For Children

Francesca Burnett

Cottage by the River

5th & 6th Grade Prose Winner

I love waking up to the smell of fresh beach biscuits on a sunny, summer morning. The birds sing, and the sun starts to rise and warm the day. As I sit on the porch, I listen to the river’s soft ripples and the sound of a hummingbird as it zips across the yard. I watch a small bunny slip through the tall grass. It stops, ears twitching. Its head perks up. It looks around. Then, it hops away. The feeling of peacefulness settles in me.

My grandparent’s cottage is in Fishs Eddy, a small town near the Delaware River. The cottage is a small, two bedroom house, surrounded by trees on one side, and a river on the other. It has a porch out back that faces towards the water, offering a beautiful view when we eat outside. Sometimes, we sit on the rocking chairs out on the porch and feed the little chipmunk that lives under the porch. We named him Bondie, after James
Bond. Next to the porch are bird feeders. During the day, all kinds of birds come and go, feeding off of the seeds. In the backyard, there is a tree. A very, very large tree. If I had to guess, I would say it is around 100 feet tall. It has been around forever. Hanging from the tree, there is a wood swing that my dad and grandpa built when I was very young. Behind that is a short trail through tall grass and flowers that leads down to the water’s
edge.

Inside the cottage, it always smells like nature. Like wood, and trees, and grass. A lot of the time it smells like my grandma’s beach biscuits, or cookies, or pound cake, or pizza. I love to help my grandma bake. She teaches me amazing recipes that go back a long time in our family. Sometimes we use my great grandma’s cookbook.

I remember a distinct summer day at the cottage. I was around six years old and my sister was about four. Our friend Betsy had come with us. The sun was setting, making the sky a bronze pink, orange, and purple. The air was cool and there was a soft breeze. My sister, Betsy, and I were outside, playing on the swing.

“Hold on tight!” I said, pulling my sister back. She gripped the ropes and closed her eyes. I let go. She sailed through the air. I pushed her again. She laughed.

“Girls! Dinner!” My dad called from the porch. Betsy’s mom was setting placemats on the wooden table. The three of us ran up to the porch excited to eat after a long day of playing in the river.

It was a beautiful evening. We ate pizza and talked. Then, halfway through dinner, a huge, male deer came out of the brush. My dad pointed it out. Everyone got quiet. We all admired the deer as it roamed in the yard, sniffing the ground curiously.

“CHARGE!!” my sister’s voice cut into the silence. She got up and started running full speed at the deer, who looked terrified. The deer was about six or seven times bigger than my sister, but she had no fear. She kept running. The deer jumped a little, startled, then sped off, disappearing into the trees. Back at the table, my grandpa was howling with laughter. Everyone was stunned. That little four year old had just charged at a giant,
male deer. My sister came skipping back to the table, looking very pleased with herself.

Six years later, we still tell the story of how my sister charged a giant male deer in the yard of our grandparents’ cottage on a beautiful summer evening.