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The sky was just beginning to turn light when Mattie heard the birds waking up the way they always do. First

were the crows shouting their “caw, caw, caw”, then the blue jays who always sounded like they were warning

everyone about the day to come. Finally the cardinals, wrens, and goldfinches added their songs to the morning choir.

Through her open window Mattie smelled the fresh, dew-filled air and felt the breeze sliding down the hillside. She

stretched a little under the quilt Grandma had made for her last birthday, feeling warm and loved as she thought about

the day ahead. She could have stayed there longer but the morning bird choir called her to go outside and enjoy the day.

Today was the first green bean picking day and Mattie loved picking green beans. She usually had to remind

herself to only eat a few of the littler beans while she picked so there’d be plenty to pick again in a few days. Mattie

had always helped Mom plant seeds and pick things, but this was her first summer to be responsible for a whole

garden job all by herself. She waited forever for the beans to start growing and finally, just today, she’d get to pick

some ripe ones.

Mattie slid out of bed, trying to be quiet and not wake her cat, Orange Sugar, who was sound asleep on her pillow.

Of course that didn’t work very well. Orange Sugar had been waiting for Mattie to get up and when she felt Mattie

move she jumped down and headed straight downstairs to be fed.

After putting on her red shorts and purple blouse, Mattie followed Orange Sugar to the kitchen. Nobody else was

awake yet, which didn’t happen very often, so Mattie fed Orange Sugar, ate a banana and then headed outside to

run her bare feet through the wet grass. She had to wait until the dew dried before she could pick the green beans

anyway so there was plenty of time for another adventure first.  

After dancing in the grass for a bit, Mattie heard the stream gurgling its morning welcome and went to see if the

crawdaddies were anywhere around. They usually hid just under the edge of the big stones in the stream and then

would scurry across the gravel bottom if anyone came near. Not today. Mattie walked quietly in the chilly water for

several minutes and only saw frogs. The frogs were ok, but they weren’t as fun to watch as the crawdaddies were.

She looked up at the sun now shining above the treetops and decided it was finally bean picking time. Grabbing

her basket from the shed, Mattie headed to the garden and started picking. The yellow beans had to be picked first.

She didn’t know why, it was just the way it was done. When she got to the green beans her basket was already half

full and she’d eaten a few baby carrots along the way.

Mattie carefully picked the green beans, holding the stalks with one hand like Mom had shown her to do so she

wouldn’t break the plants. And then it happened. That feeling she’d had last summer once or twice, like someone was

watching her and then holding her hand while she picked the beans.

Mattie’s Magical Summer


A little bit of Chapter 1

The Hand In The Garden

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