From the second they were born, Pavlova loved them. Two little girl lambs. They were perfect, tiny bundles of fluffy, cream wool. Pavlova gazed at them in adoration. She felt she was the luckiest sheep in the world.
There were still traces of snow on Lime Stone Hill but, apart from that, the banks and dales were clear. She was pleased her twins had waited for better weather before being born.
“What a poppet and a sweetie,” cooed Christopher.
Pavlova smiled. He would be a loving father to these two adorable girls.
“Shall we call them ‘Poppet’ and ‘Sweetie’?” asked Pavlova, remembering how important names were to Christopher.
“Oh, maybe for now while they are so small and new. However, we must give their proper names our utmost consideration,” he stated.
Aunt Marshmallow came to visit. Her eyes melted when she saw the two newborns. She didn’t need to say a word. If Pavlova needed her, Marshmallow would be there. Garibaldi galloped up. He was so pleased for them all. He trotted a dance around them because he couldn’t stand still. It was the only way he could express his happiness.
“Congratulations. I am so very pleased for you,” he called out.
Pavlova smiled again. Garibaldi had been her friend from such an early age, he would be like an uncle to the twins.
“What wriggly, yellow creatures!” shrilled a voice. Everybody’s smile dropped. It was Prunella.
“You’ll have to call them ‘Mustard’ and ‘Custard’,” she proclaimed.
Pavlova’s eyes filled with tears. What harsh, horrible names for two sweet, little bundles.
“Now look here, Prunella,” a voice boomed out. It was Uncle Broccoli. Although quiet by nature, when he had something to say, he stated it quite clearly.
“Your comments are not appreciated at this sensitive and joyous time,” he continued. “I suggest you either refrain from speaking or remove yourself from the area,” he finished.
Aunt Marshmallow’s speechless glare left Prunella in no doubt that she had better remove herself. Having taken to wearing a tattered old blanket throughout the winter, Prunella pulled it tightly across her shoulders and marched off.
Softly, Marshmallow reassured Pavlova:
“They are not yellow at all. They are a beautiful, light cream. Like vanilla essence.”
Pavlova pondered. ‘Vanilla’ might make a nice name.
Pattie and Buttie cuddled the little lambs. They suggested that they could be called ‘Juniper’ and ‘Rowan’, like the fine and beautiful blooms they’d seen at Widdy Bank last summer. Pavlova rather liked the sound of those. Beanstalk, thinking of his favourite fruits, came up with ‘Peach’ and ‘Strawberry’. This prompted Garibaldi to remember his favourite Pizzas, and he thought that ‘Margherita’ and ‘Marinara’ would make fine names. Pavlova thought these suggestions were starting to get out of hand.
“Christopher, dear,” she whispered, now that they were at last alone. “We really must settle the names of our daughters. Here is a list of some I like, though you might have some ideas of your own.”
They discussed these at length. Christopher’s list included some herbs, such as ‘Rosemary’, ‘Sage’ and ‘Applemint’.
The hills were silent, waiting for the verdict. Dawn rose. Christopher went to the Cupmarked Rock and cleared his throat. He called out:
A straggly figure drew a tattered old blanket round her shoulders. Coughing mildly, Prunella was glad that winter was over. She wasn’t much interested in the twins, let alone their names. She was much more interested in her blanket, and straightened it by pulling the corners with her teeth. It wasn’t the smartest blanket in the world but, as far as she knew, she was the only sheep that had one, so she wore it with pride. She had gained it quite by accident, in November. Some late-season walkers had stopped on Cow Green, of all places, to rest and have some food. The smell of rich, harvest soup had wafted enticingly from their camp stove. She had mentioned to the cows that they might all like to follow her, at speed, to see if the people would give them some soup. The cows had been so enthusiastic they had immediately started to run. From the walking party’s perspective, the sight of a herd of cows charging toward them, led by a skinny sheep, had been enough to make them grab their cooking utensils and flee. Their old picnic blanket got left behind in the rush. Prunella had pounced upon it in an undignified manner in case there was any food left in it. There was none. Bending her knees she wriggled under it to continue the search. The cows helped straighten it by pulling the edges. Prunella suddenly felt the blanket lay square upon her shoulders, like a cloak, and it made her feel like a queen. With a swift manoeuvre, she swivelled to her feet. Majestically, the blanket stayed in place. Ignoring the cows’ complaints at the lack of soup, she had walked triumphantly away.
“We thank you all for your help and suggestions. My dear wife and I, after great deliberation and discussion, would like to announce that our daughters are to be named ‘Rowan’ and ‘Juniper’. A sleepy cheer echoed back. Pattie and Buttie were, quietly, ever so pleased.