Some time thereafter the Berkeleys were getting ready for a party. They were going to host the Continuum’s other Asian Twinns, including the Pearls, the Tamsens and Jin Ran, a Micale. The guest of honor was Nuria Spring, who was visiting from Latrobe, PA because she needed a body transplant.
The Berks were all in their best spring dresses, bustling around, getting ready. Rory was cooking up her famous tea, made with fresh mint and dried herbs from the garden plus other secret ingredients, on her new stove. Hanako had set out the cookies and now was getting out the Hershey kisses as Teri got the silverware together in preparation for setting the table. Quinn was showing Nuria how to make an origami crane. The cranes would be the table decorations. Nuria, as the guest of honor, was wearing a special tiara with her dress.
Alice had been sent out to get flowers for the table and was arranging them. Teri looked down the table and laughed. “Alice, did you get dandelions and violets from the lawn?”
“Yes,” said Alice. “I thought about getting cherry blossoms but then I realized if I pick them now, we won’t have cherries for Rory to make her famous cherry tarts later on.”
“Why are the things I make always famous?” Rory asked herself. “Alice, the gardens are full of tulips and daffodils and things.”
“Yes, I know, but I was afraid Annette would yell at me if I picked any of them. You know how possessive she is about her flowers.”
“Who, me, possessive?!” asked Annette with a grin, as she came around the back of the playhouse from where she had been watering the Solomon’s Seal.
“Oh, hi Annette,” said Alice, trying to act nonchalant. “Well, I know you don’t like us to pick your flowers.”
“Not without asking me first,” Annette admitted, “But since you are having a party you certainly may pick some for your decorations.”
“That’s great, thanks!” said Alice. “Annette, what are these purple flowers? We’ve all been wondering.”
“They are called lunaria,” said Annette. “Some people call them thrift, or honesty, or silver dollars.” Annette looked around in the flower bed and found some of last year’s lunaria seed pods. “See, Alice, the seed pods look like silver dollars. People use them in dried flower arrangements.”
“How about that,” said Alice. “I wish they were real silver dollars, don’t you?”
“I do. If I had one I would buy one of Hana’s cookies,” Annette joked.
“Oh, take one,” said Hanako. “We have plenty, and you always work so hard.”
“And I’d better get back to it,” agreed Annette. “Thanks. Have fun at your party, girls.” Munching on the cookie, she headed on to weed the blueberry bushes.
“Maybe sometime we should invite the Cookies to a party,” Quinn commented. “What would you get, Nuria, if we had a whole garden full of real silver dollars?”
“I don’t know,” said Nuria, shyly. “Maybe Denver eyes.”
“Yeah.” The girls were silent for a minute, thinking of their friends who had China eyes. “I’d get saucepans,” Rory announced. “I am tired of having to cook the water for my famous tea in this old bucket from Croc Camp!”
“And I would get my own scrubs and a stethoscope,” said Teri, who had recently gone into a medical apprenticeship. The other Berks made a mental note of this because they knew Teri’s birthday was coming up.
“I would get a wig for Tamayo,” Hanako spoke up. “She let me have hers when my old one was all tangled after my eye surgery.”
“That was nice of h….”
Suddenly there was an iridescent flash of light and a Twinn descended out of nowhere, knocking over the teacups and spilling Alice’s flowers (fortunately Alice had forgotten to put water in the pitcher so it wasn’t as messy as it could have been).
“Oh my stars. Hello. That darn Yrene – this is the last time I let her send me anywhere,” said the Twinn, who proved to be an Emma, as Teri helped her up. “Thank you so much. I’m sorry for dropping in like this. I am looking for the Noble Order of Emmas at the Twinn Continuum, but I see that you are Berkeleys.”
“Yes, we are the Berks of Berks,” explained Rory. “This is Hanako, Quinn, Alice, Teri, Nuria, and I am Rory.”
“I have heard of the Berks of Berks, they are very famous amongst the Berks of Yrbittia.” said the Emma. “So I am at the Continuum?”
“Yes. But Nuria is a Berk of Westmoreland,” Quinn interrupted. “She is just visiting us. Who are you?”
“I am Yrlene from the planet Yrbittia. I have come to join the Royal Society of Emmas – that is, if they will have me. Are those chocolates?” Yrlene asked, suddenly distracted by the sight of the Hershey kisses.
“Yes, please help yourself,” said Hanako politely.
“Oh, thank you.” Yrlene took four and put them in her valise. “Back in Yrbittia chocolate is very expensive. We only get one piece once a year on our birthdays if we are lucky. We have to import it from other planets.” She sighed. “I can’t believe you have all of these kisses here.”
“Well, we are having a party later on,” explained Rory, “but take heart, Yrlene, the Emmas love chocolate and have it at every meeting although you do have to compete with Sally for the last one!”
“I knew I wanted to come here,” said Yrlene. “How can I find them?”
“They are usually in the garden this time of day. Just go over to the side yard and take a left…”
The rumbling of wheels interrupted Rory’s directions. “Hey, Berks of Berks,” called Randy, coming up with his wagon and two kittens, Coal-face and Ginger. “Got any cookies to spare for a hungry Cookie?”
