What’s in a Name?

wq-bird-feeder-in-snowThe pace of life is quickening in Carding. Daylight savings time has arrived (a fact that makes everyone grumpy and feeling a bit jet-lagged), there’s water streaming off the icicles fringing the roofs, folks are boiling maple sap, and there are new arrivals in the barn up on the Tennyson farm.

Welcome to spring in Carding, Vermont. Please share this and the other Carding Chronicles with your friends, colleagues, and general acquaintances!


It’s rare for the month of March to pass by Vermont without dropping snow. Usually a lot of it. And frequently.

As the month ages, however, even large amounts of the crystallized white stuff are regarded with disdain. After all, frost heave notices have been posted on the paved roads while folks who live on the back roads are complaining about the tire-sucking mud. And that means that all this white stuff is gonna melt very soon.

So why stress.

Up on the Tennyson farm, the first lamb made her appearance on a peaceful night that included a six-inch snowfall. As soon as the little one arrived, Lee and Christina’s sons didn’t have to be summoned to the breakfast table any more. They were up with the earliest rays of the sun, scuttling across the yard in their pajamas and boots to see the new arrival in the barn.

“Can I name him?” Little Freddie asked as he stuffed the last of his breakfast into his mouth.

“Who? The lamb?” his father asked.

“Yeah, the wamb.” Freddie’s little legs were already moving before his feet hit the floor. “I wanna name him.”

“Actually, I believe it’s a girl lamb,” his older brother, Scott, said. His mom tried not to smile at his use of the word actually. He was only six, and anything more than two syllables sounded so precocious coming from his mouth.

“I can… I can do a girl’s name, can’t I Mommy?”

“Of course you can. So what do you want to call her?”

Freddie stopped, his sturdy legs planted on the floor as his upper body swayed in surprise. He’d been concentrating so hard on claiming naming rights to the baaa-ing bundle of wool in the barn, he’d never thought about what he would call her.


“Do you need help?” Scott asked.

“No. Yeah.” The little guy shook his head vigorously. “No. I can do it.”

But it quickly became obvious that Freddie wasn’t going to come up with a name under the watchful eyes of his parents and brother. Privacy and thought were important for such a task.

After his brother left for school, Freddie assumed his daily task of shadowing his parents around the farm. One of his favorite chores was bringing fruit and vegetable scraps from supper out to the small flock of chicken who brooded in one corner of the barn. As he followed his mother across the yard, she heard him name each of the landscape items along the way, testing them and tasting them for their usefulness as names.

“Clothes line,” he whispered. “Shovel. Fence. Bird…birdie…birds…birdfeeder. Garbage can!” And then he giggled.

As soon as he emptied his pail for the chickens, Freddie raced over to the hay-filled corner where the sheep munched and baaa-ed in a desultory attempt at early morning gossip. When he reached the new mother, he carefully turned his pail over at a point close enough to watch but not too close to cause concern on the part of the ewe.

Lee and Christina still marveled at their youngest’s innate respect for the critters in their care. They’d never had to teach Freddie not to press in on new mothers at the farm. He’d just acted that way from the very beginning.

“Hay…bales…boots…mittens…,” he muttered, still not satisfied with his choices.

And so it continued all day, Freddie touching and naming everything in his orbit. But he still hadn’t found a name that he liked, and reported the problem to his brother as soon as Scott got off the bus at the end of their driveway.

“Well, you’ll figure it out,” the older boy said as they stamped snow off their boots in the mud room.

But Freddie was frustrated and he kicked at the door jamb in frustration, skidding in the melting snow left by a day’s worth of stomping. Then he stopped.

“Snow,” he said, naming the most ubiquitous—and easily missed—element in his environment. “Snow, snowing, snow plow, snow day…” He whipped around to face his brother, his little face now radiant with success. “Snowflake!” he yelled triumphantly. “Mom…hey Mom…I got a name!”


 Thank you for journeying with me to Carding, Vermont. If you subscribe to my website, you’ll find a short story in your inbox every Thursday morning.

If you enjoy the Carding Chronicles, please share them and encourage your friends to subscribe to this website. And please review the Carding novels wherever and whenever you get the chance to talk about books. Your opinion matters more than you can imagine. The more folks who share Carding, the more books I get to write, and the more you get to read.

The Carding novels are (in order of appearance):

The Road Unsalted

Thieves of Fire

The Dazzling Uncertainty of Life

Thank you!


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