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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bettie’s Important Discovery

The wise old tree that grew in the magical garden provided many helpful services for those living there. Not only did the tree give shade to the many plants and flowers that grew below, but it was also the home of many types of insects that lived in its hick bark and strong, leafy branches.
High up in the top branches of the tree was something special. It was a beehive! In the beehive, the bees would work very hard to make something very sweet and yummy to eat! That’s right!—honey! The bees would buzz in and out of the hive every day; the worker bees would travel to many flowers in the fields and gardens below and they would collect pollen to make their honey. They would then fly back and give it to the other bees that would take it and turn it into lots of nice honey for all the bees to enjoy!
From time to time the gardener would also come and gather the honey for his family. They really liked the honey and would use it for so many things! And so every day the bees would continue working hard to make that delicious honey–for themselves, for all the little baby bees that lived inside the hive, and for the gardener and his family.
In that hive lived a little bee. Her name was Bettie and she was a worker bee. When she was younger, she worked hard to clean the beehive and feed the baby bees. When she got a little bit older, she helped to collect the pollen from the bees that had gone out to gather it.
Today was special though, because now Bettie was old enough to go with the others from flower to flower to collect pollen. She was a little nervous, as she had been waiting for this day for a long time and it finally arrived!
Bettie was amazed when she flew out of the hive, down to the garden below, and saw so many beautiful and colorful flowers. She spent the whole day buzzing from flower to flower, collecting pollen and then carrying it back to the bee hive. She was so excited and she just loved it. When she got home, her friend Tubs asked, "How was your day?"
She answered, "I had the most wonderful day! I never knew the outside world was like that. There are so many beautiful things to see and enjoy."
The next morning she was happy to go out again and gather the pollen for honey, visiting the pretty flowers once more and exercising her little bee wings. Day after day, Bettie flew amongst the gardens and fields. At first, she really enjoyed it and had a great time buzzing around with Tubs and her other bee friends.
After a little while, though, she began to get tired of doing the same thing every single day. One day, while gathering the pollen for the honey, she began to complain.
"Oh, it’s the same old flowers and the same old job I have to day after day. Then, after all my hard work, the other bees make and eat the honey. Sometimes the farmer even comes and takes it away. I don’t have anything saved up for all the hard work I have done. I do have enough honey to eat, but it’s still so much work and I don’t want to keep doing it day after day just so the other bees can take away the pollen that I have worked so hard to find!"
As she was going to sleep that night, Bettie had an idea. She thought to herself, "I know, I can do it all by myself! I can make my very own beehive and I can gather all the pollen and then I can keep it all for myself. Nobody will know! It will be my very own beehive and my very own honey and I will do it all alone!"
The next morning, the little bee woke up very early before any of the other bees had gone out. She buzzed over to the far corner of the garden, where she found some big plants. Bettie decided, "This is where I am going to live from now on." She searched around for a safe and sheltered spot and finally found a little hallowed place inside one of the large plant’s stems and decided to make it her home. She crawled around, inside and out, trying to make it tidy and comfortable. It was not nearly as comfortable as her little cell at home, but she still did not want to go back. She made it as nice as she could, and then went out to collect pollen.
All day Bettie traveled back and forth, collecting pollen and dropping it inside her new little home, then going out to get some more. She flew far away from the area that she and her bee friends usually collected pollen so that none of the other bees would see her and ask what she was doing and where she had been. Back and forth she buzzed. Each time the bee dropped off more pollen, she was so proud of herself, thinking, "I am going to do this all by myself and I am going to have the honey all to myself and everything".
By the end of the day, Bettie was very tired. She was also quite hungry. She realized then that the pollen had not turned into honey! She thought to herself, "How do I turn this into honey?" She could not eat just plain pollen.
Now Bettie was starting to get a little bit upset and frustrated. She considered going back to the beehive, so that she could get something to eat; but then said to herself, "Maybe it will be honey by morning. Anyway, everyone will ask me where I have been, and I do not want to have to tell them about my wanting to move out into a new and different home, away from all of them." Bettie went to sleep that night tired from collecting so much pollen and very, very hungry.
The next morning Bettie woke up a little later than usual. She was still quite hungry, but decided to try again, going out on her own. She flew around all day, collecting all the pollen she could and bringing it back to her new little home. There was so much pollen, but it was still not honey. She was so tired and was about to buzz inside and try sleeping, again with an empty stomach, when she heard a familiar buzz.
It was her best friend, Tubs! "Tubs?" Bettie said in surprise when she saw her friend buzzing past.
Tubs stopped and hovered down close to her, "Hey, Bettie! Is that you? Oh, I’ve missed you so much! Where have you been? Is everything okay? Did you get hurt?"
Bettie looked up and she looked quite embarrassed. She was quiet.
Then Tubs saw all the pollen in the little stem. She was very excited and asked, "Wow, did you collect all that for the hive? That is so much! You have been working so hard. You must have wanted to surprise everybody by collecting so much pollen. You are a really hard worker, Bettie. Thank you! Do you want me to help you carry it back to the hive?"
Bettie was quiet for a moment, and then finally answered, "You know what? Actually Tubs, I wanted to do it all by myself."
"Do what all by yourself?" Tubs did not quite understand.
"I was tired of working with everybody else and sharing all the pollen I worked hard to gather. I thought that if I had my own home and I made my own honey, then I wouldn’t have to share it with the other bees, or with the farmer and that I’d be able to enjoy as much honey as I wanted to and have it all for myself."
"Oh." Said Tubs.
"Something went wrong, though. It is not turning into honey; and my little home I found here is not nearly as comfortable as the hive. I have been working so hard to collect pollen, but have not had anything to eat for the last couple of days. I am so discouraged."
Tubs said, "I understand. It is not easy to work hard, all to share it with everybody else, but you know what?"
"What?" asked Bettie.
"Everyone else is working hard too. Some bees are working to help and fix the beehive. Some bees help to guard the hive from danger. The queen bee lays all the eggs that then hatch into more bees to help us work. We go out and collect the pollen. Other bees help to get the pollen from us and take it where it will turn into honey. We all work together. Even though it is hard work sometimes, doing it together is what makes it such a wonderful hive.
Bettie said, "You are right, Tubs. I am sorry that I wanted to do it all alone. I would be happy if you could help me carry all this pollen back to the hive."
Tubs answered cheerfully, "I would be happy to do just that! Come on. All the bees were wondering where you are. They will be glad to see you again."
Tubs and Bettie flew back to the hive with all the pollen. The bees were all so happy to see all the pollen that they brought, but they were even happier to see Bettie because they missed her. Bettie was the happiest of all, because she had discovered that doing everything alone was not so fun or easy; it was most fun to enjoy the friendship of others and to work together as a team to get the job done.
Bettie went to sleep that night in her cozy and comfortable cell with a tummy full of delicious honey, and as she drifted off to sleep, she thought how happy she was to be home. She whispered, "There’s no place like my wonderful home."

