by: Jennifer Scott
With my finger I draw pictures on the steamed-up windows. Daisies and daffodils, like the ones that grew in the garden last summer.
Sunshine in winter,
Hard to find
When the window is full of my winter garden, I can see outside. I see bumps under the wet, green grass.
They are like the lumps burping in the oatmeal Mama is stirring on the stove.
They are like the swell of Mama's skin, where the baby is sleeping.
"Mama, why are there bubbles under the grass?"
"They are crocuses, Emma. Poking up their long necks to see if it's time. Do you remember the colours of the spring garden?"
"Oh yes! Fresh cream and eggplant flowers. I remember."
When, Mama, when?
Soon, Emma, soon. Spring is coming,
Spring is here
With my hands I dig holes in the cool dirt. Lady Slipper, Lambs' Ears, Foxglove, Fern. These are some of the flowers that will grow in my garden.
Lady Slipper, sunshine,
Lamb's Ear, sunshine,
They are mine
Mama rests in the shade of the cedar fence where the berries will grow. Raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, gooseberries. They make my lips purple and red. They make my mouth water.
"Don't worry, Mama. If you're sleepy, I'll pick the berries when they're ready."
"I'd like that."
When, Mama, when?
Soon, Emma, soon. Summer is coming,
Summer is here
With my feet bare I run through the blossoms. Apple blossoms fall like snow, in my hair, tickle my face, stick to my toes. The petals are soft
and smell sweet, like our nighttime baths.
Gardens in summer,
We take our time
Mama takes my hand and brings me close to the tree. She points to the green buds that will swell into apples. Mama puts her hand on her tummy where the baby kicks. I think the baby must like it here, under the apple tree. I kiss Mama's tummy, and whisper to the baby.
Soon, baby, soon.
Fall is coming,
Fall is here
Mama needs me to collect the apples. When the sun wakes me up I let myself out the back door quietly, so I won't wake her. In the night apples fell and now I gather them in my basket. I sit on the steps as the sun dries the dew from my feet. The sun is strong this morning. It warms my hair and my shoulders. I close my eyes and feel it sink into my skin. Mama is up.
"Emma!" I hear her call to me.
"I'm here, Mama. I gathered the apples."
"Wonderful! Bring them here and we'll start on the applesauce."
I bring her my basket. We sit together at the table, peeling, paring, coring apples. We watch them puff up as they steam.
The kitchen fills with the spicy smell of our applesauce. It reminds me of lying on our blanket under the apple tree. Mama stands and takes a long, deep breath. "I think the baby can smell those apples on the stove."
"Really?" I look at her and she smiles at me.
When, Mama, when?
Now, Emma, now. The baby is coming,
The baby is coming
Mama and I go into her room and open the closet. We pull out extra sheets and blankets and soft towels to wrap the baby with. We put clean sheets on the bed, and close the blinds so that the room won't get too warm in the late fall sun. Mama calls the midwife and talks to her quietly.
Then she comes into the kitchen and we begin to fill the jars with applesauce. Mama scoops it while I shake the jars to settle it down. We'll have applesauce all winter.
When Mama finds it too hard to sit, we walk through the house, out in the yard, through the garden, along the fence and back again.
The midwife is here. It is time to go in now.
Baby is here
It's your time to shine
Illustration by Petra Dolezalova
UBC's Journal of Children's Literature
Mail: Chameleon C/O UBC Creative Writing
Buchanan Room E462, 1866 Main Mall Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z1
Email: Helen Kuk --