies shook.
Guinevere took a warm bubble bath while Pedro played in a dust bath. Pedro saved all the seeds that were stuck to him for an emergency snack. Tilly used her beak to pick out the seeds that remained tangled in Guinevere’s long white fur. It took so long, that Tilly made up a song that went like this:
Pumpkin gooey, slippery and chewy
Pumpkin gooey, cold and wet
Pumpkin gooey, seeds are tangled
Pumpkin gooey, what a mess
Meanwhile, Rasmus set up the kitchen to make the soup. Coral Bell’s cookbook was open to Page 23, “Aunt Pinkie’s Pumpkin Soup” recipe. He put the big soup pot on the stove. Pumpkin chunks were on the cutting board. Fresh herbs were washed. Pedro read the recipe directions to Rasmus. Since Rasmus was bigger and stronger, he chopped the pumpkin and herbs. Tilly’s singing was getting on Pedro’s nerves, so he nibbled on the cookbook. Then he snitched some sage when Rasmus wasn’t looking. He nibbled on his apron. Once all the ingredients were simmering in the soup pot, Pedro and Rasmus napped under the wing chair. A little operatic voice continued to fill the air as they snoozed….
Pumpkin gooey, kind of phooey……
Everyone dressed in their Sunday best on Thanksgiving Day. Guinevere wore a pale blue dress. Tilly styled her long guinea pig fur up in an extra fancy “furdo”. Rasmus wore a handsome bow tie. Pedro sported a red and white sweater. The colors represented the flag of Peru to remind him of his homeland. Tilly had preened her feathers, and they sparkled with glitter tipped wings for an extra glamourous look.
Coral Bell was delightfully surprised to see a charming Thanksgiving table set with her china and yellow mums. The simmering pumpkin soup smelled delicious. The family sat down to celebrate. Coral Bell served the warm soup in the fancy china soup bowls. While the family dined together with their best table manners. Coral Bell asked what everyone was grateful for.
Tilly went first. “I am thankful you rescued me from a cold pet store. Now I have my own bird cage with a view of the herb farm, and I can fly free when I want to help my friends. And I am thankful you play the piano when I sing my opera songs.”
Next was Pedro. “Senorita, I miss my country, Peru, mucho. Since you adopted me, I have nuevos amigos that help me with my Ingles and I have a lot of love and plenty of snacks to nibble. Tilly helps me to feel less nervous. Guinevere makes me laugh. Rasmus gives me sensible advice.”
Guinevere was third. “Miss Coral Bell, you make a warm and cozy home for all of us. Even though we are all different, we are one family because you adopted us. You make sure we have everything we need, and the most important thing is a whole lotta’ love.”
Rasmus was last. “I call you Mama because I am the only one here that was born on the herb farm. Remember? I was born in a burrow under the maple tree. I wasn’t happy when you adopted Tilly, Pedro, and Guinevere. Now I am though, because I see you have enough love for all of us. They are my brother and sisters now, and I try to be a good big brother. I would be lonely without them.”
Her heart overflowed with joy. Coral Bell was grateful to her adoptees for giving her the family she always dreamed of. Through them, she watched them open their hearts to each other through:
♦ humor and sadness
♦ compassion and kindness
♦ forgiveness and understanding
♦ tolerance and acceptance
Coral Bell received the sweet and loving gift of gratitude for Thanksgiving.
~ by Peggy Macaoay