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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Maggie’s Herb Garden

Maggie stood on a chair at the kitchen sink filling the watering jug up. The chair wobbled a bit as it wasn’t very sturdy. When she finished, she climbed down carefully and put the jug on the table. "Gran. I’m ready to water my seeds," she called.

Gran was down in the pantry looking for a jar of gooseberry jam. "I’ll be right up," she called.

Maggie walked over to the six-foot long planter box and looked to see if anything was growing yet. It had been a week since she and Gran had planted the tiny seeds. She could hear Gran’s footsteps coming upstairs. Gran wiped the dust off with her apron and set the jar on the table. "Anything growing yet?" she asked her granddaughter.

Maggie strained to see. "Nothing yet."

"When they grow a bit and are healthy, we’ll take them outside and plant them in the garden. It’s a wee bit cold for herbs right now," Gran said.

"I can’t wait to see them grow. I’ve never tasted chives before. Have I Gran?" Maggie asked.

"Yes, but you didn’t know it. Let’s see," she said, walking over to the planter box. "Soon we’ll have chives, bay leaves, caraway, sage, rosemary, tarragon, and parsley growing. Let’s go out into the garden right now and I’ll show you last year’s herbs and where we’ll plant these ones. Let’s water them first." She helped Maggie with the watering jug and then said, "Follow me, lass."

Maggie went outside, right behind her gran. They went into the back garden. Near the house grew some mint. The leaves were dark green. When she bent down to sniff them, she smelled the strong odor. "What do we use mint for, Gran?" she asked.

"It smells nice, doesn’t it? We use mint when I make lamb or mutton. When it is mixed with vinegar, it makes a lovely sauce. Do you remember the last time we had lamb? You loved it and poured the mint sauce all over it," Gran reminded her.

"Oh yes, Gran. That was lovely," Maggie recalled.

"Over here we have shallots growing. They won’t be ready until summer," Gran said.

"What are shallots?" Maggie enquired.

"They’re like onions. Your grandpa loves shallots, leeks, and onions too. Hopefully this year we’ll have a large crop," Gran wished.

They walked around the garden. Gran pointed out the garlic, leeks, mustard and mace. She showed her the rhubarb and told her when it was ready; she’d make rhubarb pies. Maggie smiled and licked her lips. She loved rhubarb pies.

"Here’s where your herbs will go," Gran said, pointing to a square about six feet each way. "We just have to be patient and wait for them to grow a while longer."

"Why do we have herbs, Gran?" she asked.

"Herbs flavor our food and help with sickness. Did you know that mint is good for an upset stomach? See the dandelions growing in the grass? They’re good for curing warts," Gran explained.

"Warts? I don’t have warts and I’ll never pick up a toad," Maggie giggled.

"Daisies are good if you have aches and pains, and wort is good if you’re upset about something. All the herbs help us feel better and taste good," Gran told her.

Just then Grandpa came to the back door and called for Gran. She left Maggie outside and went in. Maggie walked through the plants; excited for hers to grow so she could see them get this big.

The next morning Maggie got up and ran into the kitchen to look at her planter box. She started to squeal with delight when she saw little green stems shooting up through the rich brown dirt. "Gran! Gran! Come and see. My herbs are growing!"

Gran came running through to look. "Oh, that’s wonderful, lass. It won’t be long before we plant them outside," she smiled and went back to her work.

Every day Maggie watched them grow bigger and bigger. Finally the day came to plant them outside. She and Gran worked hard, digging holes and putting a plant into every hole. Each morning after that, Maggie had to water them. One of the things she didn’t like to do was to pull the weeds out, but it had to be done. The summer passed quickly and soon Maggie’s herb garden was at its fullness. One night Grandpa came outside and stood next to Maggie as she gazed at her herbs. "Isn’t this wonderful, Grandpa? I grew my own herb garden." She looked up at him and smiled. He put his arm around her shoulder and gave her a little squeeze. Maggie was so proud. There were enough herbs here to last through the whole winter.

As summer came to an end, Gran had a big celebration dinner. It was going to be all the things they’d grown that year in their garden. Everything tasted so delicious. Gran made lamb with mint sauce; she seasoned the meat with some of the other herbs. They ate potatoes dug from the garden, carrots sprinkled with Maggie’s parsley, and the best thing they had was Gran’s rhubarb pie. It was a delicious feast.

As the first snow of winter fell, Maggie already had plans to grow more herbs next spring.

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