AAAAAAND WE HAVE A WINNER!
Two winners actually, because we divided the entries between the adults and the youth. Honestly every single entry was.so.good! But since I wasn’t sure it was a great plan to post all of them-I’ll just share the Judge’s favorites tonight. Bless my cousin, Juanita. I printed them all off and numbered them so she didn’t know who’s was who’s and she helped me establish the winning pieces. It was a tough call (I’ll share my favorite excepts from each one tomorrow and you’ll see what I mean) but tonight for your reading pleasure I present (drumroll please) the rest of the story:
Youth winner: Amber Knicely
The days passed quickly. Mr.Story took good care of his carrot and watered it every day. Bobby on the other hand stopped by occasionally to throw a little water on his young carrot. Bobby made sure that everyone knew he was going to win.
Finally, July 22 arrived. It was a big day for everybody in Cottontail Cove. They all wanted to watch the carrot pulling event. Bobby had even went as far as to put a sign in front of his carrot that read “The winning one!”
At last Mr. Story walked out of his house where everyone waited breathlessly. “Wow,” he said. ”It’s a bigger crowd than I expected.” Bobby said, “Let’s just get this thing done. It’s obvious who is going to win.” “Very well then.” Mr. Story replied. He grabbed his small green top. Bobby did the same to his big leafy dark green top. “3…2…1… GO!!!”somebody in the crowd yelled. Both rabbits pulled as hard as they could. Bobby’s carrot cleanly popped out of the ground. But Mr. Story was having some trouble. “I just can’t seem to pull it out,” he groaned. ”Is Mr. Thumper in the crowd?” (You see Mr. Thumper was the neighborhood strongman.) “He’s right here!” someone shouted. Mr. Thumper stepped out of the crowd. He grabbed the small carrot top and gave a mighty heave. The dirt started moving. Then the largest carrot the town had ever seen came slowly out of the ground. “Wow! That’s a nice one,” Mr. Story said. Bobby’s mouth dropped open. He stammered, “H-h-how did you do it?” Mr. Story answered, “I took care of mine and did my best. You, on the other hand, were careless and too self-confident.” The whole town burst into applause.
The next day everyone in Cottontail Cove gathered at their village meeting place. They all sat down at a long table. The old rabbits sat at one end of the table and the younger rabbits at the other end. Mr. Thumper and Mr. Story cut the carrot up. They gave the little green tops to the older rabbits who couldn’t chew properly anymore. The bright orange carrot part went to the younger rabbits. Everybody said it was the best carrot they had ever eaten.
Adult winner: Abigail Risser
With that, Bobby turned and started home. As he had finished hoeing the weeds on the last row of his garden, Mr. Story too put away his hoe and went into the house. He would eat some lunch before going back out to plant carrots.
Bobby figured that he would go buy some carrot seed and come back later in the evening to plant. He headed up the dirt road to Mr. Ellison’s farm supply store.
Approaching, he saw the familiar sights of wheelbarrows and rakes and hoes on display; and mounds of cabbages, lettuces, and other produce in wooden carts. As he entered, he said “Howdy,” to the owner, Mr. Ellison, and walked to the wire racks filled with seeds. Since he had never gardened before and didn’t know the first thing about buying seeds, he picked up the first little package that said “carrot seed,” and walked to the counter.
He waited as Mr. Ellison tallied up a rake, watering can, and green bean seed for the customer before him and waved him out the door. Then he stepped forward as Mr. Ellison said, “So you’re planting garden this year, Bobby? Didn’t know your folks had ground for that.”
“Oh, I’m not planting a garden,” replied Bobby. “Just buying this carrot seed. Old Mr. Story over yonder got me into this contest. He’s giving me a little spot in his garden and we’re each planting a carrot and taking care of it however we want. After two and a half months then we’ll pull them up and see whose is biggest and best. It’ll be mine, of course.”
Mr. Ellison let out a low whistle. “And so how do you plan to take care of those carrots?”
“Oh I say just pull a few weeds, throw around some water, and let Mother Nature do her thing! You wouldn’t believe how much time that old codger spends in his garden doing who-knows-what!”
Mr. Ellison looked wise and thoughtful, and Bobby felt a little uncomfortable. “Well, I can’t wait to see what comes of this contest,” remarked Mr. Ellison cheerfully as Bobby took his seeds and headed for the door. He smiled to himself as if he were thoroughly amused and Bobby called back, “oh don’t worry, I’ll be the winner,” as he swaggered out the door.
So it was that Mr. Ellison told Miss Daphne at the post office, and Miss Daphne told the mail carrier, and soon the whole town knew about the contest between Mr. Story and Mr. Carrington.
That evening, Bobby walked over to Mr. Story’s garden to plant his seed. He decided he had better plant more than just one seed in case it didn’t come up, so he made a row and opened up his seed package. The seeds where tiny and since he didn’t know exactly how to plant carrots, anyway, he just sprinkled all the seeds in the package generously all over the row, shoved some dirt over, and stuffed the package in his pocket.
