Saturday, January 28, 2012

Rosemary heard Charlotte pounding up her back patio steps well before she saw her.  Charlotte was singing a song, loud and off key, but singing just the same.  It was a Sunday school song that Rosemary remembered from her past.

                “Manny, just where do you think Char learned of that song?”  Rosemary asked him.  To her knowledge Charlotte had never attended Sunday school.  Charlotte’s Uncle Paul was doing a fine job raising her.  Sadly Charlotte’s parents were killed in a plane crash six years ago, when Charlotte was two.  Paul owned the hardware store next door and lived in the apartment above it.  Since Paul had the hardware store to run Sunday morning’s Charlottes’ attendance to Sunday school was almost nonexistence.  However, Paul behaved more Christian than most Christians did, he was a gentle soft spoken man that did very well at raising Charlotte.  A time or two Rosemary had witnessed Paul reading and teaching Charlotte of the bible and the many stories in it, even acting out some of the parts to score a laugh from Charlotte.  Nothing was more beautiful than Charlotte’s laugh.

                Charlotte’s personality was as colorful as Cyndi Lauper minus the orange hair.  In some ways she was mature beyond her years, and in other way she was just a giggly girl ready to bust into a dance move or throw a blanket over her head and spin around for no apparent reason, either way this is the reason that Rosemary and Charlotte made the best of friends because laughing was never too far away.  Even the 20 year age difference didn’t matter.  Charlotte’s huge blue eyes sparkle and light up whenever she speaks.  She has a head full of naturally curly honey colored hair.  Her sense of style is unmistakable, she has a way with clothes and outfits that blows Rosemary’s mind.  Charlotte could pull an outfit together and one would swear that it was going to look hideous, because it did on the hanger.  Then when Charlotte puts it on and adds a funky hat or chunky necklace with bright socks somehow it would look like it was made to be together.  It was like magic.  She was a designer’s dream.  Together they were forever getting into trouble or starting a new adventure.  They shared a love of reading and spent hours doing just that.  They have done everything from sailing with pirates on the Caribbean Sea to riding horses in the wild, wild, West.


                                                                As Rosemary was listening to Charlotte sing, Ephesians 5:19 popped into her head.  “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.  Sing and make music in your heart to the lord.”


                Within a minute Charlotte had burst through the back door like a whirlwind tornado into Rosemary’s kitchen, hugged Tops, and had grabbed a cookie from the bottomless cookie jar, while slamming herself into a chair at the dining table in her kitchen.

                “I can’t wait till summer,” Charlotte said.  “I’m forever pining for the grass under my bare feet.  You know that I got a way cool nail polish that matches my new pair of flip flops, right?  Happy Valentine’s Day, Rose!  Did you open my card?  I made it for you.  Did you get the Dad’s Root beer that I gave you?”  Charlotte exclaimed as she hugged Rosemary!  “I was wearing my red dress with the purple polka dots when I made it, just so you know, so I matched the card to my dress!”  And sure enough the card was red with purple polka dots on it, Charlotte didn’t miss a thing. 

                One of their favorite indulgences was to drink old fashioned soda pop of any sort, Dad’s Root beer, and Cream Soda or Orange sodas.  They were always drinking them and they would save the pop tops in a huge terra cotta wide mouth jug that sat in her living room.  Sometimes when they were bored they would play a game and try to see who could make the most pop tops into the jug.  Life just moved at a slower pace in Huckleberry.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Missing her family and her sisters are just a way of life for Rosemary.  Her parents are sewing their wild oats and traveling all over the world, having raised three daughters.  They are rediscovering each other and celebrating life. 

                Rosemary is the oldest of the three McDougal girls.  She has always been a bookworm and studious type with her nose in a book snuggled into a comfy chair, dreaming of adventure.  Rosemary’s parents displayed fabulous insight in naming the three sisters.  At very young ages they all developed personalities resembling their names.  Rosemary is just as her name sounds, pretty like a rose.  She has a sweet smelling personality with the potential of being prickly and thorny.  The nursery rhyme, “Mary, Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow?”  Sings its’ song in Rosemary’s life, she loves smelling the earth while digging in the dirt planting seeds and seeing them grow.

                  Henna the middle sister, very unique and extremely beautiful with dark henna colored curly hair.  Her personality is every bit as rich and colored as her hair.  One thing for sure was that no one is like Henna.

                Marigold is the sweet baby of the family with a heart of gold.  She is like a ray of sunshine even on a rainy day.  Marigold has a way of making everyone feel important and loved. 
                Although Rosemary misses her sisters drastically she prays daily for their well being and safety.  Hoping also that someday they all cross paths again and wind up on the same road but for now daily life comes and goes tending to erode the time like water running over dirt.  It just disappears. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Crossing the street at the end of the block Rosemary looked down Main Street.  The town of Huckleberry, lakeshore on Lake Tipawee, truly was as charming and enchanting as the name suggests.  The paved cobblestone street in which she was standing was built back in the 1800.  Each stone meticulously maintained as they were when horses and carriages traveled on them.  Lampposts happily lined the lane and were still lit every night, regardless of the weather, which for the most part was sunny, even in winter.  Rosemary didn’t mind the snow it was just part of her Montana life.  Thinking of this fact she pulled her long red wool coat closed and knotted her matching checkered scarf tighter around her neck, it was a bit chillier than she had thought. 

