March 11, 2021 · 2 comments · Categories: Musings · Tags:

After a few days of pleasantly warm weather this week, I’ve been wanting to get out somewhere fun and play hooky, rather than sitting at a desk all day. I even dreamed that I was a high school kid in detention for skipping classes.

But of course, no spring break again this year, so instead I went to visit my younger selves in the imaginary village of Channelwood for a virtual vacation. I found the two youngest ones hanging out at the beach: Peter, who was me at five years old pretending to be Peter Pan, and my seven-year-old past self Ponch, so nicknamed because of the woven poncho that she wore over her dress on breezy days like this.

Rocky hill by a seashore.

(Image credit: Aimee Elise)

Ponch had a bag of sunflower seeds and was eating some of them, but Peter was throwing handfuls to a noisy crowd of seagulls. Peter also was carrying on a lively conversation of squawks and chirps with the closest birds.

“Okay, that’s enough. You can’t give the birds all our food,” Ponch declared, pulling the bag away when Peter reached for it again.

“Why not? There are plenty of seeds in the kitchen shed. Queenie grew more sunflowers than we could use, just like she always does with her crops. And if Sara tries to make the best of it again by feeding us another pumpkin and cauliflower casserole full of sunflower seeds, I might change my mind about wanting her to be my mother.”

“Sara is very creative, and she wants the best for everyone. You ought to be grateful that she takes such good care of you. And…”

Peter cut her off mid-lecture by squawking loudly at the nearest gull, which had turned its head sideways to regard both children with a beady eye.

“The gull was complaining that I hadn’t brought biscuit crumbs instead. See, Ponch, even the birds have had enough of Queenie’s sunflower seeds.”

“You’re just making that up. And if you really can talk with that gull, you should tell it to be grateful, too.” Ponch tossed her head in annoyance and only then noticed me standing there. Evidently looking for an ally, she turned to me and asked, “Don’t you think so?”

What I honestly thought, in fact, was that I hadn’t planned on spending my imaginary spring break mediating a squabble between young children. But, in the interest of kindness to my younger selves, I tried to come up with a diplomatic answer.

“When people help us, it’s always a good thing to be grateful,” I said. “But if there are plenty of sunflower seeds, then sharing a few with the birds won’t do any harm.”

“Barrels of sunflower seeds,” Peter informed me, illustrating the point with hands wide apart. “And barrels of turnips, rutabagas, and lots of other stuff besides. Queenie is already starting to plant more. We couldn’t possibly eat them all, even if we wanted to. And of course…”

Ponch interrupted the obvious next sentence about not wanting to. “Peter, you still ought to be glad that we never have to go hungry. You know, there are places in the world where children are starving. If all you can do is complain about having too much food, then you’re just being silly.”

“Don’t preach me a sermon, Ponch. I saw you last night feeding your rutabaga to Ella’s pet mouse under the table.”

“Well, the mouse was properly grateful. It ate the rutabaga and didn’t complain.”

“Huh.” Peter, having created an effective distraction, took the opportunity to grab the bag and toss out another handful of seeds. That prompted a screech from Ponch that was even louder than the gulls.

Feeling grateful on my own part that they were both just fictional characters and I didn’t have any parental responsibilities here, I decided it was about time to cut my virtual vacation short.


  1. OH to be at the shore with seagulls! Would love it! I always enjoy your visits to Chanellwood.! But I don’t blame you for wanting to cut it short due to squabbling kids. 🙂

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