Raking leaves wasn’t as easy as Shannon had thought it would be. And it wasn’t as much fun as it looked. The rake was taller than she was and was hard to hold.
“Do you want me to help you?” her mother asked.
“No, thank you,” said Shannon. “I want to do it by myself to surprise Dad.”
The autumn air was crisp like the crunchy leaves crackling under her feet. But the sun shone brightly, and, feeling hot from the exercise, she took off her sweater.
“Would you like a glass of lemonade?” Mom asked.
This time Shannon said yes.
“Dad will be pleased with your surprise.”
“I know.” Shannon finished her drink and hurried back outside. She wanted to be done before Dad got home.
She raked and raked and raked. Finally there was only a giant pile of colored leaves in the middle of the yard. She could hardly wait to show her surprise to Dad.
Mom called to her from the kitchen window. “Guess whom I hear pulling up.”
Shannon ran around the house and down the sidewalk to greet her father. A sudden gust of wind almost swept her off her feet, but Dad caught her and gave her a bear squeeze. “I’d better hang on to you,” he said, laughing. “I don’t want my favorite daughter to blow away.”
“Come to the backyard, Dad,” she said, pulling him along. “I have a surprise for you.”
Just before they got there, Shannon said, “Now close your eyes and don’t open them until I say so.” She led him the rest of the way, going slowly so that he wouldn’t trip. “My pile of leaves!” she wailed. “It’s gone everywhere!”
Dad opened his eyes. “Don’t feel bad, honey,” he said after she’d choked out what had happened. “It was a wonderful surprise.”
“How could it be wonderful when it’s not even there anymore?”
“Well, a pile of leaves isn’t really the surprise—it’s knowing that a special little girl worked very hard to do something nice for her dad. The wind can’t blow that away, no matter how hard it tries.”
Shannon brightened up. “Really?”
“Really,” Dad said and kissed her forehead. “I bet the two of us could rake up these leaves again in no time if we did it together.”
Shannon smiled. “I’ll get the rake.”