                Starting up the opposite side of the street she passed the “Tackle Shop,” owned by Fred Thompson.  Fishing was a main attraction and hobby for locals and tourists alike, so his store was born out of his hobby as well as necessity.  Fred was the newest shop owner in town.  A couple years ago while Fred and his wife, Vera, were vacationing here they fell in love with Huckleberry, bought this space, and never left. 

                Next of course was the “Produce Market,” owned by Mary Powell.  She supplied the townspeople with most of their fresh fruits and vegetables.  Mary was a nice lady but very shy and quite, she ran her store and kept to herself. 

                Benches were caringly placed in various nooks and walls along the sidewalk so a person could sit a spell if needed and visit passerby’s, or enjoy the flowers, if in season, growing in the pots next to them.              Passing the big shiny windows of “The Gen,” short for general was always bulging of everyday items.  Owner Gus was a bit ruff around the edges but his heart was soft as a marshmallow.  “The Gen,” was complete with a gas station in the back alley, odd place for one but it seemed to work out just fine. 

                 As if on cue in a play Tops stopped and waited in front of the next store, “Boutique,” owned by Bella Shawl which sold clothing designs by Bella Shawl.  This store tended to Huckleberry’s clothing needs.  Bella had wonderful taste in clothing, and fashion, for both men and women.  Out she came running up to Tops with a dog biscuit.  “There’s my girls!” she exclaimed with excitement.  “Just where have you been hiding yourselves?”  She asked, talking more to Tops than Rosemary, as she smothered Tops with affection. 

                 “Hello Bella!”  Rosemary gave Bella a huge hug.  “We have been so busy with stuff I haven’t walked for a week!  Sorry, didn’t mean to ignore you, I have so missed you.  Dinner at Bobby’s tonight?”  Rosemary asked.

                “I know how it is!  Dinner sounds great I can’t stay out here though I’ve got Mrs. Peterson waiting in the dressing room for her size 8 pants, better run!  Love you guys!”  Bella exclaimed as she ran back inside throwing kisses to them over her shoulder.

                “Well Tops.”  Rosemary said to her faithful companion as they crossed back across the street, facing “Paul’s Hardware Store.”  Paul Lewis was the owner as well as uncle to Rosemary’s best friend ever, Lucy Lewis who was 8 years old, Lucy and Rosemary spent ever available moment together.  No one could make Rosemary laugh as hard and long as Lucy.  They knew each other inside and out as well as front to back.  “We had better go get to work as well!”  Walking to her store on the other side of Paul’s and ending where they started, the bell sang as she opened her door to “Buy the Book” beginning her day as well.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

      Meet Huckleberry

                Rosemary loved to take her walk around Huckleberry first thing in the morning, strolling left out of her store “Buy the Book,”  Tops prancing along next to her with tail wagging and glancing up at Rosemary looking for approval her chocolate eyes conveying  happiness. 

                Huckleberry was a quaint little lakeside town with beautiful views of Lake Tipawee framed with the Mountains all around.  Huckleberry existed purely on the townspeople’s love of the Lake, and a longing to keep things simple.  Everyone had a laid back comforting attitude, truly caring about one another, and the better of the community.

                Rosemary owned the lot next to her store, this was the future home of Mainlot, the neighborhood square.  Someday this lot would hopefully be full of flowers, paths, maybe a tree.  Offering the town a place to gather and share in each other’s life even more.

                Passing  “Betty’s Bakery” big windows displaying bread, cinnamon rolls, and pastries of all sorts, smells of cinnamon and yeast wafted out promising of their gooey goodness.  Betty Heck, the owner, was a big hearted small woman with a laugh that was infectious.  She was like the queen of Huckleberry due primarily to her magnetic personality.  People old and young flocked to her and enjoyed her genuine nature. 

                Next on the street was “Big Bobby’s BBQ,” which boasted the best BBQ in Montana, or at least that’s what his sign said.  His windows advertised of his special sauces and a menu for tourists traveling through.  He “slow smoked every slab of meat in his state of the art, custom made, one of a kind, biggest best smoker.”  It said that on the window too.  Bobby Heck was an easy going fun man, his restaurant featured   desserts from Betty’s, due to the convenience of that fact that they were husband and wife, happily for 30 years.  Rosemary loved these two restaurants most of all, Betty and Bobby were like her parents, always offering her support and encouragement yet honestly when needed.  She would have to come back here for dinner tonight!

                “Cynthia’s Huckleberry House,” owned by Cynthia, was next on her journey.  This store was immaculately adorable and wonderfully done.  She offered Huckleberry’s residents and tourists beautiful flowers, plants, gifts and anything and everything under the sun, literally, because she had a greenhouse out at her place west of town.  Cynthia was an interesting artsy beatnik sort of a woman who had an unmistakable personality full of style that was purely her own. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

     As she stood back, admiring the busy scene full of festive townspeople, her friends, and even Old Man Roofus, she knew that this was the best present she could have asked for.

