The apprentice - Part 2

Din Din walked with a spring in his step — something difficult to imagine a brontosaurus doing. It was dawn break, yet, he was as fresh as a daisy even though he had never been known to enjoy his mornings.

Not one of the most optimistic creatures in the world, yet, today, he couldn’t stop grinning. It was his second day at Flame the flamingo’s nursery, located in the forest near the beach and he couldn’t wait to get there. He was looking forward to learning new things about horticulture but most of all he wished to be hand-picked as Flame’s apprentice.

“Hello, Din Din,” greeted Dazel the duck, his best friend. Both the friends were looking forward to their day at the nursery. They were part of the group of twelve garden enthusiasts who had joined the two-week workshop on horticulture. Flame had revealed that he would choose his apprentice from the dozen participants.

When they entered Flame’s exotic garden, they couldn’t help but marvel at how the bird had transformed it into an exquisite paradise.

“Good morning!” Flame said in his soothing voice. “Yesterday, I briefed you about what horticulture is and I gave you a tour of my nursery. Today I have allotted different areas of the garden to each of you. I wish to observe how you will tend to that particular patch.”

To Din Din’s delight, he was given the area where exotic flowers grew. Din Din’s own garden boasted a variety of flowers and he was confident he could do a satisfactory job. He began with pruning the buds and pulling out weeds. The bright African Violets and the orange orchids danced in the soft breeze in unison and Din Din wondered if he had ever been more at peace.

So absorbed was he that he didn’t even notice Flame walk up to him on his tall, elegant legs. “Hello, Din Din!” said Flame with a soft smile. “I was watching how gently you handle these delicate flowers. I’m sure it is not easy to do as you are a big and tough creature,” remarked Flame.

Din Din blushed. “I guess one doesn’t expect a dinosaur to be a gardener or lover of flowers?”

“I admit, it was a misconception but you have proved me wrong,” agreed Flame.

Din Din grinned in pleasure. Flame pointed to a strange looking plant and asked, “Do you know what this is?”

It was a plant with downy red flower spikes. Din Din had never seen it before.

“This is Acalypha repens also called red-hot cat’s-tail. One must be careful as its sap is slightly poisonous and irritates the skin,” explained the flamingo. The discussion about the array of flowers continued and then Flame moved onto Burrow the rabbit’s vegetable patch.

It was a day filled with excitement, information and learning. Din Din received praise at the end of the day about the way he had tended the flowers. Dazel was disappointed as the topiary she had been given was cumbersome to handle.

“Whew, what a day!” the duck squawked as they walked away from Flame’s nursery that evening. “Sculpting a bush is so difficult. And handling the shears is a challenge!”

“I had a wonderful time,” exclaimed Din Din. He was tired but content. “Dazel, there is nothing in the world I want to do than be Flame’s assistant,” revealed the dinosaur.

“Even if you are chosen as Flame’s apprentice will you be able to give up school, Din Din,” Dazel pointed out.

“I don’t know what my parents will say but if I am chosen to be Flame’s apprentice, it would be a dream come true,” Din Din continued.

The rest of the week was one of the best of Din Din’s life. He learnt about floriculture which included production of floral crops.

At home over dinner he explained passionately, “Do you know, landscape horticulture includes the production, marketing and maintenance of landscape plants. And tomorrow we are going to learn about olericulture which is the production of vegetables.”

Time flew and soon, the two-week workshop approached its end. “Tomorrow, Flame will announce his apprentice,” Din Din said to Dazel in excitement. He was hopeful that he might be chosen. Even though Burrow, the rabbit, was the most experienced gardener in the workshop he was old and Din Din was hoping to be chosen. The other participants included Dell, the beaver who was mischievous and thus, careless. Oti the ostrich and Davy the dove were calm and slow in their tasks. Sandra the stork, the librarian at Terrestrial school got tired quite easily. Snell the snail was sluggish; Chipper the chipmunk was too hasty, a peacock named Pip was too much of a recluse and the two monkeys who were sisters were always arguing.

The next evening at the end of a long and sweaty gardening day, Flame sat on one of the rocks near the waterfall in his garden. “It has been a wonderful experience to have you all be a part of my nursery,” he began with a smile. “I have learnt a lot in these few days and I hope it has been an enlightening experience for each of you.”

Everyone nodded, waiting expectantly. “Even though each one of you have skills which would make you an ideal apprentice, I would like to extend this offer to Burrow the rabbit,” Flame said coming right to the point.

There was a spattering of applause as the other creatures surrounded Burrow to congratulate him. Din Din’s heart sank. He was so sure Flame would choose him. Even though he knew it would look churlish, Din Din began to walk away. Flame called after him.

“Din Din,” the flamingo said. When he caught up with Din Din he continued. “You are a very talented gardener. I admire the way you handle plants. But you are still young and you have a lot to learn. Once you are older you will be able to create a garden as beautiful as this one,” Flame said.

Din Din bowed his head. “I guess you are right. But I am disappointed. I felt so much at home in your nursery.”

“I am glad to hear that. Please, visit my garden whenever you wish to. My doors are open!” Flame said with a gesture of his bright pink wing.

That night Din Din fell asleep in his cave home, sad that he would not be experiencing the pleasure of being in Flame’s garden. “But the experience was a priceless one; one I wouldn’t trade for anything!” he thought to himself in gratitude. “I can’t wait to apply all I have learnt in my own garden,” he murmured sleepily as he drifted off into slumber.

The Adventures of D'Land
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