Mei-Lin carried the bamboo picnic
basket over her arm. It was filled with all kinds of goodies. She was glad
that she was able to take them to her grandmotherís house. That morning
her mother had asked her to do an errand. Mei-Lin loved helping her mother
and happily asked what it was. "Grandmother is not feeling well. She is
very tired. I want you to take her a basket filled with her favorite
foods. You know how much Grandmother loves mushrooms. Iíve also put some
rice, bamboo shoots, crab Rangoon, some sticky cake, a small bag of sesame
seeds, and a mango in the picnic basket."
"Iíll take them to her, Mother," Mei-Lin
"Sit down and eat your congee and
Iíll finish packing the basket. "Iím sending a set of chopsticks too," her
mother said. She looked out of the window. The sky was deep azure blue and
there were only a few wispy clouds in the sky.
As she ate, Mei-Lin thought about
the fields of pretty orange-red poppies that sheíd see on her way to her
grandmothers. She finished her congee and put on a red wool sweater that
her mother had knitted. She had embroidered pretty pink cherry blossoms
with long green stems and leaves all over the front of it. "Iím ready to
go now, Mother," she said, wiping her mouth with her napkin. Mei-Lin
picked up the picnic basket and headed for her grandmotherís house.
She ran down the dirt road, kicking
stones and chasing butterflies. She was about halfway there when she saw a
light brown kitten frolicking through the poppies growing at the side of
the road. "Hello there, little kitten," she laughed, moving towards it.
The kitten watched her carefully. It meowed and ran away into the field of
flowers. Mei-Lin chased it for a while but it was too fast for her. She
watched it run until it was out of sight.
Mei-Lin turned and headed down the
dirt road towards her grandmotherís house. She started to skip, being
careful not to tip the basket of food over. She stopped at a patch of
bright lemon-yellow tulips. "They are the same color as butter," she
smiled, picking a few for her grandmother. "Iíll put them in the basket
with the food. Sheíll like them," she said. When she opened the lid of the
basket, she smelled the aroma of the crab Rangoon. "Yummy," she said,
opening the foil bag. "Maybe I can take a small bite." She nibbled one
quickly. "That was delicious. I must have another bite." She took a
nibble, and then another, and another, and before she knew it, sheíd eaten
all of the crab Rangoon. "Grandmother wonít miss it," she whispered,
"thereís so much food in here." She brushed the crumbs off her sweater,
crumpled up the foil and threw it into a trashcan that was sitting at the
side of the road.
Mei-Lin hurried on her way. She
looked up at the clouds and tried to find one shaped like a heart. When
she looked back down, she saw a gray rabbit with long ears and fluffy
tail. "Oh look! A rabbit! Come here, rabbit. Come and let me pet you," she
called to it. The rabbit hopped away. She reached into the picnic basket
and took the flowers out and put them on the ground so she could reach the
sticky cake. She pulled a small piece off. "Come here, rabbit. Iíve got
some sticky cake for you." The rabbit, smelling the sweet cake, turned and
hopped towards Mei-Lin. It ate the piece of cake that sheíd thrown on the
ground. Mei-Lin tore another piece off and threw it down, but this time a
little closer to where she was standing. The rabbit hopped forward and ate
the cake. Soon, it was standing right in front of Mei-Lin. She ended up
feeding it the whole cake. When there was none of it left, the rabbit
hopped away. Mei-Lin kneeled down and looked into the basket. There was no
more crab Rangoon and there was no more sticky cake. "Grandmother wonít
mind. There are plenty of other snacks for her," Mei-Lin convinced
She picked up the basket, forgetting
to put the tulips back inside, and skipped down the dirt road towards her
grandmotherís house. She could see it off in the distance. Mei-Lin noticed
that one of her shoelaces was undone so she stopped to tie it. She sat
down on a rock. Just then a mouse ran past her feet. It was brown and had
a black wiggly nose and long gray tail. "Hello there, little mouse. You
look hungry. Would you like something to eat?" she asked it.
The mouse stopped and looked at Mei-Lin.
She set the basket down and opened it up. She spotted the bag of sesame
seeds. She poured some into her hand and tossed them to the mouse. It
gobbled them up quickly and wanted more. It started squeaking. She poured
the rest of the seeds onto the ground and the mouse ran up and ate every
last one of them. When it had finished, it wanted more. Searching the
basket, which was emptying quickly, Mei-Lin said, "There are no more
sesame seeds, little mouse." She found a jar of Chinese gooseberry jam.
"Wait a minute, little mouse. Iíve got a cruller. I know youíll like
this," she said, tearing it into small pieces and tossing them to the
mouse. It ate them quickly. The mouse loved the cruller. "Oh, so you do
like it," Mei-Lin laughed. When the mouse had finished eating the cruller,
it ran away.
Mei-Lin finished tying her shoe. She
looked in the basket. There was no more crab Rangoon, no more sticky cake,
no more sesame seeds and no more cruller. All that was left in the basket
were some mushrooms, bamboo shoots, rice, and a mango. "Oh my," said Mei-Lin,
"thereís not much left for grandmother. Iíd better hurry to her house
before itís all gone." Mei-Lin ran to her grandmotherís house and opened
the front door. "Grandmother, itís me, Mei-Lin," she called. "Iíve brought
you some food."
"Iím in the living room, Mei-Lin.
Come in," Grandmother called. Mei-Lin carried the basket into the living
room and sat it down next to her grandmotherís chair.
"I brought you some jam and some
rice and some bamboo shoots and a mango, Grandmother. Mother made you some
crab Rangoon, but it tasted so good that I ate it on the way over here.
There was some sticky cake, but I fed it to a gray rabbit with long ears
and a fluffy tail. There were some sesame seeds too, but a mouse ate them,
and your cruller. Iím sorry, Grandmother. This is all thatís left. I even
lost the pretty yellow tulips I picked for you," Mei-Lin pouted.
Grandmother took Mei-Linís hand.
"Donít worry, Mei-Lin. The jam and the other foods will do me just fine. I
wonít tell your mother. Now bring me the basket." Mei-Lin picked it up and
put it on Grandmotherís lap. "If youíll sit by me and sing some songs with
me for a while, I promise not to say a word to anybody." She smiled at her
Mei-Lin was happy. "Thank you,
Grandmother. I will stay and sing with you."
Grandmother was happy too. Sheíd
rather have Mei-Lin stay and talk to her and sing a few songs than to have
all the goodies that were in the basket. They spent the whole afternoon
singing and laughing. Mei-Lin told her grandmother about the animals and
flowers that sheíd seen on the way over. She even told her about the
clouds and how they were in funny shapes. "Iíll be back tomorrow," Mei-Lin
said, when it was time to leave. "Iíll bring you some more food and I
promise not to eat any of it or feed any of it to the animals I see."
She gave her grandmother a hug and
ran down the dirt road towards home. She saw the mouse playing in the
flowers. She saw the rabbit hopping around some boulders and saw the
kitten near a tall oak tree, chasing its tail. "Tomorrow, Iíll bring extra
for you all," she said and skipped towards home.