THE GREAT RED ROSE

December 23, 2016

Once a long time ago this happened. A family of owls gathered in the hollow of a tree to wait out a winter storm. This particular winter storm had been raging for seven years without pause, after having imprisoned spring, summer, and autumn in a copper globe at the bottom of the sea. Although icy winds howled and blustered in fury, the owls remained safely warm in the deep bowl of the hollow. Feathers ruffled. Eyes blinked. Heads twisted all around. A few yawns were observed. Here and there occasionally a wing stretched. When all owls at last settled into a calm sort of stupor, Old Noddy spoke.

“Now, for once and for all and finally, a volunteer is required to fetch the Great Red Rose in order to end the tyranny of winter, to in fact release imprisoned spring, summer, and autumn from the copper globe beneath the sea,” said Old Noddy.

The owls looked one at the other and the other, heads twisting impressively. In time, the gaze of every yellow round unblinking eye locked on Pinch, the smallest of the owls.

“Oh, me? I?” said Pinch. “Well, where is it?”

Each of the other owls pointed a wing up toward the opening to the hollow high above. Pinch shrugged, beaked and clawed her way up, and threw herself into the storm. Battered and blown here to there and around and over, she fluttered fiercely, eyes pinched tight shut as was her custom. Her name WAS Pinch. How long she tipped and flipped and sank and sailed she could not tell, but exhaustion finally stepped forward to take charge, and the young owl was soon senseless and motionless beneath an ever growing mound of snow.

She dreamed of a garden with oceans of yellow roses sparkling with dew. A single red rose trumpeted from its spot near the iron fence surrounding the garden. Pinch, safe in her dream, approached and asked it formally to release spring, summer, and autumn from the copper globe at the bottom of the sea. The rose opened, revealing its resident sprite.

“It is done, brave Pinch,” said the sprite.

When the mound of snow above Pinch melted away in spring, on that very spot sprouted and grew a small rose bush. When its flowers bloomed, they were all yellow save one. That one was red.

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