Grammie straightened up from her garden, stretching her back.
“I’m getting too old for this and miss my helpers,” she said to the sky.
Grandpa hefted out a load of old cardboard boxes to use as mulch. “It’s a lot quieter without the kids, for sure, but maybe it’s time to work with the new generation.” Before Grammie could decide if that was a good idea or not, Grandpa whipped out his phone and summoned two of his grandsons: Bruce and Jude.
In a few minutes, their mommy dropped them off.
The clear spring sun shone down on the early rising flowers. The cold wind nodded their yellow and pink heads. Bruce and Jude looked at the fresh dirt, the compost, and the garden hoes, rakes, and shovels.
“What are we doing?” Bruce hurried up and pulled a shovel out of the pile.
Grammie rested her hands on her rake’s handle. “We’re going to lay all that cardboard out, soak it, and cover it with compost. Wanna help?”
“Sure!” Bruce said.
Jude took his thumb out of his mouth, smiled, and babbled excitedly.
Gardening is an adventure when you’re five and almost two!
Following Grandpa’s instructions, Bruce carted out a big cardboard box while Jude dragged one behind him. Grammie took it and placed it just right.
Back and forth, back and forth, Bruce and Jude tromped with the boxes.
“Enough!” Grammie shouted.
Grandpa uncoiled the house and sprayed.
Water, water, water everywhere! Bruce and Jude splashed. They skipped through the puddles. They hopped from one to one to one as the cardboard wilted. Grandpa held the hose up like a fountain. Squealing, Jude ran through the sprinkles.
“Compost!” Grammie grabbed up a shovel and handed it to Bruce. Grandpa got a rake for Jude.
Working up a sweat, Grammie, Grandpa, Bruce, and Jude scooped, scraped, hoed, harrowed, dug, and threw fresh new dirt still littered with egg shells, vegetable ends, and rotting leaves over the cardboard.
“Look!” Bruce pointed. A small tan gecko raced up out of Grammie’s compost pile. Bruce dropped his shovel and jumped after the swift lizard. Jude watched, wide-eyed, dirty finger in his mouth.
“I caught it!”
Bruce held out his hand to Grandpa. The gecko leapt off into the bushes.
“Oh…” On Bruce’s palm rested a small, wiggling brown tail.
Bruce flinched, dropping it.
Jude bent down. Bruce bent down. They studied the tail.
They both stepped back.
“Did it lose its tail?” Grandpa asked.
“Yes! Why did it lose its tail?”
Jude grunted and pointed. Gingerly, Bruce picked the tail back up.
“Lizards drop their tails so they can distract you and make their escapes,” Grammie explained.
“And it worked.” Grandpa smiled. “Now back to work.”
Many hours later, Grammie, Grandpa, Bruce, and Jude sat on the porch enjoying a cold cup of water while they waited for the boys’ mommy.
“Bruce?” Grandpa asked. “You didn’t put that lizard tail in your pocket did you?”
“No, I left it in the dirt. I’ll go get it. Then I can show Mommy.”
“How about you just tell her about it,” Grandpa suggested. “She’ll like to hear about it better.”
Bruce nodded. “I can tell her the story, for sure. Mommy doesn’t like bugs and lizards in the house.”
Jude smiled, reached in his pocket and said, “TAIL!” Out came the brown stump.
“Mommy won’t be happy with gardening day,” Bruce said.