Gretel turned back to the last few feet of garden. The breeze grew steadily until she felt her shawl being whipped around in the wind. Looking over her shoulder she noticed that the sky had darkened suddenly. Where once crisp blue had filled the sky, now there were only grey thunderheads rolling over the tree tops. The weather seemed to be mirroring her own cloudy mood.
“What a surprise. I hadn’t thought we’d see any rain today. I’m done with this thorny devil so I’ll start dragging the dead brush around to the wood pile,” Hansel said as he hooked the loppers over her forearm and scooped up the first load of branches. “Be careful with these limbs. The barbs are treacherous. Why don’t you worry about the plants, just to be safe.”
Gretel filled her apron with dead plants and leaves just as the first big drops of rain began to fall. She trotted to the wood pile and dropped her load in the old wooden crate they kept there for kindling. She passed Hansel on her way back around the cottage as he carried another armful of boughs. The rain was coming faster now and he smiled at her as he ran by. By the time Gretel made her third pass with the overgrown branches, she was wet through. The clouds let loose a torrential down pour and as she and Hansel crossed paths again, she couldn’t help but join him as he laughed.
“Just a few more loads!” he yelled over the storm. His hair was plastered to his face and mud crept up his pant legs. Gretel wiped the rain out of her eyes with her forearm and grinned at her brother.
“You look a fright!”
“Look at your dress! Have you been rolling in the mud?” he teased.
Gretel scooped up the last of the dried grasses and plants and splashed across the front yard. Puddles were forming, huge drops of rain splashing in the muddy water. She ran to the cottage and stood on the front step, under the porch, watching Hansel make his last trek to the wood pile. He darted to the wood shed to secure the door and then ran across the waterlogged yard to the safety of the porch.