Just then Wilbert came out of his house with a hoe and watering can. “Hey there, Bobby,” he called.
Bobby grinned as Mr. Story approached. “Got em all planted,” he announced. “I’ll be back in a week or so to see how they’re doing. You’ll get to see first-hand how real gardening works,” he bragged.
“I really can’t wait, either, Bobby,” said Wilbert, smiling just like Mr. Ellison had in the store. “Well, I had better fertilize my cabbages and weed my lettuces, so I hope you enjoy the rest of your evening.”
Bobby laughed and walked up the road to his house, confident in his believed victory of the contest. He was sure he would grow the biggest, longest, crunchiest carrots that ever existed.
Wilbert, too, planted his carrots that evening, carefully making a straight row and sprinkling the seeds evenly. Then he watered them well and tamped down the soil.
During the next week Bobby stayed busy. He had a baseball game one evening and homework the other evenings. A few other days were rainy so he couldn’t do much then. But he found that he was terribly curious to know how his carrot seeds were making out. Often he found himself wishing he could go check up on the progress but he figured he would look ridiculous to be over at Mr. Story’s garden so often when that was the very thing he had told Mr. Story was so unnecessary. He hadn’t realized when you put a lot of time and energy into a project or anything else, you will naturally be interested in its wellbeing.
Wilbert stayed busy that week too. He hoed and raked and watered every day and his garden looked magnificent; all except for Bobby’s corner, which wasn’t being kept up, of course.
To avoid all suspicion, Bobby tried to act nonchalant about his contest in general and his carrots in particular. When his friend Will Roberts asked how his carrots were coming along, he replied carelessly, “Oh, I don’t know. I’m sure they’re fine,” to reassure himself.
But one afternoon at 4:30 he hurried over to Mr. Story’s garden to check on his carrots. He walked to his part of the garden and looked at his row. He was surprised at how quicklythe rain that week had made the weeds grow on his part of the garden. He had to look pretty hard, but in between the weeds, he could see tiny green carrot plants beginning to grow.
“Well,” thought Bobby, “I’m going to have to pull these little weeds or they’ll choke my carrots.” So he set to work, intending to get only the biggest weeds and skip the rest.
Looking up from his work sometime later, he saw Mr. Story walking to the garden carrying a hoe. “Hello there, Bobby,” he called. “its 5:30 now and I just finished my dinner. Thought I’d come out here and spend the evening in the garden.”
“5:30!” yelped Bobby. “I haven’t spent that much time out here!”
“Oh that’s alright,” said Mr. Story, smiling again in that way that made Bobby squirm. “That rain sure made the weeds grow, didn’t it?”
Bobby mumbled something under his breath and stood up, brushing the dirt from his knees. “Well, at any rate, these dumb weeds sure take forever to pull. I guess I’m going to head home now,” and he turned and sauntered off down the road.
Bobby felt embarrassed and upset that he had spent that much time when he’d expected it to take only five minutes. “Maybe there are some things about gardening I actually don’t know,” he thought to himself. “But at any rate, I’m not letting old Mr. Story win this thing!”
As for Mr. Story, he had been enjoyed himself thoroughly that evening as he ate his dinner and watched Bobby out pulling weeds. “I think that old chap is coming to some realizations,” he thought, as he thinned his carrots. “This is really good for him.”
Slowly the summer days passed. The carrots grew, and the weather turned warmer. Just looking at the feathery green tops, Wilbert couldn’t say that his carrots were bigger and Bobby couldn’t honestly say that his carrots were bigger. The garden was at its best and both rows of carrots were of equal lush proportions.
Bobby, of course would not condescend to work in his garden plot more than once a week, if that, and with it being so boiling hot (according to him), who would be so crazy as to work in a garden as often as Wilbert?
It was toward the end of July, one week before carrot-pulling day, that the sky clouded over and it began to rain. Angry winds whipped around the Carrington’s house and around Wilbert’s garden and through Mr. Ellison’s produce. Bobby peered anxiously through the streaming windows of his house and hoped his carrots were making it.
“This rain had better let up soon,” he thought, biting his claws uneasily. “This is the second day it’s been raining like this.”
Wilbert too, was a bit concerned about a flooded garden, but summer storms weren’t uncommon. “Although this is getting to be quite drawn-out,” he thought.
The storm raged for three days, leaving five and a quarter inches of rain and a distraught Bobby who had almost gnawed his claws to nothing. By then there were four days left until the Great Day of Revelation so Wilbert waited for the garden to dry up a little and then he was back at it with his rake and hoe.
The rain had created little rivulets and tunnels around his carrots and washed away some of the soil, but Mr. Story packed some more soil around the plants and hoed around them.
When Bobby came that evening, he stood and stared for a full five minutes. The weeds had grown beyond belief; he could hardly see his carrot plants among all those tall weeds. And one or two of the plants had their tops ripped off. Just likes Mr. Story’s, there were little rivulets and tunnels around his carrots and soil that had washed away.
