Said the cactus to the rose,
“How I wish I were like you.
You are pleasant for the nose
And the eyes all love you, too.
People plant you in their gardens
And they treat you with great care
Then they give you to their loved ones
Or they wear you in their hair.
No one mulches me or prunes me
No one wishes I’d grow faster
No loved one wants me for their birthday
And wearing me’d be a disaster.

Said the rose, “You must be kidding.
I’m the one who wants to be
like a cactus in the desert
Standing tall and strong and free.
You don’t need a hand to tend you.
You don’t droop in too much sun.
No one cuts you up and steals you.
They take pictures, then they’re done.
I’m at the mercy of all people.
I have thorns, but still they pick me.
While you are left alone, defended
By your skin so tough and prickly.”

Said the bee to both, “Oh, zip it!
All you flowers are so funny.
All that matters are your blossoms,
and both work fine for making honey.”

The Giant Sunflowers

On a tiny little farm in the center of the valley lived a family who had 5 lovely daughters.  Their father enjoyed planting a garden and raising animals to help provide the food they needed.  This wasn’t just an ordinary garden – this was a large, huge, gigantic garden with every imaginable kind of food.  There was the sweetest corn on the cob that you ever tasted, there were big red tomatoes and little yellow tomatoes that looked like tiny light bulbs.  There were many different kinds and colors of squash, potatoes, pumpkins, cucumbers, onions, lettuce, okra, spinach, green beans, carrots, peppers, watermelons and cantaloupes, and even awful tasting parsnips… and then…there were sunflowers.

Now sunflowers are not exactly vegetables, but they have seeds that make very tasty snacks.  With bright yellow faces they grow on a stem that makes them look something like a small tree.  They certainly made a nice border around the large, huge, gigantic garden.

Raising a garden is a lot of work.  The dirt has to be dug up, the seeds have to be planted, the plants have to be watered – and in the center of the valley, the plants had to be watered every day.  Then there are the weeds – those other plants that try to grow where you don’t want them too…and they have to be pulled up and thrown away.

So the father of the family needed lots of help from his lovely daughters to take care of the garden.  While each of the girls did their part, Kathy seemed to do especially well at watering the plants.  She would get up very early in the morning to make sure the garden had a good long drink before the day became too hot.  She got lots of freckles on her face from standing out in the morning sun, but there was a feeling of satisfaction from helping care for those plants.

The garden made the family happy – but the father was especially proud of the sunflower plants.  As the days went by, they grew taller and taller and their bright yellow faces shown brighter and brighter.  He would tell his friends that he had never had such grand sunflowers…they were taller than Kathy…taller than her father…before long they were taller than the house…they were a sight to see!

And then, a sad thing happened.  One day after Kathy gave those big plants a drink, she forgot to turn off the water…so the hose ran water on them all night long.  When the father came out in the morning, he was very surprised that he couldn’t see his tall, bright sunflowers.  What had happened to them?  Where did they go? Oh my, their roots couldn’t take all that water – and they had crashed right down to the ground. There lay those big giants with their faces in the mud.

So the father was sad and Kathy felt bad – but from then on, she remembered to turn off the water!!

Bluebell and Buttercup

Not so far away, but very, very long ago, there lived two fairy sisters named Bluebell and Buttercup. In their day fairies looked the same as other people, only much more beautiful and with powers that could be felt though they couldn’t be seen. Bluebell and Buttercup, the only daughters of the fairy queen, were the most beautiful of all the fairies and the most powerful, too. But they were spoiled and selfish and didn’t realize that their power was given for the good of everyone. They thought their power was theirs to play with, and that is exactly what they did.

The sisters were always causing trouble. When they were just two years old, Bluebell caught three mice, turned them purple, and kept them as pets. Buttercup was jealous of those mice, so she grew them all three feet tall to scare her sister. They ate all the cats in the county before the fairy queen finally caught them and shrunk them down again.

