A Woodland Walk

slice-of-life2I am participating in #SOL19. Thanks to the twowritingteachers blog team for hosting this wonderful event. I am grateful.

This story is the second chapter I have written for a possible upper elementary or middle grade book about Sam and Molly and their two yellow labs.  Throughout this month, I hope to be able to share three or more chapters.  I am having fun writing them!

A Woodland Walk

“You can’t come with us today.  You have to stay at home,” Sam told the yellow labs as he slipped through the screen door. “Molly and I have an important project to do that requires all of our concentration,” Sam added to the dogs who were still smiling hopefully, both flashing their teeth in a wide grin.  This time, even their “smiles” could not change his resolve to leave the dogs at home. Lemons and Sunshine barked a few times to voice their opinion on Sam’s decision, and then they gave up when the twins opened the garden gate and walked out of the yard.

Molly and Sam went off down the dirt path that lead through the meadow and then broke into two separate trails. One would take them to the rocky beach at Webb Lake, and the other wound its way through shady trails covered with pine needles and soft shadows. Sam and Molly would take that trail today. Their sketchbooks and pencils were stored in backpacks along with their paperbag -picnic lunches – apples and homemade blueberry muffins.

Molly had helped her mom bake the muffins as well as a blueberry cobbler that would be served at dinner. Her mom often boiled the wild blueberries with sugar and dropped dumpling batter into the berries to cook – delish with homemade vanilla ice cream! Blueberry cobbler, crisp and grunt, a variety of cobbler, were all wonderful. Molly and her mom often made whipped cream from scratch to serve with the blueberry dishes. Baking was one of Molly’s favorite things to do with her mom.

She turned her attention to the plants that grew in the forest – first, noticing the mushrooms and the ferns. Ah, there Molly spotted a clump of honey mushrooms crowding the woodland path, their golden caps clustered along tree roots in disorderly clumps. She found a large tree trunk that had fallen by the path, probably uprooted by the winter’s heavy snows, and sat down to retrieve her notebook and pencils.

Sam stopped to take some photos – closeups – of the mushrooms. Then he knelt down on the damp forest floor and sliced through the mushrooms’ stalks with his pocket knife. He then placed them gently in a small basket, shallow and wide, perfect for fungi foraging. These honey mushrooms were edible. Their mom would appreciate some mushrooms to add to their evening dinner. Mom’s rule, however, was no tasting until they brought the mushrooms home for inspection. Some Maine mushrooms were not edible. Poisonous. Sam and Molly knew the difference as they had often foraged with their mom, but still, they had made a promise.

“Careful with your new camera,” Molly said without looking up from her notebook. “Mom is not going to replace it again if you lose it or damage it.”

Sam wrinkled his brow and shook his head. He did not need to be reminded that his prize camera sat somewhere on the bottom of Webb Lake.  “Don’t worry,” he said to his twin. “I’ve got everything under control. It’s a good thing it rained yesterday and the day before. Mushrooms like soggy forests,” he said to no one in particular.

After about thirty minutes, Molly and Sam resumed their walk. They stopped to sketch and photograph several species of fern that seemed to dominate the landscape. The Cinnamon, Royal, Sensitive, and Marsh ferns were everywhere.

Suddenly, a hammering noise directed their eyes upward. Molly whispered, “A Downy Woodpecker….no, a Hairy Woodpecker.”

“How can you tell the difference?” Sam whispered back. But before he could point his camera upward and snap a photo, the bird was gone.

“See that huge hole in the maple tree?” Sam had zoomed in and snapped a picture. I think he has found a buffet of bugs. He’ll be back!”

The twins moved on until they found a grassy spot to sit and have some lunch. It was probably time to head back home. “Maybe we can walk to Webb Lake and I can finally snap a photo of the loons dancing down the sun. And I’ll snap the picture from the shore,” Sam quickly added when he saw the look of disapproval form on Molly’s face.

When they finally arrived home, their mom greeted them at the back door. “Where are the dogs?” she asked them, her eyes scanning their backyard.

“What?” Sam said. “We ordered them to stay home. We left them behind in the house.”

“We have a problem,” Mom said. “Lemons and Sunshine were not here when I got home from my visit with your Aunt Susan.”

Molly sank to her knees and started to sob. “Don’t worry. Molly. We’ll find them,” Sam told her. “Come on!” Let’s look around the lake. You know how much those two love the water.” And with that, the twins took off again before their mother could stop them.