She is a prickly kind of beautiful, soft and vibrant petals atop a stalk of thorns. If you seek to touch her beauty, know her defenses are strong but so is her love.
“Tallyhooooo and bugaboooooo! Troops, we have a problem,” Smith yelled, forgetting a whisper yell was the preferred communication for the Night Gardeners. He tilted his blue cone to the left and placed his hands on his hips just above his trowel holster.
“Smith, it is just one rabbit. I think this might be a wee overreaction. Yes?” Margie just wanted to weed tonight. Smith had been too focused on the nibbling of rabbits for her taste this week. This garden had a one rabbit problem, and Margie was content to weed and forget, weed and forget.
“Bob, can you explain to Margie about how one rabbit becomes thousands of rabbits, tearing your Centaurea montana from the earth, beautiful flowers and roots…NEVER TO RETURN?”
“You were always better at biology, Smithy. Anyways, what is the common name for Century Mount Tana?”
“Sweet weed whipper near a perennial, Bob. Amethyst on snow. I’m not even going to correct your pronunciation of the French name.”
“I thought it was Latin,” Margie poked the pint-sized, portly bear she called Smith.
“Enough, both of you. The enemy returns in a few minutes, and we must take back this garden and do so quietly. We don’t want to wake the ginger…public enemy number two. I have stacked some rocks over there. When it arrives, we will throw rocks at it until it surrenders…alive…or worse.”
“Smith, have you been sniffing too much weed killer? I am not killing that bunny. Live and let live, I say. It doesn’t attack us, and we are not attacking it.”
“So be it, Margie. Bob and I will be the brave souls to eradicate this menace.”
“Alrighty then, Smith. I’ll be in the back of the garden protesting this war by pulling weeds.” Margie pulled up her gardening apron hoisting the only thing ample about her…her bosom.
It was a muggy night in late June, the air heavier with Smith’s dissatisfaction over the rabbit who was now late to arrive. Bob stood behind Smith, a distracted foot soldier not entirely understanding the nature of this war. And just like that, the rabbit emerged from the darkness, pausing, wiggling its nose.
“Look at that Bob. Our enemy at the gate is mocking us.”
“Where’s the gate? I didn’t think the Rogers had a garden gate.”
“Of course they don’t, Bob! Now shhhhhhhh and grab us our weapons from that pile!”
As Bob slumped and trudged to the rock pile, quickly losing interest in hurting the rabbit, Margie emerged with her tiny shovel from the back of the garden.
“GOOOOOOOOOO NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWW!” Margie went running at the rabbit, like Braveheart against an entire army, her jiggle in full force. The rabbit quickly pivoted and hopped the hop of a thousand hops, disappearing into the night, a silent surrender.
“Well there we go, Smith. I don’t think the fuzzy fellow will be returning anytime soon.”
“Margie, the war is not over. We have won this battle, no thanks to you. We must be vigilant.”
“No thanks to me? Humph.” Margie stomped off with the truth at her side.
The next morning, the ginger girl, enemy number two, ran to the garden. She sprinkled pellets of rabbit food from her pet bunny named Sasha. She was determined to find Sasha some friends. Before she left, she bent down and eyed the gnome with the blue cone before lifting him and setting him face first in the dirt of her mother’s garden.
For the first story in this wee series:
“To the left, Bob. No, not that left, your other left,” the one with the unusually bulbous nose with a spot of dirt on the end whispered harshly into the dark of the night.
“You told me to put it over there the other day, Smith. I wish you would make up your mind. She’s going to notice this time.”
“Well, it’s about time she noticed. Everything would be dead out here if we weren’t helping her out.”
“I think she is doing a pretty good job. Her rosebush finally bloomed, and all of the perennials she planted last year came back.”
“Bob, she murdered the succulents, and she weeds like she is blind. Please do not defend her,” Smith wiggled his finger at Bob in admonition.
Bob shrugged and then started to pull on the planter with all his short, squat might to move it ten inches to the left, grunting and sweating even though it was a cool summer night. Sometimes he wondered if Smith was moving things around just to move things around even though he tried to sound like one of those botanists with his reasons. Bob stopped to adjust his long, pointy hat which had flipped to the back. He preferred it at attention, a centered green cone on top of his red, scratchy hair. It was then he heard a sneeze from the back of the garden, a dainty sneeze to start which triumphed at the end with a foghorn type sound. Margie had arrived.
Margie emerged from behind a Rhododendron. “Hello, gents. I see we have a good start to tonight’s efforts. How can I help?”
Smith sighed, hands on his hips. “Perhaps you could start by not sneezing like a ship coming into port, Margie. You know her kids can hear us. The ginger one comes to the window like a sentry when we are out here, and then she babbles stories to her mother during the day about us.”
“Oh, Smith, always so worried you are. If you could just enjoy this and worry less, I think you would have better humor.”
“My humor is not up for discussion. The health and success of this garden is our concern!”
“Okay, okay, no need to get your trowel in a tizzy. I will weed diligently tonight.”
“Perfect. Be sure to get weeds hiding inside of the bushes and plants. She always misses those,” Smith stroked his beard as if doing this made him look more in charge than he actually was. Bob was too genial to challenge him, and Margie did not want to spend precious gardening time to take on old Smithy.
The three gardeners worked well into the night, trimming, moving, watering, weeding, and all other manners of good gardening practices. As night faded into morning, they returned to their places, satiated by the soil and pollen covering them.
The ginger was the first to come out that morning. Her skinned knees met their eye level as she wandered around inspecting their hard work. She stopped briefly to stare at each of them. They could not respond. That is just not how they worked. She wandered the entire perimeter of the garden before returning to Smith and kneeling to look him directly in his immovable eyes.
“I know what you do at night, Smith. Even if my mom won’t listen, I know what you do, and someday I will catch you. Then, we can be friends.” With that, she ran off giggling like a fire-haired elven princess. To Smith, elves were like tall, beardless gnomes. He had no use for them, and he had no use for this little girl, especially the daughter of a substandard gardener.