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Snow, Bud, and Blossom

Snow, Bud, and Blossom

It was nearing the end of fall, and a cold breeze blew through the garden, causing the last few leaves to fall from the wise old tree. They drifted down to the ground below, where many of the flowers were preparing to go to sleep for the winter. The plants were tired and the winter would be too cold for them to be able to grow or bloom. They wished each other a peaceful winter as they folded up their petals and leaves to sleep.

The tree had seen the seasons change many times since he was a young sapling, from spring to summer, summer to fall, fall to winter, and then back again to spring. He told the flowers to have a nice rest and that he would see them again in the spring.

Near the garden, in the gardener’s house, it was cozy and warm. A small fire burned, adding a glowing cheerfulness to the living room, where the gardener and his wife were sitting. The gardener was planning what he was going to plant in his garden the next year.

He asked his wife, “Grace, do you have any ideas about what I should plant next spring in our garden?”

The wife answered, “Gary, you always grow such beautiful things in the garden every year. There is one thing we have never planted though—a tulip. They are such lovely spring flowers.”

“That is a wonderful idea,” replied the gardener. “Now is the perfect time to plant a tulip as well, before the ground is frozen over. Tulips need to be planted the year before and stay in the ground all winter in order to sprout and bloom in the spring. Any later and the weather will be too cold for me to plant it. I will go tomorrow morning to the market and buy one.”

* * *

The next morning, bright and early, the gardener made his way to the flower market. He had bought many young plants and seeds there, and knew exactly what he wanted this time. Most of the seeds he would not plant until spring, but tulips were special.

Meanwhile a little tulip bulb, that looked very much like an onion, lay on a market stand with a lot of other tulip bulbs. This particular tulip was very eager. It was her first day at the market and she was sure that she would be bought by someone today. She could hardly wait.

She noticed someone walking straight to the stall where she was impatiently waiting to be noticed. Quite a few people had passed by this morning, but this tall man was the first who actually came to the stall. The tulip bulb wished she could bounce up and down and say, “Pick me! Pick me!” She waited and hoped, but the man turned away.

“Oh,” the little bulb thought in despair. “I am never going to be bought.” Just then, the man came back with a bag. He picked her up and gently placed her in the bag.

