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Chapter 7 - Beauty pageant of flowers

Chapter 7 - Beauty pageant of flowers



Summer rushed slowly onwards. Wild rosemaries had long since ceased to bloom and made way to other flowers. Mom’s flaming red roses were at their prime and were not at all bothered by greenflies any longer. Blue monkshoods were swaying valiantly high up in the air, and when you saw an array of flowers start bending downwards, you knew that quite many buggies had at the same time wiggled their way into the flowers of the same stem.

In full bloom were also many other flowers of the yard: yellow loosestrifes, white daisies, blue forget-me-nots, cat mints and larkspurs, pink hollyhocks and policeman’s helmets and tricolour violas. Close to the edge of the yard there were cranes-bills in many colours so the display of flowers was really spectacular, and buggies were hectic in their pursuit to collect every drop of nectar from each blooming flower.

Throughout the summer Rachel had taught herself to listen to birds, flowers and buggies. She felt that even the grass was speaking when you walked on it, but its voice was so tiny that it sounded like wind whistling in it. All through summer Rachel had also quizzed Ringel about the life of angels. At times Ringel grew so frustrated at being interrogated that to Rachel’s big disappointment he made himself invisible.

Rachel learned that the flowers of the yard had held a beauty contest every summer and that the Buggie Queen had acted as the esteemed judge. This summer the Buggie Queen wanted, however, Rachel to assume the duty of judge as an indication of her goodwill for Rachel’s earlier act of courage. And today was the Flowers’ Beauty Pageant Day!

Determining the actual day was really tricky. The Flowers’ Beauty Pageant was held on the first sunny day after the first rainy day after full moon. If it did not rain after the full moon, there could be no first sunny day after the rain either, and that summer the contest was withheld. As if this was not enough, there was an additional clause that all the flowers attending the contest would have had enough time to prepare their flowerage. Just last summer the competition was called off because the hollyhocks had not been ready in time since the previous owner of the house had planted them at a new location in the beginning of the summer.

The rules were a lot simpler, however, than determining the day for competition. The judge went through all the flowers, and the flower that most entertained the judge was announced the prettiest flower of the yard! Rachel did not quite comprehend how entertaining and beauty tied together, but it was just one more odd thing in a tall pile of odd things, and not even one of the oddest ones so Rachel let it be.

The grass was still moist after the rain of the previous day, and the raindrops glimmered on branches of trees behind the backyard fence. Flowers had made sure to shake off the raindrops from their flowers well before the contest was to start. Hollyhocks were also ready in time this year.

Rachel had drawn a map of the yard and marked all the flowers that were competing this year, in order not to forget any contestant. Ringel had also promised to point out any possible omissions.

Everything was ready for the competition. The buggies had grouped at the backyard fence to support all flowers into outstanding performances. Rachel took one last look at the map and headed first to the forget-me-nots.

All flowers of forget-me-nots turned towards Rachel and cited a poem:

Oh, forget-me-not

me, beauty-full

me, wonder-full and flower-full

me, worship thou all day and night,


The first three verses the forget-me-nots pronounced eeeveeer sooo slooowlyyy, but the last verse came out as fast as a bullet!

“The end was a little bit different than what the beginning seemed to promise”, contemplated Rachel, “but it was entertaining in any case”, she decided, and drew a beautiful plus sign next to forget-me-nots on the map. The buggies on the fence were waving their wings as a sign for good performance!

Tricolour violas were next. They played cheerleaders:

- Who is the best?, they screamed.


The spectators at the fence went immediately wild! Rachel drew a plus also next to the violas.

It was the daisies’ turn. They bent themselves into a summer wreathe so beautiful that Rachel had to refrain herself from sticking her head underneath it to see how it fitted on her head. A clear plus for the daisies as well!


For some reason, this presentation did not cause riot among the buggies; maybe the former show of violas had sucked them dry of further enthusiasm. Rachel did not stop to think about it further but continued her way to the larkspurs.

The larkspurs were playing a cavalry parade. The set themselves in a line and rode for as long as their stems would allow, at the same time pacing themselves:

- Gallopygallopygallopygallopygallop!

Something so gallantry there was in their parade that Rachel wanted to grant them a plus. The buggies were holding their own parade at the fence. They really seemed to enter into the performances!

The roses were next. They beckoned Rachel to come amidst them and turned their thorns aside not to scratch Rachel. Rachel was standing still inside the rose bed when suddenly all the roses started oozing the most wonderful rose fragrance on her. The scent surrounded Rachel from all directions and it was the most beautiful perfume that she had ever smelled. For a long time after, Rachel’s clothes would smell like roses regardless of the many times they were washed in between. Rachel drew a beautiful, curlicued plus on the map next to the rose bed.

