Bobbi was finishing up with afternoon chores in the barn when she noticed Georgia watching her work.
“Hey Georgia,” she said while tossing one last shovelful of crap (literally, crap) into a waiting wheelbarrow.
Bobbi wasn’t an expert in anything, much less 10 year old girls, but she couldn’t help thinking Georgia should be more talkative. Partly because she was Georgia and partly because she was a 10 year old girl. Wasn’t there supposed to be some kind of obsession with glitter, nail polish and various forms of electronic communication?
“What’s up?” Bobbi asked, just to fill the air with something other than the sound of work.
One word answers.
Maybe she’s super-advanced and moving from giggly 10-year-old right into angsty teenager, Bobbi thought. Then she tried to remember her own youth, tween and teen years. No glitter, nail polish or obsession with talking (via electronic devices or in person). The Mother’s Curse immediately came to mind: I hope you have a child just like you someday.
While no one had ever cursed Bobbi (to her face) and she’d never had a child of her own, she was beginning to think the curse would be laid upon her door (regardless). Yet, if the curse were true, then Georgia was here because she was just like Bobbi.
What DID I do back then? Bobbi pondered while filling a large trough with water. Georgia moved only enough to afford a better view of the water filling the container. The animals were outside, bleating, neighing, snorting and stamping to be allowed into the barn where the evening feed was waiting. At the Wild Raccoon, everyone ate the evening meal in some form of community gathering – even the animals.
“After dinner, I’m running into town to pick up a few things, do you need anything?” Bobbi asked, carefully fishing for information.
“A book about the Wild Raccoon.”
“A book about wild raccoons?”
“No, a book about THE Wild Raccoon. This place.”
Bobbi considered the request for a moment. “I don’t think that book exists. What, exactly, are you looking for – history, maps, wildlife, something else…?”
“I want to know why it’s called the Wild Raccoon.”
Bobbi indulged in a small moment of elation. She actually knew the answer to that question! “The farm has been around for a long time. Originally, it was a trading post, then it became a farm and a trading post. Either way, the primary item being bought and sold was fur. Back then, Raccoon fur was popular and this was the best place to find large quantities of good quality skins. So the trading post and the farm became known as the wild raccoon. Later, the farm moved from the kind of farming we do now into fur farming. They raised things like minks and ferrets with marginal success. At one point, someone tried raising raccoons, which is possible but difficult for many reasons, most of them social. But that was soon followed by the decline in fur sales and the anti-fur movement. So the farm went back to being just a regular old farm, but the name has always remained the same.”
“Why are raccoons social problems?” Georgia asked, her face and eyes taking on the animation Bobbi had become accustomed to seeing, which was a relief. The pseudo-teen angst was more disturbing than she realized at first. She opened her mouth to reply but changed her mind. “I tell you what,” she said. “At dinner tonight, ask both Erik and Aletta that question.”
“Erik doesn’t like kids.”
Bobbi rolled her eyes. “Erik gets crabby when has to talk to almost anyone. If you stand up to him and demand an answer – like I know you can – he’ll be nicer to you. I know, because I’ve done it.”
“Mom says I’m not supposed to talk to adults like that.” Georgia’s voice took on a sully angst-ridden edge, which was the information Bobbi had been looking for.
“Erik is old, but he’s not an adult. You can tell your mom I said that.” Bobbi stopped to consider this advice and wondered if she was going to regret it. “You don’t have to talk to Erik if you don’t want to. I’m not trying to get you into trouble. But you should talk to Alletta. She’ll appreciate the question.”
“Will you be there?”
“No, I’ll be in town with the rest of the errand-running crew. Tomorrow we can talk over dinner. As for tonight, the offer is still open – is there anything you need?”
Georgia gave this very serious consideration. “A frog book. But not a regular frog book, one about magical frogs or magical water. I know witches use frogs in spells and some frogs turn into things, like princes, which is weird, but it’s only some frogs, not all of them, so I think, maybe, it’s the water and not the frogs that makes the magic. Is there a book on that?” As she spoke, Georgia’s voice, face and hands gained momentum and animation. Whatever was clouding her mind was banished by the thought of magic frogs, or magic water or, maybe, just plain magic.
“I will go to the bookstore and the library.” Bobbi promised in absolute sincerity. “I honestly don’t know if this book exists, but if it does, I will find it and do my best to bring it home.”
Georgia smiled wide. “Thanks!” She said. “What do you think? Are the frogs or the water magic?”
Bobbi finished the rest of her afternoon chores while discussing the finer points of mystical frogs and potential magical elements. It was a fine way to make shoveling hay a little more fun.