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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Maggieís Herb Garden

Maggie stood on a chair at the kitchen sink filling the watering jug up. The chair wobbled a bit as it wasnít very sturdy. When she finished, she climbed down carefully and put the jug on the table. "Gran. Iím ready to water my seeds," she called.

Gran was down in the pantry looking for a jar of gooseberry jam. "Iíll 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 Granís 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, weíll take them outside and plant them in the garden. Itís a wee bit cold for herbs right now," Gran said.

"I canít wait to see them grow. Iíve never tasted chives before. Have I Gran?" Maggie asked.

"Yes, but you didnít know it. Letís see," she said, walking over to the planter box. "Soon weíll have chives, bay leaves, caraway, sage, rosemary, tarragon, and parsley growing. Letís go out into the garden right now and Iíll show you last yearís herbs and where weíll plant these ones. Letís 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, doesnít 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 wonít be ready until summer," Gran said.

"What are shallots?" Maggie enquired.

"Theyíre like onions. Your grandpa loves shallots, leeks, and onions too. Hopefully this year weíll 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; sheíd make rhubarb pies. Maggie smiled and licked her lips. She loved rhubarb pies.

"Hereís 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? Theyíre good for curing warts," Gran explained.

"Warts? I donít have warts and Iíll never pick up a toad," Maggie giggled.

"Daisies are good if you have aches and pains, and wort is good if youíre 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, thatís wonderful, lass. It wonít 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 didnít like to do was to pull the weeds out, but it had to be done. The summer passed quickly and soon Maggieís herb garden was at its fullness. One night Grandpa came outside and stood next to Maggie as she gazed at her herbs. "Isnít 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 theyíd 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 Maggieís parsley, and the best thing they had was Granís 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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