Have you ever had a Nik-L-Nip? It’s a type of candy made to look like tiny soda bottles, made of wax, and filled with flavored syrup. You bite off the top, drink the liquid, and chew the bottles like gum. They are vintage kid candy and found in specialty shops, often sold based on pure nostalgia.

My grand-niece, A-bean, says they are “Fun, colorful creative and you can warm up the wax and shape it differently.” She’s not only creative, but A-bean is also a rock whisperer.

Family is trekking to Michigan in waves of summer visits and I couldn’t be happier. The Keweenaw Peninsula is not on any road to anywhere. It’s remote. A deliberate commitment to travel. One I appreciate because it’s a joy to share the beauty and wonder that is this Lake Superior place with its rich rocks and water.

When A-bean and her brother Spartan arrived she asked, “Why do you have so many rocks?”

She hadn’t even seen a fraction of them. Before long we were scouring rooms, gardens, and my special boxed collections. I taught her how to use geometric shapes to build grids, placing stones at various intersections. A-bean picked up the art of sensing a rock’s energy in the palm of her hand and she built a grid from ones that gave her an electric impulse. Mind you, it can take years for rock tenders to develop such skills. Before long she was listening to stones.

As you can imagine, this nine-year-old was thrilled to sleep in the Unicorn Room. I dare say, the Unicorn Room was thrilled to have her as a guest. She’s an enchanting one, my grand-niece. When not talking to my rocks, she hangs out in the raspberry patch.

Of course, we had to visit my favorite beach at McLain’s. Lake Superior had responded to a cold front with massive waves and no one was on the beach. The storm surge was so forceful, waves ate away at the beach, leaving few rocks to hunt. A-bean got into the edge water with me, unafraid. I kept close to her in case she stumbled when a wave hit. Todd kept watch over us all as Mause dug in the sand, Spartan threw rocks, and my SIL and her husband took photos. It was a magnificent day to introduce family to the Lake.

Earlier, when my niece and her husband, and their son visited, the lake was calm and we swam at Eagle Harbor. I wonder how it will be next week? Lady Lake is predictably unpredictable.

You might think we’d be setting up a prompt for vintage candy or rocks, but A-bean had another idea. She picked the photo prompt and theme. So, yup. Rubber ducks. If you want to add rocks or childhood sweets, feel free to go where creativity is flowing for you. And, not feeling creative? Writers, that’s when we push through and surprise ourselves!

Time to dash off to the farm for deliveries and a tour. We might be off the beaten path in the Keweenaw, but you can’t beat the experience.

July 18, 2023, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a rubber duck. Where is this duck — somewhere typical like a tub or somewhere surprising like a roller derby. Who is with the duck? What is happening? Go where the prompt leads!

  1. Submit by July 24, 2023. Please use the form below if you want to be published in the weekly collection. The Collection publishes on the Thursday following the next Challenge. Stories must be 99 words. Rules & Guidelines.
  2. Writers retain all copyrights to any stories published at Carrot Ranch.
  3. A website or social media presence is not required to submit. A blog or social media link will be included in the title of any story submitted with one.
  4. Please include your byline with your title on one line. Example: Little Calves by Charli Mills. Your byline can be different from your name.
  5. Please include the hashtag #99WordStories when sharing either the Challenge or Collection posts on social media.

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