Early one fall when the leaves were ablaze with shades of red and orange, a young girl went for a walk through the meadow near her house. Out in the meadow she discovered that her favorite flowers had stopped blooming and had completely dried up. As she looked closer, she could see that there were tiny seeds being formed inside the brown flower heads. She was very curious about this. She hadn’t really thought about where flowers came from or how they grew again year after year, but she knew it had something to do with the seeds. The little girl plucked one of the dried flowers and gently rolled it between her hands. Small black seeds spilled out from the dried flower head while a gust of wind tossed the chaff into the air.
“Seeds from my favorite flower!” she exclaimed. “Since these ones have dried up and died, I’ll go and plant some more.”
She walked over to a bare patch of dirt, poked a few small holes in the soil, and dropped a few black seeds into them. She covered the holes with dirt and then sat and watched. She watched and waited but nothing happened. No new flowers.
This made her feel sad and reminiscent. She loved the way the puffy blooms grew tall over her head in vibrant colors of orange, purple, and yellow. Occasionally, when in full bloom, she would pick a whole stalk out of the ground carry it around over her shoulder. The younger boys and girls would get a kick out of the dangling, puffy, flower head hanging from the stalk. They would squeal with delight as she danced around them.
She figured the problem must be with the dirt. She remembered hearing someone talk about how good quality soil grew good quality plants. Perhaps she had just planted the seeds in a poor patch of dirt. She walked back to the dried flowers and rolled another flower head between her hands. Dozens of small black seeds came tumbling out into her harvesting basket. She did this flower after flower until her harvesting basket was completely full.
“Wow, this is heavy!” she said as she picked up her basket with a grunt.
She stopped just a few feet away and planted some seeds in the dirt. She watched carefully but, again, nothing happened.
“Must be more bad dirt,” she said as she dragged her basket to another spot where she planted a few more seeds.
She continued on like this for the whole entire day, all across the meadow, until finally the sun started to set and the sky became dark. By the time she returned home, her basket was completely empty. She set her basket on a table inside the house and walked into the kitchen with her head hanging low.
“What’s wrong dear?” asked the young girl’s mother with concern.
“I spent the entire day planting seeds from my favorite flower, but none of them grew!” replied the little girl with a disappointed pout.
Her mother smiled compassionately.
“I didn’t know you knew how to get the seeds from the flowers. That must have been interesting to discover,” said her mother trying to cheer the girl up.
“Yeah, it was pretty neat. I rolled the flower heads in my hands and all the seeds came spilling out, but all the soil must be bad in the meadow because none of the flowers grew!” she said exasperated.
“Well, these things take time. Seeds don’t just pop up out of the ground as soon as you plant them,” said her mother kindly.
“But I watched and waited for a whole 5-minutes!”
Her mother smiled. She understood that 5-minutes could feel like a very long time to a little girl.
Later that night, as the little girl laid in bed, she dreamed about her favorite flowers. She dreamed about harvesting armloads of them, tossing the puffy heads around with her friends, and decorating her house with them. When she woke up in the morning she knew she had to try again. She tried again and again for the entire week. Every day she would fill her basket with seeds and plant them all over the meadow in any bare spot of dire she could find. Then, she would sit and wait. If no flowers grew, she would move along to a new spot and try again in hopes that she would finally find just the right patch of dirt that would make the flowers grow. By the end of the week, she decided that there was just no dirt in the meadow suitable for growing her special flowers and she moved on to other games and activities to occupy the rest of the fall season.
The winter was mild but she spent most of her time sitting in front of the wood stove drawing and reading books. In fact, she was so enthralled with different art projects and books she hardly even realized that spring had come. Late one afternoon, as she was putting on her rain books to explore the muddy spring world for the first time, she heard a loud series of knocks on the front door. It was a group of her friends. They were all muddy, buzzing with excitement, and eager to show her something but she didn’t quite understand what because they were all talking at once.
As they walked out of the house and into the nearby meadow, the little girl gasped and stopped in her tracks. Nearly the entire field was shimmering in vibrant colors of orange, purple, and yellow. The giant, puffy flowers were gently swaying in the wind as if waving hello to all the amazed children.
“How did all these flowers spread throughout the meadow?” shouted one of the friends in amazement.
“It is miraculous!” shouted another.
“No one knows how this happened!” cried another friend.
“Isn’t it amazing?” they kept declaring to one another.
The little girl smiled shyly. She knew exactly what had happened, but she could hardly believe it. She turned, and ran back home. Her mother was about to scold her for trumping through the house with her muddy boots when she noticed the tears in her eyes.
“What happened little one?” she asked in concern.
“All my flowers bloomed! And it is so beautiful,” she said tearfully.
“I heard! Everyone is talking about it. But why are you crying my love?” asked her mother.
“I don’t really know!” said the little girl with a smile as she wiped the tears back.“I guess I feel so happy; and I guess I feel a little sad. I was so frustrated last fall that none of my seeds were growing. I felt like I wasn’t doing it right and I told myself that never wanted to plant seeds again. It seemed like it was all a waste.”
“Oh honey, I didn’t know you felt that way. I wish you would have told me,” replied the girl’s mother.
Both mother and daughter walked back outside together. They could see that the meadow was full of children who were laughing and playing among the large colorful blooms. They were tossing the puffy flowers back and forth to one another, carrying the stalks around over their shoulders, and stuffing their noses into the petals to smell the fresh sweetness of the flowers.
The little girl’s tears dried and she began to smile as she looked out over the beautiful field. Her mother placed her hands tenderly on the little girl’s shoulders and hugged her close.
“Sometimes you don’t know what impact you are going to have on the world until long after you plant your seeds,” said her mother thoughtfully.
Her mother paused for a moment and then asked,“You know what I see when I look out into that meadow?”
“I just see lots and lots of flowers. What is it that you see mother?” the little girl asked curiously.
Leaning in more closely the mother quietly said, “I see what the world looks like when someone full of hope, determination, and wonder passes through it.”