At Midnight with Papa


All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small, All things wise and wonderful, The Lord God made them all (Children’s Songbook, page 231).

At Midnight with Papa

When Papa went fishing, he took Caroline’s brothers, Ned and Albert. Caroline stayed home and helped Mama bake bread.

When Papa went woodcutting in the hills, he took Albert and Ned. Caroline stayed home and helped Mama braid rugs.

When Papa went in the wagon to the feed store, he took Albert and Ned. Caroline stayed home and helped Mama can tomatoes.

“I wish Papa would take me sometime,” Caroline said.

Mama smiled and patted her on the head.

Then one chilly night, Caroline was nestled deep in her feather bed when something woke her. Papa was kneeling beside her bed. “Come, little one,” he whispered. “Wake up.”

He wrapped a quilt around Caroline and carried her outside. As he softly closed the door behind them, the big grandfather clock in the hall began to chime midnight.

The cold nipped at Caroline’s nose and ears.

Papa carried her out of the yard, around the barn to the old meadow pond. “Be very still,” he whispered, “and look.”

On the pond were hundreds of geese.

“Wild geese,” Papa said very quietly. “They stopped to rest at our pond on their way south to their winter home.”

Wide-eyed, Caroline watched, snuggling against Papa’s big, warm chest.

Then, after several moments, with a flutter of wings and a honking so loud that Caroline had to cover her ears, the geese rose into the air.

Outlined against the full moon, the V-shaped flock slowly disappeared from sight.

As Papa tucked Caroline back into bed, he said, “In the morning be sure to tell your brothers what we saw”—he smiled in the almost-dark—“while they were sound asleep.”

Caroline smiled back. “I will, Papa.”

She would tell them. She would tell them about the most wonderful moment of her life that happened at midnight with Papa.

[illustration] Illustrated by Dick Brown