      “Is that not the way life is?” she asked Manny.  “Challenges are thrust upon us, and we succeed and gain strength we didn’t know we were capable of.  In the process we learn more about ourselves, our friends, and our lives.  We become enriched by the process.  It’s a present you didn’t expect.  It’s a present worth more than anyone would know to ask for.  That’s the magic of the season, the magic of life.”

     As Rosemary walked into the store for a much needed break, a red envelope on her desk behind the cash register caught her eye.  It bore writing on the front that read: ‘Please don’t open until Valentines’ Day!’  “That’s so far away!” she exclaimed.

     With a sigh, she said aloud, “Thank goodness for Ginger Cream Cookies!”  How else could she make it until February without opening the envelope?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

     With so many chores to do and odds and ends to tend to, the Moss Main Winter Festival came quickly.  The vacant lot next to the book store was hers, and it was an ideal location for the townspeople to gather, so it was the default location for the town’s winter festival.  Volunteering to be the president of the ‘Winter Carnival’, as the locals called it, just added to her already busy daily life.  Taking on something this big without thinking it through may not have been the best choice, but Mrs. Nancy (her only employee) had convinced her that she should be the one to do it.  Plus, this way, she could have some control over what would happen later in the year, with plans for a court yard and gazebo to be built on the property.

     Rosemary stood at the arched entranceway, Manny by her side, scanning the winter land she and her team had created together, with the newly found angel perched beautifully on top of the tree.  Snowflakes seemed to whisper from the sky, reminding everyone of the harmony of Christmas.

     She recalled John 10:9:  ‘Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved.  They will come and go freely and will find good pastures.’  Well put, Manny,” Rosemary said. “I could not have said it better myself.”

     Everything had come together just like clockwork, and she knew she should not have doubted it would.  The entire town had made donations for the tree and there was even enough stuff left over to decorate the spot for Santa to sit.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

      Old Man Roofus was always Rosemary’s first customer of the day.  He always bought a cup of coffee to go and was consistently very pleasant.  She looked forward to their daily morning exchanges.  He was a big mystery to her, though, as he never spoke of family, friends, or children of his own.  Rosemary didn’t even know where he lived, although she was quite sure he was not homeless, due to the fact that he was always very well dressed and smelled of Old Spice cologne, just like her Grandfather used to wear.

     Having finished the cookie baking, Rosemary jumped into the task of unwrapping ornaments, memories from Christmases past.  Going through the ornaments, she thought, is always a trip down a snowy memory lane, where footprints in the snow can lead straight toward one’s heart.  A faded red and white candy cane made from play-dough, with hardened fingerprints, provided fond thoughts of home.  There was the paper cut-out green tree that her sister had made when she was in the second grade, her baby booties that Mom sewed Baby’s First Christmas’ on.  These are the wonderful things that make the season glow with magic, she thought.  Thanking Manny for her family, she stood back and objectively critiqued her tree, deciding that, yet again, this one was the most beautiful.  As she packed the boxes away, she came across a nearly forgotten wooden trunk.  She vaguely remembered seeing it before, but over the years people had given her various items.  Inside the trunk was a beautiful angel.  Her dress was made of silk and felt as delicate as cotton candy.  She had a serene look of peace and joy, and Rosemary knew instantly where the angel would go.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

How in the world do I manage to get myself into these things?” Rosemary asked herself aloud, as she rolled what seemed like her hundredth ball of cookie dough in crystal white sugar and placed it gently on her cookie sheet.

     “I just jump into these things, Manny, never thinking of details.”  Manny was the name she had given God when she was a little girl, and she had continued warmly calling him Manny out of habit, as if he was standing next to her having a cup of Joe.  “I never take into consideration things like who’s going to make and sell all these cookies in the bookstore?  How come you let me get myself into this stuff, Manny?  Do you think I can raise enough money for a huge Christmas tree with decorations and all?”  Rosemary was so busy talking and mixing that she almost forgot the ginger and nearly burned a batch as she stepped on her black lab, Tops, who was her partner in crime, and always underfoot.

         While she was trying to concentrate on the task at hand, Philippians 4:13 popped into her brain out of nowhere:  ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me’, and she knew instinctively that Manny was listening to her ramble as she gazed out of the front big window watching the water on Lake Tipawee.

     It was only December 1st  she did have a little time.  Living on the floor above her bookstore, ‘The Bookmark’, so at least her commute to work was as easy as walking down the stairs.  Then all she had to do was go through her morning ritual:  lights on, ‘Open’ sign on, coffee on, unlock the door, and she was ready for business.  Rosemary prided herself on her store, and she had put in a lot of hours there.  When she was redecorating it a year ago, she had poured through design books and had managed to get the exact warm, comforting, look and feel that she was going for: oversized chairs, fun end tables, and smell-good candles to complete the whole book-buying experience......