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Chapter 15 - Family gathering

Chapter 15 - Family gathering

 

 

It was the last weekend before school started. Rachel did not have time to be nervous about it because this was the weekend when many relatives would come to a family gathering at Rachel’s home. At the same time it was going to be a house warming party since not many relatives had seen their new home at number 10, Berry Lane.

Rachel felt good about meeting her cousins and aunts and uncles and granny and granddad after a long time. Mom’s dad had died before Rachel was born, and Dad’s mom many years ago. Rachel had sometimes wondered why granny and granddad could not live together. Then they would always have company.

- That would require a sprinkle of that special something, Mom had answered.

- What something?, had Rachel asked.

- Love!

A sprinkle of love! That sounded simply adorable!

This time Dad had baked all kinds of treats for the weekend, and on Friday evening Mom fried doughnuts. The master of the green house had promised to bring on Saturday morning loads of fresh apples to decorate the small tables scattered all around the yard.

Mom had suggested that the worn out hammock should be taken to winter storage but she had quickly withdrawn the suggestion when Rachel had shrieked:

- If it is taken away I cannot get any cubes!

That sounded so serious that the hammock could stay where it was.

Saturday morning dawned and the bustle started right after. When Rachel got to her feet and begun her day by taking Harry out, Mom’s two sisters were already in the kitchen sorting out dishes.

This was supposed to be a so-called bring-a-dish party where everyone brought something along so that Rachel’s family would not have to take care of everything. Mom’s sisters had brought extra tableware because so many people were expected to show up. One of them had baked a large box of biscuits and another a big bag or light and dark rolls that were to be accompanied by various brands of cheese filling half a bag.

Rachel waited Harry to accomplish his pee and then went into the kitchen to listen to the chat.

- Hello Rachel with a big R!, noticed one aunt Rachel and gave her a hug.

- What do you mean, big R?, groaned Rachel in the squeeze.

- When I last saw you, you were so little that even your name had to be written with a small r.

- Hello Racheline, another aunt also noticed her, and Rachel learned that at least the crushing power ran strongly in the family.

When Rachel got clear from the aunties’ she sat at the kitchen table and took Harry on her lap to keep him clear from the bustling aunties’ feet. Ringel stayed put above the table. He rather gave way than let people walk through him. He said that it felt like the wind had felt when Sadie had thrown stones through it. It did not hurt but it did not feel pleasant either. So Ringel preferred to stay in places that were not in people’s passageways.

Ringel had informed the flowers and buggies of the yard about the upcoming event so that everything would go smoothly. The autumn flowers were putting more effort into their blooming today, and the buggies intended to fly on their errands only slowly in order to keep everyone calm.

The master arrived with his apple buckets. He and father spread white sheets on garden tables and decorated the tables with apple arrangements. Apart from pleasing the eye, they also offered a snack for the relatives. Father had invited the master also to stay, which he did, rather bashfully, because he had not been attending any kind of celebration in a long time. He had left Beastie to guard his house against intruders, and left him a large bowl of fresh water and another full of crunchy dog snacks. In the evening Beastie would receive a big bone as a reward for its guarding duty, so his affairs were in fine order.

Little by little the relatives started arriving and the house began to fill of cheerful chatter. Tabletops were laden with all kinds of food that they had brought along. Mom and her sisters tried to figure out the best order to serve everything, but in the end they gave up and decided that the best way was to leave everything as it was, on the tabletops, and each could serve themselves to whatever they liked, whenever they liked, and there would be drinks available in the living room. One sister took charge of tea and coffee, the other of children’s juices and Mom of grownup’s cocktails.

 

Rachel had not remembered how many cousins and small cousins she had! There were so many boys and girls, small and tall. Rachel enjoyed spending time with other children in a long time. She had a knack for detecting whether other people were able to see Ringel. Much to her disappointment, none of the cousins could see him either. Well, they were able to see Harry who had an intense day becoming acquainted with all his new relatives. He would always start by greeting them with “Harry yip hi!” and then proceeding to tell his entire life story: ”Yip-yip-yip-yip-yip…!”.

When all relatives had arrived and the most important news had been exchanged, it was time for the program. There was no official program for the gathering, people just wanted to spend some nice time together, so a band had been assembled of the relatives. It consisted of only one member, Dad’s brother, who played accordion and sometimes sang.

