BEANS a work in progress

A way long time ago before even I was born, so you know that was quite a while ago, three sisters, Magda, Ruth and Gilda, were left at home to watch their baby brother while their mother and father took the wagon and rode into town to buy coffee, flour, sugar and salt at the Anderson store. Enough flour, sugar and salt to mix with the dozen eggs laid by the hens last week, and the pound of butter churned from the milk gathered from Flora, their gentle brown cow, to make a luscious cake for Magda’s thirteenth Name Day cake. It would be a glorious cake! Thirteen layers of golden nutmeg cake filled with thick, sweet, whipped cream and topped with melted bitter sweet chocolate frosting speckled with flakes of real gold. Each layer of the cake would hold a secret surprise…a copper coin, perhaps, or a tiny carved bird, or a silver thimble…and whoever was lucky enough to find the surprise would also be assured of good cheer for the whole coming year. Magda would surely remember this cake her entire life, no doubt about it.

But enough of the cake. I’m here to tell you what happened to Magda, Ruth and Gilda while watching their baby brother whose name was Albert. His three sisters thought Albert seemed a rather serious name for a small baby, so amongst themselves they called him Beanie.

As soon as Mother and Dad had ridden around the boulder at the edge of the creek, the three girls went to work. Magda stoked the wood stove with a fresh oak log, and put a pot of water on to boil. Ruth made up the beds, singing at the top of her voice and laughing hysterically at nothing in particular. Gilda swept the floor and out the door to finish on the front porch. When the water was boiled, and the tin bathtub filled about half full of hot and cold water, Magda called the girls together. They all pinned thick bath towels to the front of their house dresses, the Ruth ran to the crib and gently lifted Beanie out of his cradle and pulled his soft nightshirt up over his head. The shock of the cool air sent goose bumps racing across his fat tummy, and he almost began to holler, but he saw the tub filled with warm water waiting for him and he gave a baby giggle and clapped his hands.

Beanie loved to take a bath. He loved to splash, and kick, and screech, and whoever was bathing him soon become soaked through, hence the thick towels pinned to his sister’s dresses while the all worked to bathe him. Magda, Ruth and Gilda laughed along with Beanie, and danced and sang around the tub while he splashed. They all carried with glee for almost a full hour, then finally the girls pulled Beanie out of the tub, dried him until his skin shown and dressed him in his soft leggings, little leather boots and a warm red tunic. They parted his shining hair on the side and smoothed it all nice and neat. Gilda spread a bright quilt on the front porch and set Beanie in the middle of it to play with three pots while she and her sisters hung the wet towels on the clothesline. Magda and Ruth carried out the tub and poured out the bath water on the tomato plants full of smooth, green globes promising jars of tasty spaghetti sauce in two-three weeks’ time. They hung the tub on the side of the shed next to the house. All three girls stood a moment looking around the yard, then the kitchen, making sure all was neat and tidy, then headed to the porch to gather up Beanie into the wood sided wagon for a walk down to the lake to feed the ducks.

It had been a beautiful, easy morning, filled with song and laughter and Beanie’s giggles. The sisters walked arm in arm around the front of the house, tripping each other as they went.
“Beanie boy! It’s time for a walk!” they sang out, and started up the steps. “Beanie! Beanie? Baby? Oh!” They all covered their mouths with their hands, they’re sparkling eyes wide with shock.

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