The Little Lathams were fascinated by the idea of being “poor”. Being too young to realize the heartbreak of true poverty, they based their ideas on the stories we read together. Many folk and fairy tales feature clever characters that must rely solely on wit and ingenuity to survive. These characters not only seemed to have a multitude of adventures, but many times they turned out to be the heroes of the stories.
So was the mind-set when the children set out to play a game they called “Poor People”. Barefoot and dressed in raggedy clothes, the only thing they took was a basket or bag for gathering. They left me with some advice, “Be careful what you leave outside…there might be poor people around who would take things from your yard.” “Yeah, like lemonade!”
Off they went to fend for themselves. It was a scraggly group sneaking around in the garden. They gathered green beans from the vine, onions and anything else that looked ripe enough to eat! (They consumed more vegetables as poor people than they did at the dinner table!). Sooner or later the poor people ended up at the huge patch of wild blackberries at the edge of the property. There, they feasted until their fingers were stained purple.
Next, they decided it was getting dark. The poor people would have to bed down for the night. They chose a spot under the trees and curled up, five in a row. They pretended to sleep through a long night (about 10 minutes).
At some point in the day, I rambled outside with a jug of lemonade and some cups. I settled at the picnic table for a while, and then suddenly realized that I had left something in the house. I ran back in completely forgetting about my lemonade! It didn’t take long before five dirty faces peered around the tree trunks along the edge of the woods. Two of the motley figures dashed into the yard. They made off with the goods and disappeared back into the trees with the others cheering them on.
Hansel and Gretel would be proud!