Once there was a young wombat named Benson, who lived in a safe, happy wombat hole, with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.
One morning Benson’s mother made some particularly good banana and carrot muffins. They smelled so good, warm and golden, that Benson couldn’t wait to eat them. But his mother said, “These are too good to keep to ourselves. Let’s take them over to Nanna’s and share them.”
Benson was disappointed. Warm muffins straight from the oven were nearly his favourite thing, but then visiting Nanna was even more favourite, so he said, “Okay,” and off they went.
His mother let him carry the muffins, wrapped in a clean tea-towel, so he could breathe in their wonderful muffiny smell as they walked along. But as they walked under a big gum tree, a nestful of wasps noticed the lovely smell too, and came down to investigate.
Benson was afraid of wasps. One had stung him on the nose once and he still remembered how much it hurt. When he saw the wasps, his heart jumped and he started to run. Then he tripped and fell over flat on his tummy, with the muffins underneath him.
His mother managed to shoo the wasps away, and she helped Benson up. His leg was bleeding, and the muffins were completely squashed. Benson started to cry. He didn’t know which was worse, his hurt leg or the ruined muffins.
“Never mind,” said his mother. “Nanna will fix everything.”
Nanna was overjoyed to see them, as she always was. “Benson, what’s the matter?” she said.
He showed her his leg, and the squashed pile of muffins. Nanna smiled. “Don’t worry. We can put one of my special band-aids on it,” she said. She washed his leg, then put a band-aid with a bright, smiley face on it.
“There!” she said. “Now those muffins: they’ll be perfect for making a wonderful trifle. All we have to do is make some jelly and whip some cream.”
Benson helped Nanna make mulberry jelly and they sat down to wait for it to set and turn into jelly. Benson said, “Nanna, how come you’re always so happy? Even when the most beautiful muffins aren’t muffins any more?”
Nanna smiled. “I’ll tell you a story,” she said. “A long time ago, I had a very special friend named Cora. Everyone loved her. She was so full of joy, it made you happy just to be with her. I used to wonder what it was that made her so happy all the time.
“One day, she said to me, ‘My darling daughter, Maribelle, has just had a new baby. Would you like to come and see him with me?’ I said, ‘But Cora, it looks like it’s going to rain.’
“Cora said, ‘What’s a bit of rain? We can wear our gumboots and take an umbrella.’ So we did. We’d only just set out when it started to rain. Not just rain, it poured down. I wanted to turn around and go back, but Cora said, ‘It’s only a bit of rain. It will be wonderful for the garden.’ So we kept going.
“Then Cora stepped in a big puddle of mud. Her boot got stuck so her foot came right out of it, and she slipped over and got covered in mud.
“I said, ‘We’ll have to go back now,’ but Cora said, ‘It’s only a splash of mud. Don’t you love the feel of mud when it squishes between your toes?’ Then she smiled and started stamping in all the puddles. ‘It can’t get any worse, so I might as well enjoy myself,’ she said.
“But then it did get worse. A big gust of wind blew our umbrella inside out and snapped the handle off. The rain poured down on us. ‘Oh no, we’ll be soaked!’ I said. Cora said, ‘Lovely!’ and lifted her face up to the rain. ‘It will wash all the mud off.’
“We kept on going, getting wetter all the time. I was cold and miserable, but Cora was still happy and excited. Then we finally got to Maribelle’s house, and I found out why.
“Maribelle was so happy to see Cora that she didn’t notice we were both wet and muddy. She and Cora hugged and talked and laughed and took turns holding the baby and kissing him and telling each other how big and strong and beautiful he was. And that’s when I realised what it was that made Cora so happy. It was love.”
Benson said, “Is that all? Love?”
Nanna smiled and gathered him up onto her lap and kissed him. “Yes, Benson, just love. Ordinary, everyday love.” Then she said, “I think that jelly should be set by now, don’t you?”
They spread the squashed muffins in the bottom of a bowl and tipped the jelly on top, then they spread cream all over everything. Nanna got them a big spoon each and they tried it. It was wonderful.
“I think this is even better than just muffins,” Benson’s mother said.
Nanna said, “I think you’re right. It really is a great trifle.”
Benson just nodded because he had his mouth full. While he was eating, he thought about things. He said, “Nanna, is it because you love me that you’re happy all the time?”
“It absolutely is,” Nanna said. She kissed him on the nose and smiled at him.
Benson looked down at his smiley band-aid and he smiled back.