“I am taking you home with me,” said the gardener, “to be planted in my garden.”

The little bulb was thrilled as she thought to herself: “Oh, I am just so happy! I can’t wait. I am going to start growing the very second I get planted inside the soil. I want to grow right away into a big plant with many lovely tulips.”

Once the gardener arrived home, he went straight to the garden, found his spade, and began to dig. He made a deep hole, put the tulip bulb inside, and covered it with soft soil and sand. It was a little bit cold and dark, but the tulip did not mind. “I will be sprouting out of here any day now!” she thought to herself, and began to wait.

The tulip waited under the ground all the rest of that day, and then through the night, and the next day, and the next night as well! Still, nothing was happening.

The following morning was cold and still, as the first snowfall of the year gently blanketed the garden, beginning to cover many of the flowers and plants. The tree stood above the carpet of snow. He thought about the four seasons, and tried to decide which one he liked best of all. Although during the winter he missed the sights and sounds of the other seasons, he enjoyed the peace and quiet and the chance to rest as he waited patiently for the spring to come. Each year the garden looked a little bit different, as the gardener usually tried to get some new plant or flower. Just the other day, in fact, he had noticed the gardener planting something that looked like an onion. The tree wondered what it would grow into once spring arrived.

The tree was busy thinking that very thought when he heard a frustrated noise coming from under the ground. “Is everything okay?” asked the tree.

“Who is that?” said the little voice.

“I am a wise old tree, and who are you?”

“I am a little tulip bulb. I was planted so long ago, and I still have not begun to sprout and grow. It has been two whole days already!”

The tree laughed a deep and hearty laugh. “Two days, little bulb; it takes more time than that to grow.”

“How many more days will it take? Three? Four? It seems like I have been waiting so long. Oh, how I want to grow big and beautiful, and blossom lovely tulips!” the little bulb cried impatiently.

“Everything takes time to grow, little flower, whether it be a tree, a plant, or a little bee or butterfly. If everything grew all in one day and you did not have to wait for anything, it would not be so special, to watch things grow and enjoy each stage that life brings.”

“What is a stage?” asked the little voice beneath the ground.

“A stage is a part of life. Like when a human grows: first they are a newborn baby; then they begin to walk and talk. Afterwards, they start to run and learn many things as a child. They grow older and become a teenager. Then finally, they are an adult, and still they learn many things, as they continue to go through the stages of life.”

“When will I start to grow though? I do not even have a tiny sprout or anything!” replied the tulip.

“What you do not see right now, little tulip, is that it has begun to snow. It is cold, and the ground will soon freeze over. The covering of snow will remain for a long time, throughout the winter. If you began to grow now, your little stem and leaves would not be strong enough to last through the cold winter. You would shrivel up and die. The best thing to do is rest, and when the spring arrives, you will be ready to grow big and strong. I promise.” The tree tried his best to reassure the little bulb that was so eager to grow.

The tulip spoke again. “I think I understand. Thank you for explaining it to me. I will try to have patience and rest so that I will be ready when the springtime comes.”

“That is good. Have a good rest. I will see you when all the little plants begin to grow.”

At that, the little bulb grew quiet and tried her best to rest. Finally she fell asleep, and remained that way the whole winter through.

* * *

Little by little, the snow started to fall less often; the sun started shining more, showing little patches of dark brown ground here and there. Underneath one patch of ground, the little bulb woke up. She noticed a tiny shoot of green beginning to sprout. “It’s time!” she whispered to herself excitedly. Every day the green shoot grew a little more, until one morning, the little green sprout broke through the ground, and the tulip finally saw the big world around her.

The first thing she noticed was a big tree that had also begun to grow bright green leaves. “Hello!” she called up to the tree that towered above her.

“Well, hello, little sprout! I see that you have finally pushed your way through the ground, just at the right time too! Did you have a nice winter rest?”

“Yes, thank you! I am so glad I did. Now I feel ready to grow and I am so excited that it is spring at last!”

“So am I,” said the tree. “So am I.”

One by one, the other plants and flowers began to wake up; their leaves started growing. All the plants in the garden were so glad that spring had come, and with it, a new stage of growth and experiencing new and happy times. Happiest of all was the little tulip, because she had learned that everything takes time to grow but that waiting patiently for something made her so happy once it finally happened.

Pretty soon, blossoms were bursting out everywhere, bringing color and life to the entire garden. The very first plant to blossom was the tulip, with a beautiful light blue flower. The gardener called his wife out to see, and they both admired the lovely little tulip.

“That is the most beautiful tulip I have ever seen!” exclaimed the wife; and the gardener wholeheartedly agreed.