It was time to let the loosestrifes loose. But where were the flowers? Rachel bent down to peep closer. All of a sudden a part of the flowers burst open and formed a small, golden sun. Then more flowers opened up and the sun grew bigger. A slight pause, and the remainder of the flowers started all blooming simultaneously. In just a moment the bush of loosestrife had turned from flowerless foliage into a sparkling, golden sun!

“Oh, how beautiful”, admired Rachel and drew a large plus for loosestrifes on the map.

Catmints, hollyhocks and policeman’s helmets were still left, as well as crane’s-bills next to the backyard fence.

Crane’s-bills were closest so Rachel started towards the fence where the buggies had settled down. Now she could see the reason why. All buggies, except for the Queen and her personal guards, took on a flight, found their own place in front of a crane’s-bill, bowed down deep and started waltzing with the crane’s-bill flowers.

Rachel was already drawing a steady plus for the crane’s-bills when the buggies lost rhythm and they started to bump into each other. In the end, only one buggy and crane’s-bill pair was up and dancing, and they were hoorayed for long and enthusiastically! Even the Queen waved her golden crown wings (or rather, two buggie guards flapped them for her). Rachel could not help giggling, and the contest continued.

Catmints imitated kittens. They meowed with a tiny voice and waved their flower stems like cat tails. The performance was so authentic that even the neighbour’s tomcat stopped its dignified stroll, growled, and put its tail up in the air! A definite plus!

Hollyhocks had invested in dignity. They slowly swayed their bells and rhythmically repeated: Ponggg, ponggg, ponggg… The performance was so solemn that even the buggies became silent (for the first time in a long, long time; they had gone simply crazy about the waltz). That alone would have secured the hollyhocks a plus, even though their show was well worth it.


The only contestant left was the policeman’s helmet; then Rachel would have covered all participants. Rachel approached the flowers with Ringel, but had to quickly throw herself flat on the ground! All the policeman’s helmets had saved up their seeds until this moment, and they all banged their seed capsules open at the same time!

The seeds flew like ammunition towards Rachel and Ringel! Although it was impossible to hit Ringel (you could walk right through him, you know – just like Mom and Dad sometimes did), he also took cover in front of the firing.

This obviously pleased the buggies! They zoomed all around the yard imitating the seed bullets so that Rachel decided to prolong her laying on the ground a bit more, just in case.

This also deserved a plus. Rachel had been much entertained by the scene that Ringel, who was always so calm and composed, had been caught by surprise and flown for cover in front of the attack! That definitely had to be rewarded!

All contestants had now given their performances and Rachel had a problem. She had drawn a plus next to every flower. Some were bigger than others, and next to roses she had drawn a very artistic plus sign, but a plus was a plus!

Rachel wondered what to do. All flowers had entertained her, and no performance was worse than another, all performances were just different. There was no way you could compare them with each other. And Rachel remembered something else during the competition. The grasses, white clovers, ground ivies and plantains had all focused their attention to the competition and let out joyful cries of “yippee” during the whole procession. They had thought to be too ugly to take part in the competition but regardless of that had candidly supported all contestants fairly and excitedly.

Everybody was anxious to hear the announcement of the winner. Even the buggies on the fence kept totally silent, and the wind had settled in the tops of the trees behind the fence.

- Kr-hmm, cleared Rachel to start the announcement, like she had seen grownups do.

- I hereby declare all the contestants winners of this summer’s beauty pageant!

- OOOH!, sounded everywhere.

- I also declare all the other plants of the yard winners because they so fairly encouraged all contestants and entertained the judge by shouting “yippee” between performances!

- OOOOH!, was heard again, louder.

- And I also declare the buggies the winners because they took in part of one winner’s show and entertained the judge by their own performances!

- OOOOOH!, echoed at the whole yard and in the forest behind the fence. The wind got so excited that the tops of the trees soughed.

This had never happened before and no one really knew how to react to the announcement! Then the Buggie Queen started waving her golden crown wings as a sign of a good declaration (or rather, two buggie guards flapped them for her!), the triumphant buggies started a victory dance with all flowers of the yard, and flowers started waving their flower stems in joy! Every flower of the yard had won, and every flower was sincerely happy and proud of their success.


The grasses, white clovers, ground ivies and plantains were especially happy because they were declared the most beautiful flowers of the yard although none of them had ever thought of being anything special. The white glovers got so excited of their victory that they went totally wild and danced with the buggies until the sun went down, and that took a long time!

For many days after the competition the flowers displayed their winning shows to one another and to the buggies, except the policeman’s helmet who could only bang a couple of remaining seeds at the time in the air.

For many evenings when going to bed Mom and Dad talked about funny things that they had observed while staying at the yard, watering flowers.

Mom thought that she had seen a garland of daisies among the flowers, and Dad swore that the policeman’s helmet was trying to shoot him with its seeds. And every time something funny happened, it looked as if the buggies had deliberately positioned themselves close by to observe the situation!



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