“Oh, Mother!” Ivy called with glee as her mother came into sight carrying a pot full of fresh raspberries.
“Dessert tonight,” Mother smiled. “Think I’ll make some buckwheat raspberry pie.”
“My favorite!” Ivy squealed happily.
She opened the trapdoor to their home, which was in a hill. The door itself was very hidden, leaves stuck all over it as a disguise. Someone could walk right on it and not even know it was there. Ivy and her twin brother, Finch, used to do it all the time when they were younger. Now, they were well used to it, and had basically memorized the entire forest around them, so they could locate their hidden house even with their eyes closed.
She barrelled through the long, winding dirt tunnel, which was not lit, but like the forest and the hill, Ivy could navigate it even without light. Lots of bumping into walls and stumbling around in the dark had taught her to learn where to turn.
“Finch!” she called. “Guess what! Mother brought berries for pie tonight!”
She entered their actual home, where Finch was seated on their deerskin carpet in the corner, rubbing his hands in front of the warm fire, his eyes wide. “Yesss,” he said with relish. “What’s the occasion?” he joked.
They both knew it was Dek-bear 10th, their thirteenth birthday, and that certainly called for a celebration. Teenagins, Ivy thought proudly. She couldn’t wait to taste tonight’s special dessert, which their mother reserved for making only on birthdays.
Inside their home, which was only about ten feet around, there was one big bed on one side, which they all slept in. There was the carpet in the other corner, the fire in the center of the wall on the other side–their mother had carefully constructed a web of stoned-in walls to lead the smoke out of various spots in between the moss on the hill above so that it would look simply like moss.
Ivy didn’t really know why their home had to be so hidden, but she could tell it was important, because Mother always got tense and changed the subject whenever she or Finch had ever brought it up. Now they simply avoided the subject altogether. Ivy decided it wasn’t important enough for her to worry about, since their mother never warned them about anything out there that they needed to really worry about. There were, surely, bears, but Ivy had never seen them herself, and a bear wouldn’t be able to fit in their door-tunnel anyway.
There was also a stone that was hollow in the middle and flat on the top. Mother kept all the sharp, shaped stones she’d carved out to use for cutting up meat and other food during her cooking. Next to it there was another very flat rock, leaned up against one of the dirt walls, which Mother used to cook things on over the fire.
“Ivy,” called her mother, now entering the house herself, “Why don’t you make me some dough? I’d like to have some bread for supper, too.”
“All right,” said Ivy. They all helped with the meals, whether it was finding the food, setting up, baking, preparing, or cleaning afterward.
She grabbed the homemade clay jar and dumped buckwheat flour over the stone counter. Then she pulled out the smaller jar of yeast that Mother had brought in one day from the forest (no one really knew where she’d gotten it, and she certainly wasn’t telling). She sprinkled the yeast into the mixture, then added a bit of berry sugar. She then hurried back out of their warm home with an empty jar tucked under her arm.
She walked carefully through the cold forest, the frigid snow under her bare feet not bothering her at all, as she’d gotten used to it over time. Finally the stream came into view, and Ivy bent down and dipped the jar into the water, catching enough to add to the dough. Then she started back towards their burrow.
I can’t wait for the raspberry pie! she thought excitedly.