Fug told Bopper there were lots of fresh tender dandelions on the front side of the house. Bopper carefully made his way across the corral then scampered around the house. Hawkeye Hawk had been fluttering around overhead all day. Bopper had experienced one bout with Hawkeye and wanted no more.
Bopper cut under the Juniper bush and came out at the corner. “Hi there little mouse, you seem to be in a big hurry,” a soft smooth voice did say to him.
Bopper looked all around. Seeing nothing he was familiar with, and seeing no other critters about, he laughed. He remembered grandma mouse telling how grandpa mouse always talked to roots, rocks, and other things.
He heard the voice again. "Hi there little mouse. I am Rose, an American Beauty. I am a rose, a pretty rose."
Bopper stopped, shook his head, and looked up at this tall green bush with thorns its branches, a bush not large enough or tall enough to be a tree. It was a deep green bush with one main stem and other stubby ones, and near the top was a giant red rose in full bloom.
"Roses cannot talk," Bopper said, and he could not believe his ears. A talking Rose?
"You are talking little mouse, so why should not I?"
“For I am a mouse and mice make noises, and some of us do manage to communicate,” he replied. The response did throw him, but neither grandma mouse, nor his momma, nor the mouse schoolteacher had ever said anything about plants talking or making noises so a mouse like Bopper could understand.
“I am a rose, a beautiful American Beauty Rose; just call me Rose little mouse. Do you have a name?”
Bopper was watching the large Red rose and sure enough, the voice was coming from it. “I am Bopper mouse, Bopper barn mouse. I live in the man’s big shed. Well, beneath the shed with my momma and brothers and sisters.” One thing about Bopper mouse was that when you ask him a question he would tell you the history of mice.
“Well, Hi there Bopper mouse. And what brings you around to the front of the house this lovely morning?”
Bopper liked this new friend, this rose, this American Beauty Rose. “Fug, er, ah, Fug is my buddy. Fug said there were lots of tender young dandelions around here and I am hungry for a mess of fresh dandelions.” Bopper stopped and a funny look came to his mousey face. He looked up. “Do dandelions talk?”
“Oh no, they are a sub-species and are not developed enough. They do not have enough poise and character to talk.” The large red rose was swaying in a light breeze that was blowing across the yard.
Bopper looked at the rose. “May I ask you a question?”
“Sure Bopper, fire away. I will try to give you a straight and honest answer.”
“Flowers and blooms do not last long. They pop up, the buds turn to blooms, then they die. Some plants grow new flowers, one after another, and some have hundreds of small flowers at once.”
The Rose looked down at her tiny new friend wondering.
Bopper continued. “So when your flower dies, do you die? The bush does not die, so what happens?”
The Rose thought that was a good question, a really good question. “hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.” The rose’s large flower sort of bent over as if bowing.
Bopper waited and waited, and was ready to start eating when he heard, “Oh yes, oh yes.”
Bopper looked up at his new friend. "Well Miz Rose, well?”
“It is like this Bopper, my little friend. In the animal world and the animate world, when the body dies it is gone. but the soul continues to live.”
“Huh?” Bopper said, and he waited for her to say more.
“I am the mother, the soul of this lovely large American Beauty Rose bush. I am the queen. I bud and then I burst forth as the large red rose. My spirit does not live and thrive in my bloom, but within the whole bush. If this bush has two, five, ten, maybe even twenty blooms, each in a way is a part of me. But always, I am the large bloom and the others are like my children, my off springs.” Rose looked down at her new small rodent friend and could see he was rather bumfuzzled. “When someone takes a clipping from my bush it as if one of my children were taken away.”
“You are one complicated thing Miz Rose, complicated for my small mouse brain.” But the look on the Rose’s flower, yes, the flower had now taken a facial look, not just a rose bloom but a rose face that Bopper could see.
Rose thought a moment then gave a new approach. “Bopper when you were born you were really part of your mother, for she bore you and you came from her flesh and blood. The clippings are just like that except we are not individuals. Just ask Mrs. Potato, or Mrs. Apple tree.”
Bopper’s face lit up. “Oh yes Miz Rose, I do understand now, and it makes sense to me. But now when I eat a root, a good skunk cabbage root, or a fresh tender young dandelion I will wonder if they felt it, if they were alive or what?”
“Bopper, my little friend, I hope I did not confuse you or make you feel bad.” She saw Boppers smile and knew it was OK. “You come back next week and you can chat with my off springs, for if you look you can see I have lots of buds.” Then Rose added, “There is only one spirit of a rose bush and all of its off springs do die and are gone unless there is a clipping taken. Then we grow and multiply.”
“Thank you Miz Rose. Thanks and you have a nice day, for I am going to eat some blooms then go home and talk to Albert mouse. Maybe he can explain things to me so that I can more easily understand.”
“Come see me again Bopper, come see me again,” Rose said.
Bopper started to scamper off, but he stopped and looked up at his new Rose friend. “But why do you have all of those thorns?”
Rose smiled. “That is a long story my little friend and one day if you wish, I will tell you how many thousand years ago we developed these thorns as a means of protection.”
They waved goodbye and Bopper was gone, his head still roiling with questions...unanswered questions.
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