Once upon a beautiful summer time, the Littlest Druid was out on the moor alone. She had been given an assignment by the Chief Druid. She was to sit and watch a wild rose bush. This was about the silliest thing she’d had been made to do yet.
She wondered if she had made so much trouble that she was being punished as far a way from the village as they could send her. She wondered if this was it. It had been hours and she was just supposed to watch this dumb old rose bush. Back in the village, work was going on as usual and she wanted to help. She really did.
It had been a great Beltane yesterday and it was time to clean up. The May pole had to be taken down and it was time for the sheep to be moved to a new pasture up the mountain. It was time to start brewing the summer ale so it would be ready for the harvest festival. The weavers were going to be carding wool so they could start weaving warm winter leggings and tunics. She had grown so much over the winter she was going to need all new clothes. Things were starting to pull and her leggings were way too short.
She looked down at her bare feet and wiggled her toes. Summer was nice. It was a warm day and the sun was shining down brightly for the first time this year. So far she had seen a family of rabbits hopping in and out under the wild rose. It was just starting to bloom and the lovely pink blossoms were nodding on the breeze and she was starting to get a little sleepy.
Suddenly there was a lot of howling and there was a big dog chasing a very small rabbit who was running as fast as it could for the rose. Aisling didn’t know whether to try and stop the dog or save the rabbit. She sat frozen in place but the rabbit dove under the rose and the dog ended up with a snoot full of thorns. Aisling relaxed. Served that old dog right chasing that bunny. Bunny hadn’t been doing anything but playing on the moor. She watched the dog slink off toward the village. She thought he was heading for the healers. That wasn’t going to be fun to have all those thorns removed.
She sat watching bees go in and out of the roses and hoped that they were going to be making lots and lots of honey. Honey meant honey cakes and spread for bread with new butter. It meant that those nasty medicines the healers made would taste better. It meant the Brewer would be happy making mead. Honey just seemed to make things happier even if you had to persuade the bees that it was a good thing to share. She watched them bumble along in their bumbly way. It was fun to watch them.
She sat watching absolutely still when a deer came up and started to munch on the rose blossoms. She wanted to shoo him away. No flowers, no honey but the Chief Druid had said she wasn’t to move and she wasn’t to make a single sound if she could so she sat watching.
The deer suddenly got a mouthful of thorns and reared back and decided the roses were too much trouble and headed off for the stream near by. And still Aisling sat. She couldn’t figure out what she was supposed to see sitting here and she was getting really bored. She was getting really suspicious about why she had been sent out here. They just wanted to do things without her being around. She knew it had to be because she punched one of the older boys who kept pulling her braids yesterday. It had really hurt and she wasn’t sorry she had done it either. He deserved it. Maybe not where she had hit him but it was as high as she could punch and it had been funny to watch him roll around on the ground. She hadn’t hit him that hard.
She watched the little wrens flying in and out of the thicket and wondered where their nests were inside the bush. She bet they were nice and cozy and she could hear the sleepy tweets of baby birds. She wondered if the mama and daddy birds got tired to feeding the hungry baby birds because there were a lot of worms going into that bush.
The sun was starting to set in the west when the Chief Druid came and sat down beside her. She had just gotten the idea for a pretty tune and was humming to herself not nearly as bored as she thought she would be after a day on the moor.
They sat quietly watching the sun set behind the thicket and watching the swallows and the bats come out in the gloaming to hunt their dinners.
The Chief Druid said quietly, “What did you see today?”
“I saw the rabbits that live in the thicket and I watched a big dog try to catch one and he missed and he got thorns up his nose. I saw a deer eating the roses but the thorns made it seem like too much work and he left. I watched the bees getting their pollen for honey and I saw all the birds who make their home in the roses.”
“Why do you think the rose has so many animal friends?” The Druid asked.
Aisling thought for a long while, “Because the rose is a safe place to be?”
“Very good,” said the Chief Druid nodding his head and watching the skies.
“What else? Why do you think it’s a safe place?”
“Because the rose is big and has sharpthorns and can protect itself when it needs to?” She looked up at the Chief Druid.
“How does it protect itself?” asked the Druid.
“By just being what she is?” said Aisling thoughtfully.
“So why are you out here watching a wild rose bush?” He asked looking at her directly for the first time.
Aisling thought for a long while, “I think it was naughty to hit someone where they really hurt and not just try a nicer way to protect myself. That I can be useful and helpful with just by being me and helping with what I’m asked to do.”
“Exactly,” said the Chief Druid, “And that it’s okay to defend yourself without getting to aggressive or mean?” He looked down at her smiling.
“He did look really funny though rolling all over on the ground and howling like that.”
The Chief Druid raised an eyebrow and then started to laugh. “Yes, he did, didn’t he? I think maybe he’ll have second thoughts about bothering you for awhile, especially since he spent the day cleaning the pig pens.”
They both were laughing as they walked back to the village in the gentle twilight.