When they were five, Bluebell discovered that she loved chocolate, so she turned all the fence posts in the neighborhood into chocolate bars. The sun came out and melted all those chocolate fences before she could eat them. The cows and sheep and horses and chickens all got free from their fields and ran loose everywhere. In the middle of the chaos, Buttercup decided to make the best of the melted chocolate situation and turned all the grass into vanilla ice cream to make some sundaes. The mess was unbelievable. It took all the fairies several days to pick up all the sticky chicken feathers and wash the chocolate clumps out of the sheep’s wool.

When the girls were seven, they needed more time to play outside with their new bouncy ball, so they stopped the sun in the sky. It burned and burned until some of the dry grass caught fire, and there was a big blaze, and everyone was so tired from being awake for so long that they couldn’t even lift the buckets of water to fight the fire. If the fairy queen hadn’t come just in time and made it rain all over the fire, who knows what would have happened?

On their tenth birthday, Buttercup turned all the trees purple because that was Bluebell’s favorite color, and Bluebell made hundreds of mushrooms grow everywhere because they were Buttercup’s favorite food. All of that was fine until their two spells collided and giant purple mushrooms the size of trees began to sprout up everywhere. One popped up right under the Buttercup’s feet and she was stuck on the top of a twelve foot tall mushroom until her mother came along and fixed things again.

But the worst catastrophe of all happened when Bluebell and Buttercup were thirteen. Bluebell had gotten a new dress. It was purple, of course, and sparkly and swishy. She was so proud of her dress that she couldn’t stop talking about how pretty she looked it in. Buttercup was annoyed. When she couldn’t take anymore of Bluebell’s bragging, she said, “Like a toad all green and spotty, make that purple dress turn dotty!”

Bluebell’s sparkly purple dress was suddenly covered with ugly green polka dots. She was so mad that she instantly said, “In any dress I’m prettier than you, especially when your skin is blue!”

Buttercup instantly turned bright blue. She was furious. She ran at Bluebell yelling, “Think you’re pretty when you’re tall? Let’s see what you look like small!”

Bluebell shrank down until she was only the size of a leaf. The flowers in their mother’s garden towered over her. She couldn’t see her sister. She couldn’t see anything but the stems of the flowers and a little patch of blue sky peeking through the roof of yellow tulips above her. She was so scared that she spoke without thinking, “I’m a fairy, I won’t cry, I just need some wings to fly.” Instantly, delicate wings sprouted from her back, and she fluttered up above the flowers. Elated, she looked around for her sister.

At first she didn’t see her. It wasn’t until she heard a voice calling her name that she turned and saw Buttercup, two inches tall, flying toward her on tiny fragile wings. Each sister stared at the other’s blue face. Every spell that they had spoken had worked on both of them, and they hadn’t even realized it. They began to feel a little afraid. Buttercup whispered, “Spell go back without a trace. Give me back my normal face.” Nothing happened.

Bluebell sniffled a little and said, “Even if my sister wins, magic make me big again.” Nothing happened. They couldn’t undo their own magic. More scared than ever, the sisters flew off to find their mother.

They looked in the queen’s palace, but they didn’t see anyone. They looked in the gardens and in the forest, and still they didn’t see anyone. Now they were absolutely terrified. Finally, they went to the queen’s fairy pool. There they saw all the fairies gathered around the water, looking at their reflections. Every single one of them was tiny and blue, and every single one of them had wings. Bluebell and Buttercup were horrified. Their mother flew over to them.

“Girls, I assume we have you to thank for our new appearance?”

The girls nodded miserably and waited for their mother to make everything right. She did nothing. “I’m sorry, girls, I already tried. There is nothing I can do either. Together your magic proved too strong to be undone.”

Buttercup and Bluebell felt so sorry for what they had done that they worked very hard from that day on. They helped everyone make new tiny houses to live in out of twigs and flower petals and hollowed out pumpkins. They learned how to make a tiny little oven for baking tiny loaves of bread. And they made friends with all the animals of the forest, so that none of them would eat the fairies as they went about their work. Eventually the fairies learned to enjoy their new wings and make the best of their new life. But Bluebell and Buttercup never used their magic again.

And so it is that to this day, all the fairies are very , very small, and they all fly on delicate wings.