When the children were playing tag, mirror and ten sticks on the board (while naturally eating at the same time – it was especially challenging to play tag while eating ice-cream), the grownups were having snacks and enjoying grownup cocktails, and in no time had the first pair the courage to start an accordion waltz on the lawn, soon another pair joined them and then the third, and finally the whole yard was full of dancing.

Children also got interested in learning the accordion waltz with adults and between themselves until they were ready to go back to their own games.

Even the master of the green house had to dance when one of Dad’s sisters spotted an unknown gentleman trying to keep aside! After that all Dad’s sisters got so excited about the master that he had no rest from dancing for the rest of the evening!

Rachel stayed at the dancing area. She was thinking of how to get a sprinkle of love between Granny and Granddad. Ringel had no intention of getting involved, he only said: - Love comes if it’s right and goes when it’s not.

The moment was right if only Rachel knew what to do. Granddad was sitting at one garden table and grandma at another. Rachel decided to investigate. First she went to granddad.

- Granddad, do you have a grandmother friend?, she asked, in her own opinion, very discreetly.

- Well, not a friend like your grandmother was, answered granddad with a twinkle in his eye.

That made Rachel guess that a grandmother friend would be a good thing. Next she went to check granny’s situation.

- Granny, do you have a grandfather friend?, she continued in her discreet manner.

- Well, not a friend like your grandfather was, answered granny smiling.

“A match made in heaven!”, thought Rachel and presumed that the time was right to bring these two lonely darlings together. Rachel returned to granddad to continue the questioning in the same tactful manner.

- Granddad, do you like my Granny?

Granddad gave a surprised look at Rachel, and then glanced at Granny following the situation amused.

- She looks like a very nice lady, gave Granddad his evaluation.

And back to Granny.

- Granddad says he likes you. Do you like Granddad?

Granny gave a surprised look at Rachel, and then glanced at Granddad following the situation also amused. Granddad was smiling and a smile also spread on Granny’s face.

- Your Granddad is a very nicelooking gentleman, said Granny.

- Are you thirsty?, asked Rachel next.

- Well, it seems that I have not had anything to drink yet.

This was enough information for Rachel. She rushed in. Ringel was keenly following the situation. Even though he could read thoughts, Rachel’s thoughts formed the moment she started acting so the outcome was quite unpredictable, even to Ringel.

Rachel went to the grownups cocktail bowl, poured some drink into a glass and wondered how to spice it with some love. He thought that it would be enough for one of them to drink it and because granny obviously was thirsty, the love potion would be offered to granny. Mom appeared suitably in the living room.

- Mom, Granny does not have a drink so I came in to get her one, but we should add a sprinkle of love in it. What should we put in it?

Mom felt like laughing. She wanted to play along; the thought of a sprinkle of love was so attractive. So, followed closely by Rachel, she walked to the spice shelves in the kitchen, inspected the spice containers with an expert expression, and suddenly seemed to notice the exactly right one.

- Ah, here we are! Exactly the right ingredient!, she exclaimed and took some cardamom off the shelf, sprinkled it with a mysterious look in Granny’s drink and then whispered in Rachel’s ear:

- It is ready!

Rachel was exhilarated. Now she had a drink with a sprinkle of love! Rachel crinkled her eyes towards Ringel, as if saying “gotcha!” and hastened out.

- Granddad, Granny is thirsty. Would you mind taking this drink to her because I have something else to do?

Granddad was a little bit surprised because his table was actually further away from the house than Granny’s. Why hadn’t Rachel just left the drink to Granny while she passed her on her way to him? Then Granddad put together one plus one, meaning Rachel’s questions and getting the drink, winked his eye to Rachel telling that he was in on the plot, and left to take the drink to Granny. Rachel ran behind a bush to follow the situation.

Granny was laughing away and so was Granddad. Rachel’s subtle way of working was second to none! However, they started talking about all kinds of things and noticed that they had a lot in common. Both liked travelling and reading books and taking a sauna every now and then and playing solitaire. They had also been playing social card games in their youth so Granddad fetched a deck of cards from the house and they started refreshing their skills in playing bridge, casino and marriage.

Other relatives attempted to go and talk with them from time to time, but gave up pretty quickly when they noticed that Granny and Granddad were only concentrating on their games.

