It was a nice, unusually warm fall day, and Jeremy was playing in the garden. An early frost had taken care of the last of the vegetables, so Dad didn’t mind if he played there. Last week had been cold and rainy and Jeremy was happy for the sunshine.

The ground was muddy enough to pull on his shoes and make squishy squelching sounds as he walked around and pulled on interesting bits of vine. He paused and looked around.   Maybe if he added a bit more water, he could make a pool. Then he could pull off his socks and shoes and run around in circles and make a whirlpool.

Jeremy ran for the hose and turned it on. He aimed it at the garden and waited. It started puddling up in a promising sort of way, but then it ran out into the yard and made the grass all marshy. It also ran under the fence into the neighbor’s lawn. That probably wasn’t good.

The neighbor was grumpy and shouted at Jeremy from over the fence if he played to loudly in the yard. The neighbor’s cat was mean too and liked to come into the yard and scratch at Jeremy if he tried to pet him. Jeremy privately believed they deserved each other.

It was time to turn off the hose before the neighbor noticed that his yard was a little flooded. It didn’t look like it was going to work anyways. Maybe if he dug a big hole? But he wasn’t really allowed to dig in the garden without permission.

At this point Jeremy’s socks and shoes and ankles and trousers and shirt and jacket and everything really were all wet and muddy. It was probably time to go inside and take a nice warm bath.

Jeremy didn’t get to go outside again that day, because he was in trouble for tracking mud all over the house and leaving his muddy things in the towel cupboard on top of the clean towels. So, he was excited that it was still nice out and he was able play outside for a little bit the next afternoon.

He ran over to the garden. The grass was still soggy. Strange.   It hadn’t rained at all the night before. “Why is the grass all wet?” He said out loud.

“Magic,” a deep voice said. A sea monster shimmered into view.

“The Loch Ness monster!” Jeremy said.

“Nonsense. Of course not,” the sea monster said.

“Huh?” Jeremy paused, still prepared to run away. “Then what are you?”

“Nessie is my cousin. I’m the Loch Lomond monster, of course. You can call me Lomondy,” the monster said.

“I’ve never heard of you,” Jeremy said.

“I travel a lot, Nessie doesn’t,” the monster said. “I like it here. There is wildlife to eat and all this nice squishy mud. I think I’ll stay here forever.”

“Dad!” Jeremy ran yelling into the house. Dad followed him back outside, but there was nothing there. Dad turned to go inside. Lomondy shimmered into view and winked at him, then disappeared.

The flooded garden remained flooded. There were no more squirrels running along the tops of the fences.   Birds stopped pecking along the edge of the garden for worms. The neighbor’s cat went missing.

Jeremy kept checking outside, but for a week, nothing happened. Then one day, when he went out, Lomondy was there.   “Thank you for your hospitality,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed the visit.”

“Are you leaving? I thought you were going to stay here forever.” Jeremy said.

“I was joking,” Lomondy said. “The weather is changing and I’d like to stay ahead of the cold. If I wanted to be cold, I’d stay the winter in Loch Lomond.”

“Will you come again?” Jeremy asked.

“Will you flood the garden again next year?” Lomondy asked.

“Maybe I will,” Jeremy said.

“Then maybe I will come again,” Lomondy answered. She disappeared and the water in the garden started to drain away. The next day it snowed. Jeremy built a snow Lomondy in the garden, so he wouldn’t forget.