Chapter 18: School Days
Clear Falls School was a little over a mile from Cherry Hill Farm. When Grandpa James was a boy he had walked to the one-room schoolhouse with Lissa the pretty girl from next door.
When Steven and his siblings completed their first eight years of school there were two classrooms, one called the big room and the other was called the little room.
Travis and Jordan attended Clear Falls School when it sported three classrooms and a gym. They rode their bikes to school and teased Becca and her best friend Kara on the way home.
By the time Marie and the boys had graduated the school had eight classrooms and a new library off the gym. Marie was the first Rose to ride a bus.
These days Clear Falls School had twelve classrooms, a lunchroom, kitchen, and a brand new kindergarten room next to the library. For the last week teachers and staff at Clear Falls had been busy getting things ready for another year of school.
Lil Mike came downstairs earlier than usual. It was September third, the first day of school. She had on her new school outfit and her new school shoes. She was carrying her new school backpack. Her long blond hair hung in two braids with ribbons at the ends.
"I'm ready," she announced as she danced into the kitchen. She turned and posed like a runway model.
"I see that," Grandpa James smiled. "You look very pretty."
"Thank you," she said primly.
Lil Mike was too excited to eat much for breakfast. She followed Grandpa James while he did the morning chores. She was very careful not to get dirty. She showed her new outfit to the chickens, the cows, the sheep and the goats. "I'm going to school today," she told them. She even called Nanna Jillian to tell her all about it.
Marie had taken the morning off to take Lil Mike to her first day of school. By the time she was ready to go Lil Mike was in the car honking the horn. (This is very rude and can get you in trouble.)
Grandpa James had to laugh. He watched Lil Mike sadly. He was going to miss his Mouse very much. She did keep things lively around the place.
Marie got in the car and off they went. Lil Mike was starting a whole new life.
Grandpa James, Buddy, Pal, Snow and Wink stood in the drive watching until the car was far out of sight. Somehow the day felt cold and cloudy even though the sun was shining.
The rest of the day James and the guardians moved through their day as if in a sad, gray dream. Grandpa James didn't remember feeling so old before. Buddy and Pal followed with their heads down. Snow put herself back in her pen and stood beside the barn.
Grandma Lissa watched from inside. She knew James Rose better than anyone. James loved children. As busy as life had been he had always had time for his children and grandchildren. As each generation had reached school age James had gone into a blue mood. As far as he was concerned a farm should always sing with the sounds of children.
A long time later the school bus came into view. Buddy began to bark. Pal and James headed down the drive after him as fast as they could. Snow was hot on their trail.
Lil Mike jumped off the bus and raced to Grandpa James. She had so many stories to tell. She talked like a magpie all the way to the house.
After lunch Lil Mike got out her backpack and began pulling out all the papers she had brought home. Some papers were to keep. Some papers were to sign and return. Some papers were to look at and throw away. And, some papers were to display on the refrigerator. Lil Mike felt very important showing off each one.
The week passed. Every day Grandpa James and the guardians would walk Lil Mike to the bus. Every day Grandpa James and the guardians would seem sad and alone. It wasn't until Lil Mike came running up the drive that the lighthearted spirit returned to Cherry Hill Farm.
Lil Mike was showing off her papers Thursday afternoon when Grandma Lissa noticed a flyer asking for parent volunteers. Grandma Lissa got an idea.
The next day while Lil Mike was at school and James was working in the barn Grandma Lissa called the school and had a very long talk with the school principal.
The following Monday Grandpa James came down stairs earlier than usual. He had his new school shirt on and his new school shoes. He was carrying his beautiful school age great-great-granddaughter on his back.
"I'm ready," he said as he posed. "How do I look?"
"Great," Lil Mike announced.
"Thank you," he said primly. "I'm going to school," he told Buddy and Pal.
Three days a week Grandpa James got on the bus right along with Lil Mike. While she worked and played in the kindergarten room James worked in the library. James was the official story time reader.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday you will find Grandpa Rose sitting in a big chair reading a story to a group of children. No one had ever done the voices better and no one could make better faces. The children love him and he loves them.
Grandma Lissa watched as the bus stopped at the drive. Two happy people hopped off. Yes, it was a very good idea.
So James was happy once more. But the guardians were still sad and lonely. Belle had some work to do. Belle had an idea. She sent the guardians back to school too. They are teaching classes of their own; after all Cherry Hill Farm would always need guardians and these four could teach beginners quite a bit.
Airabella Quick of Cherry Hill Farm is © copyright 2008 by Kimberlyn Kammerer. All rights reserved.
May not be reprinted elsewhere without permission from the author/illustrator.