As told by Maureen
Burdie James is a pea‑picking, pea‑shooting, card‑carrying, game‑playing competitor. He likes contests, any kind of contest, and he is always looking for a challenge. I used to think that Burdie James was a goof‑off, the way he was always laughing and playing games. But as I watched him more closely I saw that he just has a knack for making the simple things of life more fun.
I once saw him make a contest out of watering the herb garden around Twylah Jean's house. He filled two buckets with water, way up to the top. Then he dropped a pansy petal in each. The object was to carry the buckets from the fish pond to the apple tree as fast as he could without losing the petals. The garden got watered in record time that day. And he was obviously having fun.
Another time I saw him helping Alfie Leander gather seeds for "weeding" the roadside. They were sorting through the dried up pea vines in the compost pile looking for peapods. Each time they found one, they would split open the pod, then lay the peas out in a row. They took turns shooting the peas into Alfie's patchwork bag. The loser each time had to open the next peapod, which, with their small fingers, was really quite hard work. They kept at it for a couple of hours and had a very full bag when they were done. They left with big smiles on their faces.
Oftentimes on those long June evenings when day stretches until 9:00 or so at night, I will hear the Pips out in the woods laughing and chattering. When I look out my kitchen window, where I am usually washing dishes at that time of night, I see that they are playing games. And, sure enough, there is Burdie James in the middle of it all. As I watch them I decide to make a game out of washing these dishes. I'm alway surprised at how much faster it goes when I just take the time to remember that work can be play.
1995, 2006 by Maureen Carlson