Bobby set to work pulling the biggest weeds and pushing dirt around the carrots. That was Tuesday.
On Wednesday the sun shone away all the clouds and Bobby planned to go over again after school, because he hadn’t finished up his work the night before. His friends would understand that he had to be there oftener because the Big Day was coming up.
On Thursday Bobby began to feel some misgivings as well as butterflies about this whole contest situation and hoped that whatever happened, at least he would get carrots out of the deal.
On Friday, Bobby woke up early and got around for school. He and Mr. Story had decided to meet at Mr. Story’s garden at 4:15. The contest would commence shortly thereafter.
That wasn’t the best day of school that Bobby ever had, “but,”he bragged to his friends, my carrots will be the longest and orange-est, you’ll see;” and made other such remarks about how little time he had had to spend to create such carrots, etc.
All his friends were coming over to watch the fun, so after school a whole group of rabbits headed down the dirt road to Mr. Story’s beautiful garden.
Wilbert was already in it, with his trusty rake and hoe. Bobby wondered sarcastically if Mr. Story ever took them shopping, by accident. But it was 4:15 and Mr. Story straightened up and waved to the group approaching. “Hello there, everyone! Come to watch this little contest we have going here, huh?” he said to Bobby’s friends. The friends grinned and nodded and said they sure weren’t going to miss this for anything, even a baseball game.
“Well then, Bobby,” said Mr. Story, “I guess we’d better get started. I thought that what we’ll do is each of us will find our biggest carrot plant, pull it up, and hold it out for everyone to see. It’s handy that your friends came along; we’ll appoint one of them to be judge. Then we’ll pull the rest of our carrots up and lay them out to be judged as well. Sound good to you?”
“Fine with me,” replied Bobby.
“Alright then, who should be the judge?”
“I think my friend Will Roberts here will do fine. Will, come on over here so you can see my big carrots,” said Bobby.
Will stepped on over and Bobby and Wilbert searched for their biggest carrots. “I got mine!” exclaimed Bobby.
“And I found mine,” said Mr. Story.
Both of them dug the dirt out a little way around their carrot and then pulled. “Here it is!” yelled Bobby excitedly as he and Mr. Story held their carrot high for everyone to see.
Everyone looked, then stared. Bobby too stared with astonishment at his carrot. For instead of being long and orange, it was little and round, hardly two inches long, the size of a radish. No one said anything for a minute, and then suddenly Bobby’s friends were rolling with laughter. They hooted and hollered and rolled on the ground laughing. Bobby just kept on staring at his dream carrot that looked like a little Saturn. “What on earth?!” he finally managed at last.
Mr. Story came over for a better look. “That’s not quite what you were expecting, was it?” he asked, smiling amusedly but notunkindly. “They look to me like Parisian Ball carrots. That kind only grows to about the size of radishes. They still taste like carrots though,” he added reassuringly.
Bobby looked at Mr. Story’s own carrot. It was the picturesque vegetable: long, straight, and orange.
“Should we pull up the rest now?” asked Mr. Story. Bobby shrugged and nodded. Will Roberts walked over, still wiping his eyes and trying to talk five words at a time without going into another fit of laughter.
“My oh my, my friend,” he wheezed. “That was the best contest and the best practical joke I saw in my life! I’m afraid Mr. Story got you on that one!”
“You don’t have to tell me,” muttered Bobby crossly.
“Oh, c’mon, Bob. You have to admit this is hilarious. Be a good sport!” and Will doubled over with laughter again at the sight of Bobby’s tiny round carrot. Bobby managed a wry smile and walked over to pull up the rest of his row.
Because he hadn’t thinned them like he should have, the small, Parisian Ball carrots were even smaller in some places. When he had them all laid out beside the row, Bobby walked over to look at Mr. Story’s. “I’m sure yours are perfect,” he said bitterly, looking at the row of carrots.
“Actually, a few of mine are wormy,” said Mr. Story as he finished pulling the last few carrots. “Some years the crop will turn out beautifully, but I expect with all the rain we got recently that that’s the reason some of mine are wormy. In gardening, you win some and you lose some. Still happy for what I got though,” he finished cheerfully.
Bobby was doing some serious thinking about his know-it-all attitude and the lesson he could learn from growing these carrots, and how it could affect other things as well. “Well, I sure learned my lesson today,” he thought looking at his little orange carrots.
The other rabbits recovered sufficiently to come over and inspect Bobby’s and Mr. Story’s carrots. “Attention all,” shouted Will Roberts. “As Judge, I will now announce the winner. This has been a very close competition between small, healthy carrots grown with the least amount of care, and large, more practical carrots-though with a few worms- with the most amount of care. I hereby give Mr. Carrington second place and Mr. Story first place in this carrot-growing contest.”
The friends cheered, and Mr. Story and Mr. Carrington shook hands like old friends amid the laughter and applause.
I love this story…so beautifully ending with all learning and desiring to be their best! It was a tear jerker for me!