Rhonda Rabbit liked to wear her big, green apron when she tended her
flower garden. It had over-sized pockets to hold snippers, trowels, and
flowers. The large garden covered nearly an acre behind her cottage. The
forest began just beyond the garden. From just after the kite flying
contest through October, it produced the most beautiful flowers in
Ballymore. Now in early April, tulips, lilies, lilacs, marigolds, and
others were coming into bloom. The residents frequently visited to
choose bouquet baskets for their homes.
Not only was the flower garden beautiful, its scents wafted over the
whole south side of the pond. Combined with the sweet sap from the
forest pines, the effect was delightful. Her immediate neighbours, the
squirrels, were well pleased with their location. Grenby Groundhog also
enjoyed the fragrances but wouldn’t admit it. He wasn’t being mean. He
was just being Grenby.
Caring for a garden that size required a lot of effort, and her children
frequently worked with her. They planted, weeded, watered, cut, and
arranged. The chipmunks also stopped by occasionally to help. That is,
when they weren’t riding on kites or some other such foolishness.
Rhonda was planning her annual flower basket distribution. It was one of
her favourite projects. For everyone her spring creations were one of
the rites of the season. Each one was homemade and filled with gorgeous
flowers and coloured eggs. A pretty bow was attached to the handle to
complete the gift. There would be fifteen baskets in all.
This morning, the children went into the woods to gather sticks for the
baskets. They each carried a sturdy cloth bag. There were a lot of
sticks and twigs on the ground from the winter storms, but most weren’t
suitable for flower baskets. They needed to be a certain shape, diameter
and length. Colour didn’t matter as the baskets would be painted. The
children first hopped south, away from the pond, and stopped in a glade
that looked promising. As they were searching the area, a voice startled
“Boo! What ARE you doing?” asked the voice. Then, the voice hopped off a
nearby branch and landed between them. It was Shane Squirrel.
“You, really should be more polite,” said Rain.
Shane laughed and said, “I’m sorry. What are you doing?”
“We’re gathering sticks for the spring baskets,” answered Robbie.
“Can I help? I know a place where there are a lot of sticks.”
Shane spent more time in the forest than they and knew better where to
“Sure,” answered Rachel.
“I’ll climb up into the trees and lead you to them. It’s not very far.”
In an instant he bounded up a nearby pine tree and sat on its lowest
branch about fifteen feet off of the ground.
He yelled, “Let’s go.”
The young squirrel jumped from branch to branch in a southerly
direction. Shane was a pretty fast branch jumper and had to slow down
occasionally to let the rabbits catch up. After about ten minutes he
stopped and pointed down to a large pile of sticks. Unfortunately, the
pile was on the other side of a creek that they would have to cross.
This was the same creek that flowed from the pond.
Shane saw the problem and said, “There’s a small tree that has fallen
across the creek up there,” and pointed about twenty feet upstream.
The creek was about five feet wide at that point. The tree trunk was
pretty narrow, but they managed to hop across it safely. Once on the
other side, they hopped to the pile of sticks. It was a fine collection.
Apparently, the sticks had floated downstream and had been trapped where
the creek turned. The rabbits dug through the pile and quickly chose all
of the sticks they needed.
However, their bags were heavy now and a little difficult to carry. That
would make recrossing the creek more of a challenge. Rachel went first,
a little wobbly but successful. Rain was next, a little wobbly but
successful. Robbie was last, a little wobbly but,”whoa!” he yelled as he
tumbled in the air off of the tree trunk. Splash! Splash! Gurgle! He
stood up in the cold water totally soaked and covered with some kind of
green weed. Everyone but Robbie thought it was very funny. He also lost
his bag, but it was caught by the stick pile when it floated downstream.
As the bag was still on the wrong side of the creek, he had to go back
and retrieve it. Since he was already in the water, he couldn’t get any
wetter, so he waddled down the creek and picked up his bag. Then, he
waddled back across the creek to where the others were waiting and still
laughing. After crawling up the bank, he shook himself vigorously,
thereby, wetting Rachel and Rain.
“Hey,” they protested.
Now, Robbie got to laugh. Everyone settled down, and his sisters helped
him pick the weeds out of his fur. Shane watched the whole comedy from
the safety of a dry tree. When they were finally ready to go home, they
thanked Shane for his help and followed their own path back the way they
While the children were gathering the sticks, Rhonda was tending the
garden. She had woken early and was enjoying the day. One of the
pleasures of arising early, was watching her bumblebees begin their
daily routine. Of course, they weren’t her bumblebees, but she liked to
think of them that way. A few years ago in March, she built four nests
out of flower pots, hose, and a few other things. She placed one nest at
each corner of the garden and waited. In a few weeks she had bees. She
was surprised at how quickly they arrived and always wondered where they
Were they waiting patiently for her to build the nests?
Bumblebees are sociable creatures, and they quickly formed a mutually
beneficial relationship with Rhonda and her garden. There were about a
hundred bees in each nest, and each morning a squadron of bees could be
seen leaving to begin their day. After a quick flyover each group
settled down in their quarter of the garden. They kept busy with
pollinating and nectar gathering. It also seemed to Rhonda that the bug
population had decreased since the bees moved in. She was very pleased
with the arrangement and, apparently, so were the bees.