Rachel decided that she had accomplished what she set out to do so she left her hiding place and joined the other children playing their games. Ringel was so interested in watching Granny and Granddad play that he stayed following them and kept an eye on Rachel from further away.

Ringel was a little bit surprised to see Rachel succeed so well with her plan. Angels spent a lot of time weaving complicated plans to advance humans' lives in the best possible way. But this little girl had moved from point A to point B through the straightest route possible without any preplanning and yet, everything had worked out. This is why Ringel liked being a guardian angel. He knew a lot about human beings but still sometimes he was surprised by some unexpected turns and got a chance to learn new things.

Just today the six-year-old Rachel had taught him something very valuable. It was that things can work out perfectly without any kind of preplanning. That gave Ringel a lot to think about.

The day had turned into an evening. A sense of tiredness was spreading around and relatives started thinking of leaving to their homes. Rachel was sitting at the yard eating apples with the rest of the children. Only Harry was up and running. He had taken naps at regular intervals and had just woken up once again as bouncy as a tennis ball.

Suddenly the sound of clacking was heard above the forest. The mallards and the ducks from the pond flew by in a formation. They were shouting to Rachel that they are now leaving to south for the winter and will teach Harry to swim and dive when they come back the next spring. Harry had behaved really well all summer.

- Goodbye!, they shouted from the air.

- Goodbye!, shouted Rachel back.

- Godspeed!, wished Ringel.

- Hi yip-yip-yip!, greeted Harry.

- Goodbye!, shouted the whole family to the birds even though they could not understand bird language.

 

The formation of the ducks and mallards was an astonishing sight. Ducks and mallards do not normally even fly in the same formation, knew those who knew anything about birds. The issue was studied long and hard. Only Ringel knew that mallards and ducks had carefully planned the fly-by and timed it at Rachel’s family gathering to entertain the guests. They made a wonderful job at that!

But the strange things did not end there. The buggies that had been acting very calmly so far, got so excited about the fly-by of the mallards and ducks that they immediately held a grand conference, and a moment after the family had even more to think about when over the yard flew a formation of buggies, led by the Buggie Queen supported by six buggie guards. And not only once, but for three times this extraordinary sight buzzed over the yard so that each spectator could personally become assured that what they were seeing was really true, and the uncle was able to take several pictures as evidence!

 

 

The phenomenon was discussed for a long time in scientific publications but no one could come up with an explanation for it. Had they asked Rachel, she could have told them how the buggies always got excited of just about everything and were masters at imitating anything, even seeds of policeman’s helmet! Flying in formation was almost too easy for the buggies!

As there was a camera at hand, the whole family was gathered to a family portrait. The smallest ones noticed that this was an excellent moment to start playing hide-and-seek, and it took a long time to find each and every one for the picture.

 

 

 

Little Walter was the last one to be found. He had crawled into Harry’s doghouse and would have stayed there much longer undetected had not Harry once again attempted to take one of his naps in his already occupied house and loudly whined at the situation! Finally everybody was there and the pictures could be taken. Afterwards everybody wondered who was this boy with brown hair and blue clothes that was standing next to Rachel. No one remembered seeing him but he looked familiar to everyone. How strange!

The night had fallen and the relatives started leaving to their homes close by or far away. It had been such fun to meet after a long time! Rachel’s family was showered with invitations to visit everyone. The whole family noticed that granny and granddad left in the same car, looking remarkably happy! This made everybody smile with happiness when the two lonely persons so dear to them had found a new friend in each other – if not even more! Time would tell.

Only Mom’s sisters stayed the night. Rachel thought that the three sisters had so much to talk about that they did not have time to sleep at all that night.

Rachel was sleepy. The day had been long and lively. She glanced at the angel picture and decided that she was far too tired to brood over anything that night. She said her customary evening prayer and ended it by thanking of the nice day they all had shared, and that granny and granddad had liked each other. Special thanks went to Mom who had known from which container the sprinkle of love could be found. Without it, granny and granddad would probably still be lonely!

 

Harry was already snorting on the blanket and the sound of Rachel’s breathing turned into a steady snuffling of sleep. Ringel watched Rachel and Harry already running in their dream at the flower meadow but he did not join them just yet. For a moment, he just wanted to be, to listen to the sounds of dreams and think how simple life can be when you are six years old.

After finishing his thinking, he joined Rachel and Harry’s dream and flew the most splendid patterns on the dream sky that he had ever made!

 

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