Aunt Mabel’s Store

By Renie Szilak Burghardt

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    Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing (D&C 88:119).

    “Oh dear! It looks like I’ll have to go to the store,” Aunt Mabel suddenly announced as she closed the refrigerator door.

    “But it’s snowing, and the wind is howling,” Annie said. She’d just been looking out the window of Aunt Mabel’s cozy farmhouse.

    “But I must go—my refrigerator and cupboards are bare.” Aunt Mabel sounded determined.

    Annie was spending a few weeks on Aunt Mabel’s farm. The early snowstorm had been sudden and unexpected. The snow was being whipped around by a wind that sounded quite fierce! It was hard to see anything but snow out the window. Annie got a worried expression on her face.

    “We’ll just get all bundled up and make our way through the storm—like the pioneers did. On a farm, one has to keep the pioneer spirit alive,” Aunt Mabel continued as she helped Annie put on her jacket and boots.

    The pioneer spirit? Annie’s face took on a look of determination. If Aunt Mabel had the pioneer spirit, she would have it too. “Are we going in your pickup truck?” Annie asked as they headed out the door.

    “No, sweetie. We’ll walk.”

    Walk? Annie thought. Walking will require a lot of pioneer spirit. “I’m ready if you are, Aunt Mabel.”

    “You’re a brave girl. Just for that we’ll bring back an extra special dessert,” Aunt Mabel promised, opening the door.

    The snow swirled in the wind. Though it was freezing cold, Annie couldn’t help noticing how beautiful it looked.

    Aunt Mabel walked around the side of the house. Annie followed, fighting the strong wind that seemed determined to rip her scarf right off her neck!

    Aunt Mabel pulled open a large door in the ground.

    Annie stared. What was she doing?

    “Come on, sweetie. Follow me to my store. Watch these steps—they’re a bit steep,” Aunt Mabel cautioned. Annie held on to the railing as she followed. At the bottom of the stairs Aunt Mabel pulled a string. A light came on.

    “Wow!” Annie exclaimed. “A store right in your yard!” There were rows upon rows of shelves bulging with rows upon rows of jars! Jars filled with colorful fruits and vegetables—green beans, corn, peas, pickles, jams, peaches, pears, applesauce, and more.

    On the dirt floor were boxes filled with carrots, potatoes, onions, cabbages, and apples. Practically any kind of food one could find in a grocery store was right there in Aunt Mabel’s cellar!

    “All summer, while my garden is producing, I work hard stocking my store. Then when winter arrives, I can relax with a good book—or with my favorite niece—and enjoy it,” Aunt Mabel said.

    “Are those watermelons in the corner?” Annie asked in amazement.

    “They certainly are. Those are the last melons from my garden. I coated them with paraffin, which is like candle wax. That way, if I’m lucky, they’ll keep into early winter.”

    They filled two boxes with both canned and fresh fruits and vegetables and carried them up to the house. Annie’s box had potatoes, carrots, and apples in it. Aunt Mabel took jars of other fruits and vegetables. Then Aunt Mabel rushed out to the cellar again and came back up with a watermelon in her arms. “Our special dessert,” she said, smiling at Annie.

    Back in the cozy, warm kitchen, Aunt Mabel and Annie soon filled the refrigerator and cupboards.

    A pair of headlights shone through the kitchen window. Angie looked out. “Someone in a blue truck is here.”

    A man came to the door. “Come in, John,” Aunt Mabel told him.

    “I’m on my way to town. I just stopped to see if you might need something. You know that my truck has four-wheel drive. It’ll make it through anything.”

    “Thank you, John. I certainly do appreciate your stopping by, but we don’t need a thing. In fact, I just brought up a watermelon from my store. It’s too big for the two of us—this is my niece Annie, who’s visiting me from the city—so won’t you take some home with you?”

    “What a treat! Thank you.” He turned and smiled at Annie. “Hello there, young lady. It looks like you’re getting a taste of our country winter.”

    “Yes, but I’m not worried about it. We have Aunt Mabel’s store, right in the cellar. And we have the pioneer spirit. We can make it through anything.”

    Illustrated by Shauna Mooney Kawasaki