Every October Meggie and her family would go to a farm stand near Lexington and pick out a pumpkin for Halloween. Sometimes Meggie found a tiny pumpkin and she would keep it in the house. She wanted to put it on her dresser but it usually ended up on the dining room table, where she would make a display with leaves and a few twigs.
Another favorite Halloween tradition was drawing a face on the pumpkin for Dad to carve out. They usually decided on a friendly face, not too scary. One year Meggie said, “It should only have one tooth because it didn’t go to the dentist”. So the pumpkin had a smile and one lonely tooth.
Sometimes they took the seeds from the pumpkin, washed them and put them on a cookie sheet to bake in the oven. Meggie would eat a few but she didn’t like them nearly as much as her favorite Halloween treat – candy corn! Her Mom said, “You can have a few but not too many. You’ll get a stomach ache. Remember last year?” It’s true that Meggie ate too much candy corn and had a stomach ache but she didn’t care. She just wanted more candy corn!
Pumpkins, with or without faces, are delightful to see in October.
Every fall Meggie and her family would take a weekend to see the autumn leaves. Sometimes they would drive all over New England to see the beautiful foliage. During the winter they would talk about the prettiest trees they saw and how colorful the leaves were in the sunshine. Each year there would be at least one perfect day that everyone remembered.
Autumn is still a time when Meg loves to see the changing colors of the leaves!
Years ago when Meggie was a student, her teacher asked the class a question. “Would anyone like to have a pen pal from England and exchange letters with them?” In response, everyone (including Meggie) raised their hands. The teacher handed each student a slip of paper with the name of someone to write to. Meggie’s paper had the name of a girl named Philippa. Then the class was given an assignment to write a letter, put it in an envelope and bring it to school the next day. The teacher would put stamps on the letters and put them in the mail.
Meggie couldn’t wait to write a letter and tell her new pen pal everything that she thought might be interesting. She began to write: “Dear Philippa, My name is Margaret but everyone calls me Meggie. I got this name from the book “Little Women”. Do you have a nickname too? My dog is named Missy and sometimes my Mom calls ME Missy!!! Do you have a pet?” At this point Meggie thought she should rewrite her letter because she didn’t want to misspell any words. Also she was mixing everything up with pets, activities and books.
Her letter was ready the next day to take to class. She rewrote everything so it seemed more sensible. And her dog Missy almost ate the letter when it was sitting on the kitchen table! Luckily Meggie grabbed it in time and put it safely in the plaid book bag that she had gotten as a birthday present. She handed in her letter to the teacher and so did her classmates. The teacher told the class the letters would be mailed after school that day. Meggie couldn’t wait to hear back from her new pen pal.
In the summer Meggie and her family used to drive to an outdoor ice cream stand in Lexington, and she always asked for a cone. She would get a single scoop of frozen-solid ice cream on a spindly cake cone. But when she took one lick the ice cream fell off the cone and landed on the gravel driveway! Meggie promptly burst into tears. Her mother said, “I’ll get a spoon and you can have some of my pistachio ice cream,” but she just didn’t like the flavor and refused to eat any. Since this solution didn’t work Meggie ended up with another little scoop – in a cup this time – with some caramel topping. And happily ice cream is still one of her favorite treats.
One Saturday afternoon Meggie went to a friend’s house for a tea party. The tea was served in tiny floral cups with gold trim on the handles. It was so mild she thought it was like drinking warm water. Along with the tea there were delicious cookies (“blscuits” as her friend’s English mother said.) Everything was so perfect Meggie asked her mother for a tea set for her birthday or Christmas, whichever came first. But this was a long time to wait, so she asked, “Mom, could I have a teacup to practice with?” Meggie got an old teacup that she could fill with cold or warm water. One time her mother gave her some real tea to drink, but Meggie thought it needed lots of milk and sugar to make it taste good. Since then Meggie has always been fond of teapots and teacups. And she saw these when she was in England!
Meggie used to go on vacations with her family in their station wagon, and she was the kid who always asked, “Are we there yet?” even as they were pulling out of the driveway. She also liked to look for postcards to buy along the way. One time they drove on the Pennsylvania Turnpike to visit her grandmother. This souvenir was actually a little photo album with ten pictures.
On another family trip they went to Yellowstone National Park where she saw Old Faithful and other fantastic things. Meggie said, “It’s like walking on the moon.” Her dad took pictures on his Polaroid camera, and she bought a postcard as a souvenir of their visit.
Meggie usually remembered to bring spending money on these trips. If she forgot she would say, “Mom, could I have a nickel for this postcard?” Meggie liked to get several postcards so she could mail some to her friends as well as keep one for herself. It could be an adventure finding places to mail them when they were on vacation, like the time they found a rusty old letter box attached to the outside of a coffee shop.
These trips were always so much fun and Meggie still likes to travel and collect souvenirs!
When Meggie went to the department store in her town she would see things that she liked. One day she saw a small corduroy purse and thought it would be perfect for carrying her new lace handkerchief from her aunt. She asked her Mom if she could get it, but Mom said that Meggie should save her own money to buy it. This made Meggie think about her pink ceramic piggy bank. It felt pretty full but it didn’t have an opening in the bottom so she wasn’t sure how to tell how much money there was without breaking it open. Besides, she thought it might mostly be pennies so it wouldn’t be enough. How could she get more coins and dollar bills to buy this purse?
Mom suggested several things Meggie could do to earn money toward the purse. She also said, “You could save your money instead of spending it on penny candy.” Now this was something Meggie hadn’t thought about. She loved going to the corner store where she could get candy necklaces, caramels, lollipops, and taffy for a penny or a nickel. But she decided that she wanted the purse enough to save the money instead.
Over the next few weeks she didn’t buy any candy (this was difficult) and she walked the dog and kept her room tidy. She carefully put all the dimes and quarters she earned in the piggy bank. It seemed like it was taking forever to save money! Finally she thought it was time to check, and she shook all the coins out of her bank so she wouldn’t have to break it. After counting her money several times she had enough! Her Mom took her back to the department store and Meggie proudly paid for the purse. She admired it so much she almost didn’t want to put anything in it, but soon she was carrying it everywhere. She also started dividing the money she got for her allowance and birthdays into categories. She kept some for buying candy and saved the rest for things she might want in the future. It was so much fun picking up the piggy bank and shaking it to hear the coins inside jingle. What would she save for next?
Every summer Meggie went with her family to the beach on Saturdays. There were lots of beaches to choose from, and if they left early enough they could drive all the way to New Hampshire or Maine. Meggie thought the water was cold in Maine, even in August. But she always brought a pail and shovel so she could either build a sand castle or collect shells to take home. She had a large collection of broken shells, but she did sometimes find clam shells that were in one piece. Some of her favorites were shiny and orange, and she kept them in a small glass jar on her dresser.
She also liked swimming in the ocean, but she always stayed close to her family. For lunch her Mom would bring baked chicken, potato chips and carrot sticks. Meggie was always hungry and enjoyed the food, although everything had sand in it. Right after she was done eating Meggie said “I’m going in the water.” But her Mom insisted that Meggie wait an hour before going swimming “so she wouldn’t get cramps”. Meggie was sad about having to wait but she ended up getting her pail and collecting seashells for the next hour.
When it was late afternoon Meggie’s family would gather everything up and head back to their station wagon to go home. Meggie clutched her pail full of cheery seashells to keep as souvenirs. Although it had been an exciting day, she always fell asleep in the car and was surprised to find herself home so quickly. It had been a wonderful adventure.