by Margo Fallis
A Basket For Grandmother
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 grandmothers 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. Ive also put some
rice, bamboo shoots, crab Rangoon, some sticky cake, a small bag of sesame
seeds, and a mango in the picnic basket."
"Ill take them to her, Mother," Mei-Lin
"Sit down and eat your congee and
Ill finish packing the basket. "Im 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 shed 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. "Im ready to
go now, Mother," she said, wiping her mouth with her napkin. Mei-Lin
picked up the picnic basket and headed for her grandmothers 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 grandmothers 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. "Ill put them in the basket
with the food. Shell 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, shed eaten
all of the crab Rangoon. "Grandmother wont miss it," she whispered,
"theres 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. Ive 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 shed 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 wont
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
grandmothers 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. Ive got a cruller. I know youll 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,
"theres not much left for grandmother. Id better hurry to her house
before its all gone." Mei-Lin ran to her grandmothers house and opened
the front door. "Grandmother, its me, Mei-Lin," she called. "Ive brought
you some food."
"Im 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 grandmothers 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. Im sorry, Grandmother. This is all thats left. I even
lost the pretty yellow tulips I picked for you," Mei-Lin pouted.
Grandmother took Mei-Lins hand.
"Dont worry, Mei-Lin. The jam and the other foods will do me just fine. I
wont tell your mother. Now bring me the basket." Mei-Lin picked it up and
put it on Grandmothers lap. "If youll 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. Shed
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 shed seen on the way over. She even told her about the
clouds and how they were in funny shapes. "Ill be back tomorrow," Mei-Lin
said, when it was time to leave. "Ill 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, Ill bring extra
for you all," she said and skipped towards home.
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