Authors: Rebecca Martin
HARVEST HOUSE PUBLISHERS
Although the people in this story are imaginary, many of the events really happened. In 1894 several Amish families moved to North Dakota to claim a homestead. There the pioneers built and lived in their sod houses, endured prairie fires, blizzards, and droughts, and learned to earn a living from the land.
Cover by DesignByJulia, Woodland Park, Colorado
All Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.
BLOSSOMS ON THE ROOF
Copyright Â© 2012 Ridgeway Publishing
Published by Harvest House Publishers
Eugene, Oregon 97402
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Blossoms on the roof / Rebecca Martin.
Summary: Ten-year-old Ben and eight-year-old Polly are used to their parents' struggle to make ends meet on their Indiana farm in the 1890s and look forward to a better life in North Dakota where they will be homesteaders, but the windswept prairie will provide new challenges.
ISBN 978-0-7369-6367-1 (pbk.)
ISBN 978-0-7369-6368-8 (eBook)
[1. Frontier and pioneer lifeâNorth DakotaâFiction. 2. Depressionsâ1893âFiction. 3. Family lifeâIndianaâFiction. 4. Family lifeâNorth DakotaâFiction. 5. MennonitesâFiction. 6. Christian lifeâFiction. 7. IndianaâHistoryâ19th centuryâFiction. 8. North DakotaâHistoryâ19th centuryâFiction.] I. Title.
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olly stood with her nose pressed to the windowpane. “The rain has stopped. Can we go to Grandma's now, Mom?”
Mother came and stood beside her to study the clouds that tumbled away to the horizon. “It does look as if the rain is overâfor now. But the weather seems unsettled. What if another shower comes up? You need to be back by supper time because it's Saturday night.”
Ten-year-old Ben had a solution to that problem. “Grandma has that blue umbrella, you know. I'm sure it's big enough for Polly and me to walk underneath. Don't you think so, Polly?”
“Oh, yes. Grandpa opened it up one day, and it was huge.”
Ben's eyes danced. How many times had he stared longingly at that shiny, blue umbrella hanging behind
Grandpa's front door? How many times had he imagined what fun it would be to walk in the rain while holding up a roof to keep dry? He certainly hoped it would start to rain when it was time for them to come home.
Mother was still looking out the window. “All right, you may go. I do want Grandma to get this note today.” Carefully she folded the paper on which she had written a letter for her mother. “Polly, you may put this in your pocket.”
“I want to go too!” begged four-year-old Jakie when he saw Ben putting on his hat. Jakie was so excited that his red hair bounced up and down.
Mother said firmly, “No, Jakie. Today you can't go to Grandpa's. It might rain again soon, and you mustn't get wet. Remember, you still have a cough.”
“I'm all well again,” Jakie said, pouting.
“No, you are not all well, even if the cough is better,” Mother said just as firmly. “Now, Ben and Polly, you had better be off if you want to be back in time for supper.”
Grandpa and Grandma Yoder lived a half mile down the road. A half mile is not far to go for an eight-year-old girl and her ten-year-old brother, and certainly not when new, dark clouds are boiling up from the western horizon!
“It could start raining any minute,” said Polly.
Ben eyed the clouds. “Let's run.”
And run they did while the cold March wind nipped at their heels and the clouds rolled across the sky.
“I'mâI'm not even cold,” Polly said, trying to catch her breath while standing on Grandma's porch.
Ben laughed. “I'm hot! Running keeps you warm.” He reached up to knock at Grandma's green painted door.
Polly grabbed his arm. “It's my turn to knock. Remember, you did last time.”
“Okay.” He let his arm drop.
Polly gave the door two good, hard raps.
Just like that the door popped open, and Grandma's round, wrinkled face beamed out at them. “Come in! Come in!” she said, inviting them into the house.
Polly knew exactly where to hang her bonnet in Grandma's kitchen, and Ben knew exactly where to hang his hat. Beside the door were four wooden pegs. Polly and Ben knew the story behind those pegs. Grandpa had put up those pegs at just the right height for a girl to hang her clothes.
“Here's a note from Mother,” Polly announced, fishing for the folded paper in her pocket.
“Thank you,” said Grandma. “I must get my glasses.” Perching her gold-rimmed spectacles on her nose, she read Mother's note carefully.
Polly hoped Grandma would tell them what the note was about, but she did not.
Well, she did mention one part of it. “Your mother writes that you may stay for twenty minutes, and then you
must hurry home again. She also writes that if there is anything you can help me with, I'm to set you to work.”
Grandma smiled at Polly and Ben. “You know, I could use someone to sweep the porch and someone to churn the butter.” Grandma was a very busy person because she was the homemaker for her two grown sons, who still lived at home to help with the farm, and Grandpa. Both her daughters were married and had families of their own to care for.
“I'll churn the butter,” Ben said quickly.
“And I'll do the porch.” Polly grabbed the broom and went to work.
Up and down went the plunger of the big wooden butter churn. Ben listened carefully to the
sound inside, knowing that when cream turns to butter, the
turns to a
Polly had just swept the last corner of the porch when Ben shouted, “It's butter now! I can hear it.”
“Good,” said Grandma. She opened the churn, poured off the thick, white buttermilk, and then fished out golden globs of butter. “Here, I will put some butter into a jar for you to take home.”
“Oh, thank you,” said Polly. “We don't have butter very often since we sold our cow.”
Grandma's kitchen was silent. All three of them knew why the Yoders had to sell their cow, and Polly wished she hadn't mentioned it.
“And here are cookies for you because you were my good
helpers,” Grandma said briskly. “I'm afraid your twenty minutes are up already.”
“Thank you,” said Ben, munching on the cookie. Then he looked out the window and said happily, “Oh, it's raining again.”
Grandma was puzzled. “Why are you so happy about that?”
Ben glanced quickly at the blue umbrella hanging near the door. He knew he shouldn't ask to use it, but ever since Grandpa had bought it last year, Ben had longed for an excuse to use it.
Grandma saw him look at the umbrella. “You could use our umbrella to walk home in the rain,” she suggested.
A big grin lit up Ben's face. Another grin lit up Polly's face. Ben promised, “We'll take very good care of it.”
“Come out here on the porch, and I'll show you how it works,” Grandma said.
Ben laughed. “I know why we have to go out on the porch. If we opened that umbrella in here, we could never get it through the door!”
“See this little white button?” said Grandma. “First you push itâlike this.”
. Just like that, the umbrella blossomed into a big, round roof!
“Now push it way up and past that other little buttonâlike so. The umbrella is locked in place now.” And with that Grandma put the smooth, black-and-gold handle into Ben's hands.
He beamed. “See, Polly? There's lots of room for two under here.” Down the steps he went and out from under the porch roof. Rain began drumming on the fabric of the umbrella, but not a drop landed on Ben. “This is great, Grandma. I've never held an umbrella before.”