The girl with pussywillows

She reached out her hand to touch the delicate grey fur of the pussywillows. The grey, furry buds looked like small rabbit paws in a straight line marching up the branch.

“Here, want some, pet?” Grandpa asked. The girl nodded. “Yes, please!” Grandpa reached into his pocket and took out his jackknife. He was always with his jackknife. It came in handy in so many circumstances. Like cutting open the small, individual-sized cereal boxes they had this morning for breakfast. They knew they were for camping but why not have some on a Sunday morning?

Grandpa sawed the woody branch. Back and forth and back and forth until the branch snapped free. He handed the branch of pussywillows to her with a smile. “There you go, pet.” The girl smiled and grasped the branch with a grip that said these are all mine! With the other hand she took a finger and stroked each of the little grey buds, acknowledging each as a single mini bunny-paw.

The girl skipped along the beach in her brown, fleece-lined rubber boots. “Oats, peas, beans, and barley grow,” she sang. Although grow sounded more like trow. “Oats, peas, beans, and barley trow…” Grandpa strolled behind her, whistling along to her tune.

The cold breeze pinched her cheeks but she barely noticed. For she was a fairy with a magic wand, and if she said the magic words then the pussywillows would turn into real grey bunnies. She stopped singing and whispered, “Seashell,” and she imagined grey bunnies skipping alongside her.

“What would you like to be when you grow up, pet?” Grandpa asked.

The girl stopped and turned, her cheeks a flushed pink, her eyes like stars. “A belly dancer,” she exclaimed, not missing a beat.

“A belly dancer!” Grandpa chuckled. 

“Yes, with a pink, frilly dress.” The girl did a twirl.

“Oh, a ballet dancer,” Grandpa chuckled again. “I’m sure you will make a great ballet dancer.”

The girl giggled and skipped off down the beach. “Oats, peas, beans, and barley trow,” she sang.

That girl was me. Although I didn’t become a ballet dancer, I still hum that tune. And I still think pussywillows look like little bunny paws.

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