Barbara Allman



Grandpa's Bees

A long time before I was born, my grandma and grandpa moved into the house on Beechwood Avenue. They had a young family of four little girls. The little girls slept in the attic in a big feather bed. It was cold there on winter nights. Grandma put hot bricks under the covers at the foot of the bed to keep the girls warm.

During the Great Depression work was hard to find, so Grandpa did whatever jobs he could. He dug ditches during the week, and on weekends he and Grandma dug a garden to grow some of their own food.

The house on Beechwood Avenue had a big front yard with shade trees and fruit trees. In the middle of the yard was a water pump where the four little girls pumped water for cooking, cleaning and watering the garden. On one side of the yard Grandma and Grandpa planted tomatoes, beans, squash, cucumbers, peppers and strawberries to feed their growing family. They planted roses, geraniums, lilacs and irises on the other side of the yard, around the statue of the Blessed Mother.

Everybody worked to keep the garden growing. All summer long the family ate food from the garden and enjoyed the beautiful flowers. Grandma put up strawberry jam, tomatoes, beans, peppers, pears and peaches in canning jars. They were good to eat through the long winter.

The family grew up, and before too many years had passed, grandchildren came to visit. Grandma and Grandpa still planted their garden every spring. Everyone still enjoyed the good food from the garden and always took some home.

Grandchildren grow up, and grandparents grow older. It became harder for Grandma and Grandpa to keep up the garden, so they made it a little smaller. There was still plenty to eat from the garden and lovely flowers to enjoy.

Then one summer when Grandpa was eighty-nine years old, all he could do was watch from his lawn chair as the vegetables grew and the roses bloomed. Summer slowly faded, and Grandpa died before it was time to bring in the harvest.

It was a lonely winter for Grandma. She sat near the window, looking out at the yard and wondering if she should plant a garden in the spring. It would be hard to care for it by herself. When spring came, she planted only a little garden.

One sunny day in early summer, Grandma heard a commotion in the front yard and looked out the window to see a frightening sight. A gigantic swarm of bees filled the air between two tall trees. There were thousands of bees in the air, so many that the swarm reached the treetops! The buzzing sound was tremendous.

Grandma watched as the bees made their way into a hole high up in one of the trees. Before long, every one of those bees had disappeared into its new home.

Grandma wondered what in the world she could do. Should she hire someone to get rid of the bees? That could cost more than she could afford. She decided to wait and think it over.

During the next few days, the bees were busy minding their own business. Grandma could always see a few bees buzzing in and out and around the opening high in the tree. Before long, she decided the bees weren't bothering anyone, so she went about her business and didn't give them another thought.

That summer, Grandma's little garden grew and grew. The neighbors would stop to admire her huge crop of vegetables and puzzle over why their own gardens weren't doing as well. No matter, because Grandma had enough to give some away. Of course, everyone who came to visit was treated to a meal of good things from the garden.

One day, Grandma's brother Frank visited from Arizona. As Grandma made Frank a delicious lunch of squash pancakes and homemade applesauce, she told him the story about the swarm of bees.

Frank said, "In Arizona, the farmers often hire beekeepers to set up beehives near their fields. The bees pollinate the crops and help them to grow."

That was when Grandma realized that her bees had helped with the garden all summer.

"So that's why my little garden had such a big crop!" she exclaimed.

From that time on, Grandma always believed that since Grandpa couldn't be there with her to help that summer, he had sent the bees to take his place and make Grandma's little garden grow and grow.



Selected Works

Middle-grade Biography
Dance of the Swan: A Story About Anna Pavlova
Teachers! Click here for a follow-up cooking activity.
Middle-Grade Biography
Her Piano Sang: A Story about Clara Schumann
Kids! Click here for some musical writing fun.
Short Story
Social Studies
A World in Focus: Central and South America
Teachers! Click here for an introductory activity.



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