As Rhonda moved through the garden, she noticed that several leaves on
her rose bushes looked brownish. The leaves should have been a healthy,
spring green. She picked a leaf and examined it. There was no evidence
of insects; it was simply brown and dry. That was most disturbing. She
reviewed the care she has given the roses. The bushes were three years
old. They were properly spaced and watered as needed. She was diligent
in removing insects such as Japanese beetles, but it was too early in
the season for them. There was no obvious answer.
She decided to send a sample leaf to Bartholomew and ask him if he could
look in his plant books. But, right now, the weeds needed pulling. As
she was removing them from between the rose bushes, she felt like
someone was watching her. She turned to the left, and indeed, there was
a worm staring at her from a small hole in the ground. Only his head was
above the dirt. As soon as she looked at him, he disappeared down his
hole. She laughed and resumed the weed pulling. A minute later, the worm
was back. Again, she turned and again, he hid. Now, she kept her gaze on
the small hole. In another minute his little head appeared for the third
“Caught you,” she laughed, and down he went. Are we playing ‘hide and
seek’, she thought.
“I would love to play ‘hide and seek’ with you Mr. Worm, but I have so
many weeds to pull. Perhaps, we can play later,” she said.
It was good to have worms in your garden because they aerate the soil,
and plants love aerated soil. There were a lot of worms in Rhonda’s
garden. A few minutes later the worm appeared again. This time he
crawled out of his hole and over to a small brown leaf that had fallen
off one of the rose bushes. He pushed the leaf to a nearby pile of
weeds, which Rhonda had made. Then, he turned around and looked at her.
She said, “Well, thank you very much Mr. Worm.”
Then, she thought, worms know a lot about soil and plants. Is this worm
is trying to tell me something? She picked another brown leaf from a
rose bush and placed it at the base of the plant. The worm crawled over
to the leaf and also pushed it to the weed pile.
The worm looked at her again.
“You want me to take all of the brown leaves from the plants?” she
The worm didn’t move.
“Okay, I will.”
It took about fifteen minutes for her to prune the rose bushes of the
brown leaves. The worm stayed until she was finished. Then, he crawled
back into his hole and disappeared. Well, that certainly was
interesting, she thought.
Just then, the children came out of the woods. Rhonda was quite pleased
with the sticks they brought back but did notice that Robbie was wet.
She smiled and said nothing. The creek bath was never mentioned. The
children took the sticks out of their bags and lay them next to the
cottage so that they could dry in the sun. As you can imagine, some
sticks were wetter than others.
The children went inside to have a snack. Their father, Reginald, was in
his clothes shop. The shop was just a room in the cottage with tables,
two sewing machines, and pieces of cloth everywhere. Sometimes, Rachel
and Rain would attach some of the cloths to themselves and run around
the yard pretending to be ghosts.
Reginald, with help from the family, designed and made the clothes for
the residents of Ballymore. Rhonda designed dresses, but there were not
Like most of the other animals, Reginald couldn’t read or write. That
meant he wouldn’t have been able to take measurements or make clothes of
the proper size. Not a minor problem, to say the least. However, it was
solved with the help of Sean Swan and Bartholomew. Sean procured a cloth
measuring tape from somewhere, and Bartholomew taught Reginald how to
use it. Thus Reginald became the Ballymore tailor.
Four times a year, February, May, July, and October he visited each home
and took orders for the upcoming season. He would deliver the clothes
and other fabric-made items in April, July, September, and December.
Right now, he was finishing a seam on a spring jacket for Merwin Mole.
Most of the spring clothes and other items were already made and would
be delivered with Rhonda’s baskets.
The day passed quickly and shortly after dinner, there was a knock on
their door. Reginald answered.
“Why Bartholomew, how nice to see you.”
Bartholomew Owl entered and greeted them all. Rhonda had been expecting
a reply from Bartholomew but wasn’t expecting a visit.
Bartholomew said, “I studied my plant books and have a probable answer
for your rose bush problem. The leaf you sent me looks a lot like a
picture in one book. It says that a fungus is the likely explanation.”
“Does the book say what can be done about it?” asked Rhonda.
“Yes. The brown leaves should be removed as soon as they appear. That
should stop the fungus from spreading, and eventually, the plant will be
“You’re kidding!” exclaimed Rhonda.
“No, I’m not kidding. Why would I be kidding?” asked Bartholomew.
Then, Rhonda told Bartholomew about the worm she met in her garden.
Bartholomew said, ”It sounds like you have a very smart and helpful
“It certainly does,” she laughed.
Bartholomew had to rush off to a meeting he had called regarding the new
boat, so he said goodbye and left.
Rhonda appreciated Bartholomew’s visit and was very pleased with what he
had told her. She thought she should figure out a way to thank the worm.
As it turned out, she never saw that worm again; so she didn’t get the
Over the next week, the rabbits kept busy making the baskets. The sticks
were cut to size and weaved together. It was a slow process but was a
family tradition, and they enjoyed it.