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Stones in a Creek

Even at a young age, I was a happy and quiet girl.

You’d find me immersed in nature, saving snail’s lives from the Italian deli, talking to ants, and playing with spiders. I loved being outdoors. Instead of rushing to school on time, I delayed my trip. I skipped, danced, sang songs, picked flowers, and dropped stones into the creek just to see the pretty circles form in the pool of water below the wooden bridge. Clocks were useless since time wondering was a day well-spent.

As I meandered to school, I noticed cloud people, trees waving at me, birds chirping, and insects greeting me. I admired butterflies and stopped to appreciate their glorious colors. I’d sniff the honeysuckle flowers, tasting the nectar, losing all sense of time in the sweet poetry of their scent. As you may have guessed, I was late for school daily. Time didn’t matter to me, but it mattered to my teacher and Mom.

With a stern expression, my second-grade teacher questioned me daily, “Rosemary, why are you late for school again?

I’d smile wide-eyed and guilt free. “There was so much to see today!” My exasperated teacher shook her head day after day. I suppose she had enough of my tardiness after a string of daily late appearances. She hastily penned a letter, folded it before sealing it shut into an envelope.

She handed the ominous letter to me. “Make sure your mother sees this young lady.” She gave me a stink eye.

Of course, I’d let her see it! I thought naively. I had nothing to hide. When I returned home, I handed Mom the envelope.

“What’s this?” Mom asked.

“I was late again. My teacher wants you to read the letter,” I answered.

“How in the world were you late? I sent you in ample time to arrive. Were you playing in the brook again?” She raised her suspicious and questioning eyebrows.

“No Mom. I was walking to school the whole time, really.” Did twirling, skipping, and throwing rocks in the brook count?

“What else were you doing on the way to school? ” mom prodded.

With a child’s enthusiasm, I told her. “I chased a pretty orange and black butterfly. The honeysuckles were so sweet I had some. The brook asked me to throw rocks in it and it and played a bubble song for me.” What was I to do, just ignore it? My eyes questioned her sanity.

Mom shook her head, trying to hide an amused smile behind a mother’s stern look. That day my mother wrote the teacher a note.

“Rosemary, you will be on time tomorrow. I will find a solution.”

Mom’s solution was to hire a walking buddy, my friend’s older brother who didn’t like me but enjoyed cold hard cash.

The next morning, Mike grabbed my hand, purposely dragging me along. With dollars fresh in his mind, he was determined to get me up the hill before the first bell rang. There’d be no twirling, lally-gagging, or skipping on his timeline.

With my walking buddy by my side, my efforts to delay were thwarted. I handed Miss Exmann, mom’s note. My sweet second-grade teacher read it and broke into laughter.

“What’s so funny?” I asked.

“Your mom knows you very well,” she said.

Years later, Mom told me what she wrote.

Dear Miss Exmann,

“Love could move mountains, but nothing can move my daughter up the hill faster. I’ll see what I can do to light a fire under her. She will be on time from now on. Apologies. Rosemary's exasperated mother.”

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Sandra Murphy
Sandra Murphy
Jun 28, 2022

Rosemary that was hilarious and even funnier because I remember it well. You also were a terrible eater. In the morning mom chased you around the house trying to get you to at least drink an egg nog.

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