by Judith Allen
Our Millie needs a place to go to try to figure out life and the meaning of phrases.
|Our Millie and the Thinkin' Tree.
Our Millie used to say that sometimes you just need a place to get away and contemplate livin' before it gets too much for you. Listenin' to people talkin' can be downright confusin' and you can get all caught up in the words and maybe forget about laughin' and cryin' or even carin' about what's goin' on around you.
In which Our Millie is feelin' restless, goes to a special place to think, looks for the true meanin' of life and words and is unexpectedly pursued by danger resultin' in pain and sufferin'.
It was a hot mid-summer mornin' and Our Millie was already gettin' kind of bored and restless. She picked up her diary and leafed through it with a blue sigh. Every day was "Nothin' happened today." Or "Oh, I wish somethin' would happen." And here it was 9:32 in the mornin' and still nothin' had happened and it looked like it never would.
Our Millie plopped down on the porch steps with her chin in her hands and her eyes half shut and her ears half open to the conversation goin' on with Aunt Selma, Grandma and Big Mil as they were shellin' beans and gossipin' in their rockin' chairs. Grandma called it reminisin' 'cause Preacher Joe said gossip was a mortal sin. Aunt Selma said it was just catchin' up with the news, and Big Mil just laughed at all that and went on talkin'.
Our Millie had read all her Nancy Drew books and was lookin' for some kind of adventure but everything just seemed too ordinary and dull. Another deep blue sigh was followed by an interestin' thought. Nancy Drew found a lot of her adventures by listenin' to what was goin' on around her and makin' stories. So, Our Millie grabbed an old school notebook, some number 2 pencils and waited for the Big Thought to come to her. The first thing that popped into her mind was the meanin' of words. She scrambled up off the steps, called for Rusty the Pup and headed for her favorite tree to do some serious thinkin'.
Our Millie loved to think. It was her favorite thing to do along with fishin' with Pa and goin' to the store in town with Grandma, and maybe eatin' banana splits. But, thinkin' the Big Thought ranked right up there. And today she excitedly labeled her notebook Word Journal and began scribblin' questions as she leaned into her willow-tree by the creek. Pa said it was half dead, but to her it was beautiful and peaceful. She could hide herself under the drooping branches and there was an indentation where she just fit like a glove. She scribbled "fit like a glove" in her journal and drew a big star beside it. Giving the tree a pat on its roots she settled in for more thinkin'.
She liked havin' Rusty the pup with her. He was a pretty good listener and often smiled at what she said, or licked her hand in appreciation of her brilliant thoughts. Or maybe it was just taste of bacon she had had for breakfast. Sometimes he dozed, or chased squirrels 'til he got tired. Today he wandered off someplace and Our Millie was left alone.
First on her list was "knock me over with a feather". Aunt Selma was talkin' to Grandma about somethin' that surprised her when she said it. Was it possible to knock someone over with a feather? How big a feather would you need and how would you do it? She decided to try it on Billy Bug with a rooster tail feather. After she sneaked up on him and poked and pushed all he did was laugh and take the feather away from her and get her down on the ground and tickle her with it. She saw that wasn't such a good idea. Maybe a bigger feather would do. An Ostrich feather? But since she didn't have an ostrich this went into the Unsolved Mystery file.
Number two on the list was "as snug as a bug in a rug". Grandma said that when she tucked her in to sleep . Watchin' Big Mil hang the rugs on the line and beat them til the dust went flyin' she decided no bug could be snug in there. So it went into her impossible sayings' as long as Big Mil was around.
She understood number three "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". She wasn't sure about the measurements but she knew a tablespoon of cod liver oil was what Big Mil used every Spring to keep her from gettin' sick. Sometimes Billy Bug got away and didn't take it, and sure enough he'd get real sick and she wouldn't. He said that was alright though. He'd rather suffer anything than take that oil. Our Millie made a face as she put it in the Proved to be True file.
"Ask me no questions and I'll tell you no lies" really bothered her. Did that mean that if you were asked a question did you have to lie? She would never lie, well not much anyway. Miss Anna at Sunday School said it was a sin. Our Millie didn't know much about the sin part, but she knew that Big Mil would be after her with a switch and Pa wouldn't take her fishin' if they caught her lyin'.
She couldn't imagine doin' anything at "the drop of a hat". Wouldn't you have to pick up your hat and dust it off first? And why would "havin" an axe to grind" mean you were mad at somebody? Grandpa ground his axe to make it sharp for cut tin' wood.
Our Millie had asked Aunt Selma what "the cat's meow" meant and she said it was somethin' really grand. She couldn't understand that 'cause usually when Momma Cat and the kittens meowed it meant they wanted food, or pettin' or they were gettin' into fights in the middle of the night.
In her Can be done but takes a lot of work file was "you can't teach an old dog new tricks". She tried it with Tri-Pawed and as long as she had enough treats and kept him from falling asleep under the porch she got a little new trick done. It was much easier with Rusty the Pup.
Just as she was contemplating the difference between old and young dogs Rusty's big ,red front paws appeared under the willow branches, followed by his happy face and floppy ears. His tongue was usually lullin', lookin' for doggy kisses but today he had somethin in his mouth that he was anxious to give to Our Millie. She screamed and pushed herself to her feet as he bounded onto her with the biggest, black water snake she ever did see. Our Millie frantically got away and raced for home followed by a jubilant Rusty. On the way she stubbed her toe on a half buried stump and fell on her elbows and face. With scrapes, and tears and gasps for breath, Our Millie understood "scared silly" "run for your life" and "hurts like the devil " when Big Mil treated her scrapes with mercurochrome .