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Another Muddy Pond Trip

Draft-horse-powered-sorghum-mill-squeezing-sorghum-at-End-Of-The-Road-Farm.-A couple of weeks ago, I invited four Grands on our annual Muddy Pond field trip to learn how sorghum is made and see a community different from ours. The two older siblings declined so five-year-old Ruth, who went last year, became her three-year-old sister’s tour guide. “It’s a long way, Elaine, but they have lots of sprinkles at the store. Gran, how many can we get this year?”

As we drove toward Monterey, I pointed out the colors of the leaves. Orange, yellow, red. “Do you see the huckleback brown?” Ruth asked. What color? Surely, I didn’t understand what she said. “Huckleback brown.” I don’t know that color. “There’s lots of huckleback brown. Look.” Little sister Elaine chimed in, “That’s not a real color.” Ruth said, “It is, if I say it is.” End of discussion.

I told my Grands that last year as we drove along a country road we passed a field that had big animals – elk, moose, deer. Ruth said, “I remember! Elaine, they’ll be on my side. Look over here.” We slowed down as we drove past the pasture where we saw the big animals last fall, but we didn’t see anything except a pond. Ruth said to Elaine, “You should’ve seen the big elk.” Elaine asked what they looked like. Ruth said, “Big like deer and they had horns. Antlers! Is that what they’re called, Gran?” I explained that only the males have antlers and when Elaine asked why, I took the easy way out, “Because that’s the way they’re made.” All was quiet in the back seat for a few minutes, and then Ruth said, “That’s not fair. Girls need antlers, too.
Unfortunately, due to wet weather the sorghum mill wasn’t operating. “Too bad, Elaine. There’s a big horse that walks and a dog that barks,” Ruth said. Before we went inside the Muddy Pond General Store, I told my Grands to stay close to me, and that we would buy sprinkles. Ruth shared more information. “Elaine, they have lots of candy and upstairs there’s a rocking horse, but wait for me to show it to you. Okay? And they have long dresses, but no toys. Can we get suckers like last time, Gran?”

We made a quick tour of the store, slowing down to look at the doll-size high chairs and cradles and for both Grands to rock on the wooden hand-made rocking horses. Ruth chose pink and green sprinkles; Elaine, blue and red, and I bought a dozen sorghum suckers, some to eat and some to take home to share. Elaine immediately ripped the cellophane wrapper off her sucker and the candy fell onto the concrete store floor. I offered her another sucker, but Ruth intervened and said, “It’s okay. The floor doesn’t look dirty.” Elaine picked up her sucker and stuck it in her mouth.

After we’d buckled seat belts in the van, Ruth asked, “Gran, did we miss rest time?” I explained that the ride home would be a quiet rest time. “So, Elaine, you can go to sleep, but I won’t,” Ruth said.

I didn’t even ask if anyone noticed how the Muddy Pond community is different from Cookeville. This field trip was about the sisters. Middle child, Ruth, had a chance to be the leader, and her independent toddler sister, Elaine, accepted her role as the follower.

Elaine slept all the way home. Ruth talked.