written and illustrated by Adrienne Potter
Copyright @ Nov. 2006 by Adrienne Potter
May be printed for home or classroom use.
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The boy saw a flash of red on the cliff and knew he had to have a closer look. It was overcast but an occasional ray of sun broke through and lit the object. As he neared the base of the cliff he saw that it was the most beautiful flower he had ever seen. Somehow it had managed to thrive on the side of the cliff by stretching its roots into a crevice where a tiny bit of dirt had lodged. How had it survived? He tried several times to climb the cliff but each time he was forced to descend.
Plants were his hobby so the next day he came back with climbing gear and carefully went up the forty-foot rock wall to reach the flower, searching for hand-holds in the rough, stone surface. It was breathless work but at last he reached his goal. He tenderly removed the root tendrils, lifted the flower, and placed it gently in his leather pouch. He carried it home to a small hothouse he had constructed and replanted it in the finest soil.
As the weeks passed it grew even more beautiful and gave off seeds, which he planted. He showed it to his friend, a professor of botany, who excitedly told him it was one of the rarest flowers in the world. The seeds grew until he had a gorgeous family of the rare, bright, fragrant blossoms. He tended them daily, brought friends to see it, and visited them nightly before going to bed. He took the flowers to several shows, even traveling long distances, and they always won awards and prizes.
As the years passed he began to have other interests and he started a flower shop in town and spent long hours there, tending the beautiful flowers that came in from the farms and nearby markets. Business thrived and so he left early and came home late. One day he came home for lunch and stopped in to see his hothouse. He was stunned. The beautiful flower had wilted and the leaves drooped. Many leaves had fallen to the ground and the seedlings hung their heads as if in shame. The soil was dry and the wind had come in through a hole in the glass. How could he have let this happen?! He cursed himself and went to work to save the flower and its seedlings, but he feared it was too late. His prize flower was dying.
He fed it, watered it, gave it medicine, and replaced some of the dry, used soil with the finest soil from his shop. Day after day he tended it, but nothing helped. The seedlings grew stronger, but it seemed that the beautiful flower had lost its fight after hanging on so long and desperately in the first lonely part of its life. He wondered how he could have been so foolish and insensitive. How could he have rescued the plant and then abandoned it? Tears fell off his cheeks and he begged the plant to keep fighting. He fell asleep that night in the hothouse, his breath warming the flower all night long. In the morning he woke to find a tiny new bud! It was going to live!
From that day on he never neglected his precious flower and the seedlings. He kept his shop going strong but stopped working such long hours to make sure that he had to time to spend with his beloved hothouse. He once again took the flowers to the gardening shows and remembered how his carelessness had almost cost him the most precious thing he owned.
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