Mr. Larson leaned back against a fence post and scratched his beard, thoughtfully. He had on a pair of faded overalls, muddy work boots, and a wide-brimmed felt hat. He held his favorite pipe in one hand, and stood for a while in thought. Today he had a large project in store. Not only was Lara away from home for several hours at a sewing circle, but all the girls had skipped off to some very important event that day also. Only the Larson men folk remained, Anders and little Peder. "It's just you and me today, son." He said to Peder. "Can we do it?" He gestured towards the Larson cabin, raising his eyebrows hopefully. Peder appraised the cabin with a studious look. After a moment he agreed heartily. "Where do we start, Papa?" With a solid pat on the back, Mr. Larson and Peder strode over to the barn to begin the task of the day. "Atta boy Peder." Anders encouraged, and they set to work.
They labored well into the afternoon on their shared surprise project. The sounds of sawing, hammering, nailing, wrenching, sanding, and scraping echoed throughout Pleasant Valley, sending birds twittering away from the homestead hilltop, and squirrels scampering off in all directions. Several neighbors stopped by to see what all the commotion was about.
"Good gracious, what have we here?" Said Cristal to Suzanne on a stroll through the countryside. "Whatever will Lara say to this, her husband and son have gone and completely torn apart her home! It's demolished, completely. Oh my. I am quite distraught, as I am sure she will be. What do you think, dahling?" Suzanne tutted. "Well let us simply hope that Lara is in a good temper when she returns after the circle tonight. Woe betide poor Mr. Larson if it still looks like this!" The two ladies bustled on past the cabin, glancing back at little Peder who was busy nailing together several long planks.
Next to wander past the homestead was a skateboarding Alison McCann. "Dude, the Larson's are moving or something. At least their house is moving.. What?" She slid her skateboard around a temporary wooden wall to find where all the hammering was coming from. "Hey man," she said to Peder. He put down his hammer for a moment and wiped a bead of sweat from his little brow. "Mama's getting a bigger house," he said, patiently. "That's why Papa and I have so so so so much to do. We only have 'til tonight to finish everything. It's so much work, but me and Papa are gonna do it. All of it." He grabbed his hammer again and pounded a nail a few more times. It was being a very stubborn nail. "Good luck with that, man, that's tough. But totally awesome that you have big plans. Rock on!" She hopped back onto her skateboard and waved as she slid away.
Following her was a rather flustered Josefina, who nearly tripped over a few buckets on her way into town. She let her overflowing leather pouch of herbs and leaves fall to the ground as she stopped to adjust her rebozo. "What are you doing here, pequino Pedro?" She asked Peder. He spared her a quick glance from a log that he had propped up against the nailed planks. "Papa and I are adding a bunch of rooms to the cabin." He explained, importantly. "A loft for all the girls, and a nice big kitchen and fireplace room for mama so she can put all her things out for people to see, and have her weaving loom right in the middle of it all." He said very quickly. He was very busy with the nails. "That is impressive, Pedro. She will be very pleased, I'm sure." Josefina nodded, approvingly. She waved at Mr. Larson from across the field and continued on her way to town.
A weary Mrs. Larson trudged along the dusty main street into town. It was very quiet today, she noticed. Even Britta and Kirsten weren't saying much. She hoisted her large sewing basket back up into position and continued on towards home. "We're going to need to pull something together for dinner. It's a bottom-of-the-barrel kind of a night. I don't have the energy to make anything fancy." They wound their way up the twisting road to the cabin to find a surprisingly silent hilltop. "What happened to the birdies?" Britta said, looking around. Kirsten wondered too. It was strangely quiet. All of a sudden, two hands clapped over Lara's eyes. "Oh my! What's this now?" She said with a laugh. "Peder and I have a surprise for you," said a low voice behind her. "Get ready, on the count of three. One.. two... " he uncovered her eyes, "three!" She gasped. The cabin looked beautiful. Brand new windows glinted along an extra room added to the side of the cabin. The shiny new logs looked sturdy and strong and even proud in the sunlight, and a beautiful new carving adorned the front door. "What's the special occasion? What inspired you boys to do all this?" Lara said, flabbergasted by the amount of work that had transpired during her absence. "Does it require an occasion?" Anders countered. Peder hugged Lara around the knees, and put in his two cents. "We just love you, mama!"