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Friday, 30 September 2011

CHAPTER 1 - The Mayor of Cabbage Hammock

By Noony Brown
Illustrated by Tanya Sistare

Chapter One
Cabbage Hammock

The Mayor of Cabbage Hammock lived far, far away from the busy world just outside the quiet, one-traffic-light village of Citra, on his plantation in North Florida.  Not much happened in Citra, but there was always something happening at Cabbage Hammock and the Mayor loved to see it all.  After all, that’s what Mayors do!
The Mayor was Old.  He was old with a capital “O,” wavy white hair, a crinkled sun-spotted face and sparkling blue eyes.  What I loved the most about the Mayor was that he laughed all the time.  I always thought he looked like a cheeky little leprechaun.
“Well, I declare!” said the Mayor, “It’s a beautiful day in God’s world today!” he chuckled as he stepped outside onto the big porch behind his house.
And it was.  It was always a beautiful day at Cabbage Hammock no matter the weather.  The Mayor believed every single day was a perfect day, whether it was cold, hot, raining, sunny, or anything in between.
As he put on his shoes, he sang in a clear, loud voice.

All things bright and beautiful!
All creatures, great and small,
All things, wide and wonderful!
The Lord God made them all!                 

 “Well, look at you two!” he said watching the humming birds flitting around him, “Are you thirsty this morning?” He got up quickly to check their water bottle. “Oh my goodness!  They’re bone dry.  You just wait right there.  I’ll be back with some sugar water for you my darlings.  I wonder why Frank hasn’t filled them today?”
And, scratching his head, somewhat confused the Mayor walked inside for the sugar water.
The first time I heard about Cabbage Hammock, I pictured a hammock tied between two trees, filled with round green cabbages!  But it’s nothing like that, a hammock I learned, is a place just above marshy land, which is exactly the way his land was. 
Cabbage Hammock was the Mayor’s plantation in Florida, and it sat in the middle of a great big forest of ancient twisted oaks that were draped in hanging Spanish moss; there were also hairy pine trees, huge tall palm trees, and dozens of other kinds of trees. 
But most of all there were cabbage palms everywhere.  They grew in great big clusters and clumps around the house, around the trees, near the trees, below the trees, in the field, by the house, the gate and the ponds.  They grew everywhere.  There were fields and fields of the low squatty ones, and then clumps of the great big tall ones.  I suppose that’s why he called it Cabbage Hammock!
Sometimes these cabbage palms grew in the middle of the path to his garage, or they pushed up under the gate to his front door!  These were places the Mayor didn’t particularly want them to grow, but he always ended up laughing about it.
After filling the little flowered bottles, the Mayor returned and hung them up.  As he watched, a wide smile crossed his crinkly face and he stretched out his arms to the sky,
This has to be the best day yet!” he clapped his hands and laughed, “Thank you, thank you!  Now let’s get out and see what's happening out there in God’s world today,” and he set off at a brisk walk round the side of the house to the garage where he kept his little red electric car.

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Unless otherwise noted, all articles are written by Cath Rathbone. (Copyright Catherine (Cath) Rathbone and Noony Brown)