“Randy, all of you Cookies must have a sixth sense when it comes to tracking down cookies,” laughed Hanako. “Here they are; help yourself. What are you up to this morning?”
“Thanks a lot, Hana. I just made a visit to the Mountain o’ Mulch for the Emmas. They are redoing the vegetable garden today and ordered a dozen bags. I’m on my way to deliver bag #12 to them.”
“Oh, good. This is Yrlene from the planet Yrbittia. Yrlene, this is Randy. Randy, would you take her to the garden? She’s looking for the other Emmas.”
“Sure,” said Randy. “Hop in.” Then he realized his wagon was rather dirty from hauling all those bags of mulch. “Wait.” He pulled a clean handkerchief from his pocket and gallantly spread it in the front of his wagon for Yrlene to sit on.
“Thank you, Randy,” said Yrlene. “Are these your cats?” she asked as the two kittens climbed in with her.
“They’re everybody’s. Whoever needs a cat at the moment,” Randy explained. “The orange one is Ginger and the black one is Coal-Face. I hope you like cats.”
“Yes, I am very fond of them.” said Yrlene. “Crocs, too. I am hoping to go to Croc Camp this year.”
“Then you’ve come to the right place,” said Randy.
the Emmas were busy with their spring chores. Kerry was looking through the seeds to find the ones they wanted to plant, with the help of Carlisle, who was keeping an eye on the radish seeds, just in case.
Penny was drawing a diagram of the garden as the girls decided where they wanted to put everything, with the help of Corky, who was also raking up some of last year’s leaves and sticks. Carin was digging out a particularly stubborn dandelion, while Sally and Clinton were taking care of the weeds that could be pulled by hand, or, in Clinton’s case, by mouth. “My fellow Americans,” observed Clinton, “Why do weeds have to taste so awful?”
Taryn and Cavendish were mulching the strawberries which the girls had planted a week before. Cavendish had been away at a reunion of his old army unit (the 7th Underwater Crocodlie Artillery) when the bed was planted so he hadn’t been involved until now. “These are Cavendish strawberries,” Taryn told him.
“What do you mean, Miss Taryn?” asked Cavendish.
“That is the name of the type of strawberries they are. The ones on the other side are Earliglows.”
“Hmmph,” said Cavendish, “They’re spindly little blighters, aren’t they?” But secretly he was pleased to know there was a kind of strawberry named after his family.
“Cavendish, they’re just babies. They’ll get bigger. You were probably pretty spindly yourself when you were a baby.”
“Yes, my mother used to carry me around in her mouth,” said Cavendish. “What about those big fellows over there? Are they Cavendish strawberries, too?”
“No, they’re a different kind,” said Taryn.
“I hope they’re not Clintons,” said Cavendish in a whisper.
Taryn laughed. “No, they are called Honoyoe, though I’m not quite sure how to say it. But they are older than the Cavendishes.”
“Cavendish, we’ll let you eat the first one of the Cavendish strawberries when they are ripe,” called Kerry.
“Thank you, Miss Kerry” replied Cavendish, as Taryn went to get more mulch from the bag. “Come on, chaps,” said Cavendish to his strawberries, “Let’s make a jolly good show for the Queen and country!”
Not too far off Caryn was half heartedly poking around in the soil, she kept on thinking about Sally wanting to leave and how to find a suitable replacement for her. The rattling of wheels jerked her out of her thoughts as she saw Randy arriving with his wagon
Randy waved at Caryn and helped Yrlene out of the wagon. All the Emmas crowded around her. Randy dropped off the bag of mulch and then headed back across the yard again to get his chain saw, as he had seen some dead branches on the cherry tree that needed pruning.
“Hello,” said Yrlene. “I am Yrlene of Yrbittia and I have come to join the Noble Order of Emmas!”
“She looks like the Emma of Yesterday,” whispered Corky to Penny.
The girls all introduced themselves and also introduced Yrlene to Carlisle.
“What nice names you have,” said Yrlene. “I am hoping to get an up-to-date name, too. Everyone on Yrbittia has a name which begins with a Y and it’s so boring. I was hoping for something like Mildred or Naomi or Mamie or Phoebe or Effie or something like that.” She took a list out of her valise. “Here they are, the top baby names of 1907.”
“But it is not 1907, it is 2007,” Carin pointed out.
“Oh no,” said Yrlene. “Isn’t Teddy Roosevelt president any more?”
“No, sorry, he died a long time ago,” said Corky. “I think your planet must be slow in getting the information from ours. I guess that is why you are dressed the way you are.”
“Yes, we are very far away and probably behind the times. I dressed this way because I thought that was what everybody wore. Our transmogrifyers are always breaking down, too. Darn. Now what shall I do for an up to date name?”
“We have books, don’t worry, Yrlene,” said Taryn. “We will introduce you to Harmony. She has them in her office. But right now why don’t we get you some up to date clothes so you can help us in the garden?”
“Sure,” said Yrlene, and she and Taryn headed off to the house.
“Theodore Roosevelt,” said Clinton with a sneer. “He was a Republican.”
“Now, Clinton, we can’t all be Democrats like you,” said Sally. “C’mon, I think I see some Republican weeds over there. Let’s go pull them up!”