"Ida B," Mama said to me on one of those days that
start right and just keep heading toward perfect until you go to sleep,
"when you're done with the dishes, you can go play. Daddy and I are going
to be working till dinner."
"Yes, ma'am," I said back, but I said it like this, "Yes, may-uhm!" because I couldn't wait to get on with my business. I could already hear the brook calling to me through the back door screen. "C'mon out and play, Ida B. Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up." I had three places I wanted to visit, six things I wanted to make, and two conversations I hoped to have before dinnertime.
Mama was washing, Daddy was drying, and I was putting away the dishes from lunch. And I knew that the moment I set the last pan in its place, I was free. But the way those two were chatting and laughing and acting like we had till next week to finish up, I could see it was going to be a while.
My insides started itching and my feet started hopping, one then the other, because they were ten minutes past being ready to go. So I decided to speed things up a bit.
Daddy'd hand me a dish, I'd sprint to the cupboard and put it away, race back again, and put my hand out for the next one, with my right foot tap, tap, tapping the seconds that were ticking by.
"Hold your horses, Ida B," Daddy told me. "There's plenty of time to do whatever you're planning." And he passed me a plate, slow and easy.
Well, that stopped me in my tracks. Because what Daddy said might have seemed all right to him, but it was sitting about two miles beyond wrong with me. I wasn't going to be able to put away another tiny teaspoon till I set things straight.
"Daddy," I said, and I waited till he was looking at me before I went on.
"Yes, Ida B," he answered, turning toward me.
And staring right into his eyeballs I told him, "There is never enough time for fun."
Daddy's eyes opened wide, and for a half second I wondered if I was in for something close to trouble. But then the two ends of his mouth turned up, just a little.
"Ida B," he told the ceiling while he shook his head.
"Hmmmmm," Mama said, like a smile would sound if it could.
And as soon as Daddy handed me the big frying pan, I set it in the drawer next to the oven, and I was on my way.
"Come on, Rufus," I called to Daddy's old floppy-eared dog, who was napping under the table. "You can come, too, so you'll have some company."
Now, a school of goldfish could go swimming in the pool of drool that dog makes while he's sleeping. But as soon as he heard his name and saw me heading for outside he jumped up, cleaned up the extra slobber around his mouth, and in two and one-half seconds' time, he was waiting for me at the back door.
On my way out of the house, I grabbed a pencil and enough paper
to make four good drawings and one mistake. And in my right pants pocket, I
stuffed some string to tie the sticks together for the rafts I build and send
down the brook with notes attached to them saying things like:
What is life like in Canada?
Ida B. Applewood
P.O. Box 42
Lawson's Grove, Wisconsin 55500
If this raft reaches the ocean, will you please let us know? Thank you very much.
P.O. Box 42
Lawson's Grove, Wisconsin 55500
It is my belief that the brook ends up at one of those two places, but I haven't heard anything back yet to prove that. The best I've gotten so far is some old man from way up in Roaring Forks called up Mama and Daddy and told them I was sending out notes with my name and address on them and they might want to discourage that.
From Ida B. Copyright © 2004 by Katherine Hannigan.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by permission of Greenwillow Books
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