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The Rodent says my umbrella is babyish, but I don’t care. Mrs. Ordinance gave it to me. Yes, it has ducks all over it. “Ducks like rain,” sings Mrs. O, and I’m glad that Amanda the Rodent can’t hear her. What I don’t get is why more people don’t use umbrellas. Umbrellas should always be colorful. Black is too gloomy for a rainy day. If the wind blows hard and the umbrella doesn’t turn inside out, you might even fly. It’s been pouring for a week now and I’m so glad I have my babyish umbrella. (I will try not to poke Amanda with it.)

At Colby’s house, he’s allowed to keep the fire going. He has to wear an asbestos glove and be very careful. That’s a good thing…since there’s a DRAGON in the wood stove, or at least there was today. So. Much. Smoke!

Ice is Never Perfect for Long!

There’s a little pond in the woods near my house, and sometimes skating. Ice is like magic. It doesn’t happen all the time. But today, I fly over the ice like a girl in a fairy tale. The sun is  under a winter spell, so it’s always off to the side, never overhead. Tofu on ice is hilarious, skidding all over the place. At the far end of the pond, there’s a motorboat, under the ice. It’s been there forever, and nobody knows the story. I feel like I’m skating on top of history, on this new ice, in this new year!

A Summer Song in December!

My Dad makes jam from all the summer berries. He freezes them, first, then waits until now when it’s cold and standing over a steam bath of canning jars on the stove feels good.

“You do this with surgical precision, Andrew” says Richard, which means that Dad is really good at not spilling, and at getting all the jars to seal up tight. Also, he IS a doctor, after all. I love Dad’s blueberry jam best, but also the strawberry, since I helped him pick some of those berries way back in June. Jamming means we get summer in a jar, all winter long. Besides, Bird is in Bird Heaven, since we let her have some berries to peck at. “Fat Berry” says Beatrice Strawberry Bird. Maybe she is talking about herself?

Dear Deer, I wish I could pat you. You look so beautiful, standing there at the edge of the woods. Only your ears are twitching. The rest of you is still. But I can’t go into the woods, because it’s still hunting season. I have to make sure Tofu doesn’t either, even with his bright orange collar. Colby’s out there right now, with his dad and uncles. They almost always get their deer. My mom says we prefer to shoot our deer with a camera, but it’s true we eat meat. So it’s complicated.

For right now, I just stand in a clump of birches, holding my breath. Looking at a deer.

I wanted to be Hawaiian but it snowed.  So I had to wear my puffy jacket and it looked ridiculous. I snuck out of the house with no boots, though. Only flip-flops. (My toes think this might have been a mistake.) I went with Colby. He was a surfer dude. But then he had to take Darby and Cece, two of his sisters, home before we’d really gone anywhere. I kept going by myself, and of course I ran into Amanda and her friends and looked like a lonely loser in a stupid costume. So I went to Mrs. O’s house, which I always save for last, on account of the cookies, and a tall werewolf opened the door, and I screamed. Tricks can be so embarrassing if they happen to you. (Fortunately, I did get a lot of treats, too, including bubblegum.)

On the last day of summer, my mom took Colby and me to the lake. There was a grasshopper just floating around, far from shore, so I rescued it. It sat wetly in my hand, until we got near the rocks. Then it got up on my fingers, ready to leap off, like a dog in the bow of a boat. Colby said it is probably going to die by winter anyway, but I don’t care. I am a hero and my grasshopper is alive somewhere for now, under the trees!

There’s a toad in Dad and Richard’s garden. He loves to hang out by the tomatoes. Some people think toads are ugly, but I do not. So what if he’s warty? What’s cool is, he can dig himself down into the soil and pretty much disappear. I wish I could do that, especially when that nosy neighbor comes by all the time and asks me silly questions!

In the summer, we have thunderstorms. Tofu doesn’t like them. If I don’t hug him really hard, he hides under the bed. Sometimes helping somebody else not to be afraid works really well for not being afraid yourself. Because, actually, lightning is scary. Scary and beautiful!

The thing about rope swings is, you have to just let go. Otherwise you swing back onto the shore and you might even crash into the tree. I’m brave about rope swings. Colby is not. I tell him yelling helps. We practice on the playground swings and it’s fine. He just freezes up when he gets to the lake. I try not to tease him about it (even though it’s tempting), because it would be more fun if he did it, too. Wheeeeeeeeeeee!

My name is India McAllister and these are my true, random, sort of secret thoughts.

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