The hill seemed to get steeper and steeper with each trip to the top, but mom said if you wanted that punkin to grow you would have to water it and take care of it. So each morning he lugged six buckets of water to the top of the hill where the small garden was, where there was new ground. It had not rained in a long time now, seemed like forever, and here it was the middle of June. He had three little punkins on his vine, three punkins and he had to decide which one to keep. He hoped it would grow really large by the time the county fair was held.

The two buckets which he filled at the well and started out with were only about a quarter or half-full by the time he made got to the top and slowly poured the precious water on his punkin plant. Each time he poured water on his plant, he would kneel down and talk to it, and with each trip the talking became longer and longer. “Tomorrow I will pick which of you will be the one, the one that will go to the county fair,” he said. He had just poured the water from his fifth trip on his plant. “Got to go home now and do my chores before supper time. After supper, Dad is reading to we children about Brer Rabbit,” he said in all earnestness.

Mr. Brown had cleared about an acre, cut the timber to add on to the house. He planned to plant the new ground in tobacco but after so many people had become cancer victims, Mr. Brown had decided to plant a small truck garden. It had started off grand until he had an accident. He had been in a wheel chair for nigh on to two months now, but Joe had planted his two punkin seeds over next to the big oak in the fertile soil.

Mr Claiborne had given Joe two seeds after he cut his championship punkin and sold them to a seed company. He knew how much the small boy admired this large punkins.

It had turned dry and there was no way to get any water up to the truck garden so Mrs. Brown had finally said, “Seth, let it be. You get well and the children and I will work our garden. I will can extra, you just get well.”

Joe worked hard for his mom so he could buy some Miracle Grow to put on his punkin. He had decided which one to keep and began to feed the plant just as Mr. Claiborne had told him to do. Things were going fine and the punkin had started to grow, growing in the rich black new ground soil.

It was the 14th of August when it happened. It had been hot as could be and that morning the sky was clear as a bell. But about eight or so clouds began to form and to build until by two in the afternoon the clouds were gigantic.

“Joe, I don’t think you need to go water your punkin because it is going to rain a big thunderstorm,” his dad said. But Joe went early in case the rain did not come, for he had learned about the numerous false alarms on rain all summer.

Joe and his mom and sister were out in the garden picking fresh peas when all at once there was a crack of thunder that scared the be-jeepers out of them all.

“Get to the house children and close the windows and doors,” mom said, knowing that her two children could outrun her and that bushel basket half full of peas.

They all scampered to the house and the wind began to blow. The trees shook and then all at once the rain came down as if Niagara falls was coming down. Lightning hit over across the field near the big old sycamore tree in the pasture. It split the tree and the sparks and fire flew everywhere.

“Hope it doesn’t hail Dad, you think it may hail?” Joe asked his dad.

“Son, when clouds build that high, it is very cold up near the top of them and that crazy old weather pushes the falling rain back up and that is how hail forms. Yes, son it could hail, but your punkin has a good hard shell,” he said. He he tried to reassure his son that everything would be fine.

It rained hard. The rainwater was running down the ravine next to the house and then the creek between the house and the road started to rise, until the small creek was a couple hundred feet wide and very deep. Thunder and lightning had the whole family looking, watching and ooohing and aaahing with each strike or giant clap. Mom turned the radio on and heard about the heavy rain and flooding. Then about four it stopped and the sun popped out.

“Stay out of the water, don’t go into the water for there are all sorts of things and it could grab you and pull you into the flow. I would not be able to save you,” Dad said, and both Joe and his sister understood.

The next morning the creek was pretty much down when Joe looked at his dad at the breakfast table. “Guess my punkin won’t need watering today, reckon so Dad?”

“I very much doubt it, but after breakfast you had better go up and check out your punkin, and see if there were any lightning strikes up on the ridge.”

The path up the hill was still muddy and slick. Joe fell four times before he got to the top of the hill. As he walked across the opening he was staring at the cleared ground and realized something was wrong. Then as he broke into the opening he saw it. The big old tree was on the ground. Tree limbs were spread over about half of the garden area, the new ground.

Joe began to run, and saw that where his punkin was was where the main part of the tree trunk had fallen. “Punkin, oh my punkin!” Joe yelled.

Sure enough, the trunk of the tree had fallen on his punkin. The small boy was devastated. “Guess God did not want me to enter that contest,” Joe said. He walked slowly around looking at where his punk had been yesterday.

Joe turned and ran back to the house. “Mom, Dad! My punkin got smashed. That big old tree fell on it. That big old tree is spread over most of the new ground.”

“Remember what you were told," his mom said. "The punkin did not need the protection of the big tree and should have been planted in the open, where it could have gotten lots of sunshine.”

“Yes Sir, yes Maam. "Well a boy like me sometimes has to learn the hard way,” he said with a dejected smile. “But next year I will plant me three or four punkin seeds, all out in the open.”

Joe turned to his mom. “I need to start earning some money so I can save enough for some of those winning seeds and good fertilizer.” Joe got his sister and went down in the meadow where he looked to see if any prizes had been swept into their field. Fate had struck, but like most all small boys, the set-back lasted for about half-an-hour.




 








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My Heart Belongs To Sammy

No Barefeet

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