The wind whipped up the leaves tossing them across Grammie and Grandpa’s pasture. It tugged at scarves unwinding them from around little faces. It played with the pom-poms on top of hats and at the end of strings.
“Get more leaves!” Aunt Abby said swinging her arm. “Make a big pile.”
“Aunt Abby,” Bruce said. “It’s a very blustery day. Is it Winds-day?”
“No, today is Sunday. It’s Family Day, Bruce.”
“Aunt Abby,” Jules said. “Why are we gathering all these leaves even though the wind doesn’t want us to?”
“Look at me!” Ellie screamed dive-bombing face first into the growing pile of leaves.
“Wait!” Aunt Abby said before everyone else also jumped in the pile. “We have to make it bigger before we can jump in it.” She fished Ellie, giggling delightedly, out of the leaves.
“But, why are we making it?” Constance repeated Jules’ question.
Aunt Abby squatted down in front of them, eye to eye with seven inquisitive faces. “Because Rook is coming.”
“Who’s Rook?” Joshua asked.
“Yeah,” Jude said crossing his arms and trying to look tough. Imogene threw a handful of leaves in his face spoiling the effect.
“Who IS ROOK?” Aunt Abby straightened up and put her hands on her hips. “Dear children, do you not know you’re own cousin?”
“OH! Is he Miss Fizzle’s baby?” Bruce said pushing more leaves in the pile.
“If by Miss Fizzle you mean Michelle, then yes.”
Constance took Aunt Abby’s hand. Wide-eyed she asked, “Did she have her baby?”
“Yes! And he’ll be here soon!”
“Is that the only thing we’re celebrating today,” Jules asked.
“Why no!” Aunt Abby said scooping her up in a big bear hug. “We’re also celebrating your birthday Julie-bear.” She set Jules down and gathered Joshua up. “And Joshua!”
“And my Daddy!” Imogene squealed as Jude dumped a huge armful of leaves on her head.
“And my Dad, too,” he declared.
“It’s all of our birthdays?” Jules gasped.
“What a busy month.”
“When will Rook get here?” Constance said.
“Soon, so let’s finish the pile.”
“He can play with my Cicero if he wants,” Joshua said. He held up his favorite puppy with sad blue eyes.
“Oh Joshua, that’s so sweet,” Aunt Abby kissed his freckled face. “I’m sure he’ll appreciate that, but you may need to wait until he’s a little older. Now, how about we finish this pile.”
The seven cousins raced against the wind gathering as many leaves as it would give up and made a Texas-sized pile of leaves in Grammie and Grandpa’s yard. Before too long, James and Michelle arrived carrying their new little bundle wrapped up tight against the chill. Michelle, positively glowing, brought him over to the children. She unwrapped him to let them take a look.
Constance and Ellie immediately started cooing and stroking his chin. The boys—Bruce, Joshua, and Jude—gave him a cursory look and turned back to the pile of leaves. Imogene kissed his head of dark hair. Jules studied the baby.
“How old is he?”
“He’s almost three weeks old.”
“But he’s almost as big as Imogene.”
Aunt Abby laughed. “Yep. Rook is huge!”
“He is.” Jules said. “Does that mean he’s gonna be bigger than all of us?”
“You’re Daddy was about this size when he was born,” Aunt Abby said, trying to help give her perspective.
“He’s gonna always be huge!” She said, her eyes wide.
“But so was your Uncle Price.”
Jules cocked her head. “Maybe he won’t be.”
Michelle laughed. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”
“Aunt Abby, is it time to jump in the leaves?” Bruce said.
“Rook can’t,” Constance said. “He’s a baby.”
“You’re right,” Michelle said. “But he can watch.”
“Ready?” Aunt Abby said.
“Ready!!” screamed seven crazy cousins.
They dove into the extra-big pile of leaves. Hats flew off. Rubber boots tangled. Giggles and screams of joy came from the intermixed faces peeking out of the leaves. Blonde and brunette hair went flying free of braids and clips and pony-tails. Pockets of rocks and sticks emptied to mix with the leaves. They tumbled free covered with the sheddings of trees. Rook jerked, awakened by the wild screaming. A slow smile spread over his face. He had heard these voices before.
“Again,” yelled Ellie.
Until Grammie called them in for dinner as the night came early over the family gathering, the seven cousins jumped in the leaves, rebuilt the pile, and jumped again. They covered each other, they battled with fists of leaves, and they hid deep inside in little caves. Aunt Abby watched over them tossing the little ones in, covering the bigger ones, and gathering more leaves.
Lights came on on the porch. Grammie called everyone in for dinner. They sang Happy Birthday, slightly off-key, to the new Rook, Brian, Brad, Joshua and Jules. Rook slept in his Mother’s arms surrounded by just a small number of the people who loved him already and sharing a birth-month with some of the most wonderful people in the world.
Welcome to the family Rook!