Squash Blossom was a Vegetable Fairy, but she sprinkled her fairy dust on the vegetables resentfully, looking longingly at the flower beds blooming with petunias, coreopsis and dusty miller. She longed for the color and brightness.
The flower she liked best was the rose bush, it had such amazing flowers. She knew the flower fairies made tea with the rose hips, the green nub left after a rose bloom had faded. Squash Blossom loved tea.
“The flower fairies have the best jobs,” she thought to herself. She thought spending all her time in the flower beds would be the best job ever!
Corn Silk, her mother, looked at her with sadness in her heart. Squish-Squash was never happy tending the vegetable beds. She did not push her too hard, but her daughter’s unhappiness made her heart ache.
Squash Blossom skimped on the zucchini, and some of them looked disastrous. The vegetables were never in focus, and she was always looking past them at the flower beds.
“Squish, come and turn somersaults in the kale,” Corn Silk suggested, drifting down from the high corn on the back of a silkmoth. She bounced on a wide, curly kale leaf, and wiggled her eyebrows at Squash Blossom.
“Mother, I don’t want to be called Squish anymore. And not Squish-Squash either! My name is Squash Blossom, so let’s use it, shall we? I’m too old for those childish games.” Squash Blossom shook the last of her fairy dust out on the pumpkin hiding under the rhododendron. The lucky gourd would surge bigger than a toddler’s tricycle in another night. Squash settled down on a chard leaf near her mother, watching her mother act like a fae-child with a vague sense of embarrassment.
“Are you excited to start your last year of fairy high?” Corn Silk asked, casting around for something to cheer up her daughter.
“Oh, Mother, do I really need to go back? The last year all we learn about is harvest moon magic and fall finale fairyfancy. You already taught me those, and I’ve been renewing my magic that way for years.”
“I don’t think you should miss your senior year, Squash. You’ll be celebrating midwinter with all your friends at the midwinter ball, learning new fairy glamours, practicing harmony magic. All sorts of things, not just magic renewal. I haven’t been to school in years, perhaps you will be able to teach me a few things.” Corn Silk’s golden eyes glimmered with glee as she bounced from kale leaf to kale leaf. Finally she bounced across onto the red chard leaf where Squash Blossom was sitting, bouncing her daughter high into the air. Squash Blossom was so startled that she started laughing like a fae-child, right up until she glanced off a nearby slug and got slimed. Then her wings took her buzzing in an angry circle around her mother.
“Honestly, Mother, are you never serious? Look at my hair, I have slime in it!”
Corn Silk’s spirits had risen when her daughter had laughed, but she could see that Squash Blossom was not interested in being light-hearted right now.
“Sorry Mr. Millpondis,” Corn Silk called to the slug while she watched her daughter fly off to the birdbath. She heaved a deep sigh.
“Don’t worry, Silky,” Mr. Millpondis swiveled his head toward her. “I’m fine, and Squish will be, too.”
“I hope you’re right,” Corn Silk called. She continued to the back corner of the vegetable plot, where Squash Blossom never seemed to have time to go.
At the birdbath, Squash Blossom dove in angrily, and splashed all the slime out of the hair.
“Whoa! Are you angry at the world or is it me?” A voice spoke from under a floating flower petal, where a tidal splash had carried it.
“I’m sorry, I’m mad because my mother bounced me into a slug and I got slime in my hair.”
“Well, it’s all gone now.” The fae wore dark green. “I’m Spike, what your name?”
“Squash Blossom.” Squash waited a beat to see if he would make fun of her name.
“That’s pretty. I’ve always thought Vegetable Fairies have the coolest jobs.”
“What?!” Squash Blossom could not believe her ears.
“Sure, you should try being a pine fairy, it’s all pine nuts and resin. Have you ever tried to get pine resin out of your hair?” He pointed to his head, where sure enough, all his amber hair was standing straight up. “Impossible,” he sighed. “That’s why they call me Spike.”
“I think your hair looks cool spiked up.” Squash Blossom said shyly. “I’ve always thought the flower fairies had the best jobs.”
“Nah, sure the flowers are pretty, but veggies flower, too, and then they grow vegetables.” Spike said, gesturing toward the vegetable patch. “You feed people. How cool is that? Besides, some of the brightest and most amazing colors in the garden are in the vegetables garden.”
“No, the roses are the most amazing. Then they turn into rose hips and that makes great tea. Plus the apple trees bloom and then grow fruit.”
“Come look from my point of view, and you’ll see,” Spike said. Together they flew up to the high branch of a pine tree, where Spike lived with his family in a hollow. “Now look down,” Spike pointed.
From up high, Squash Blossom could see the bright yellow squashes that grew from the large, droopy yellow flowers. The tomatoes and peppers were all shades of green, yellow, orange and red. The tomatoes on one plant even had zebra stripes of red and orange. The herbs were tall and proud. In the back corner, was an amazing purple color. Why had she never seen that purple before? Then she looked out over the flower beds, and she could see that Spike was right. The colors were pretty, but much more washed out than the vegetables.
“You’re right, I can see that the vegetables look great from here. What is that purple?” Squash Blossom pointed at the back corner, but Spike just shrugged.
“Don’t know. I would’ve thought you’d know. Hey, don’t step in the…” It was too late, Squash had stepped in a gooey mess.
“Pine Resin?” She asked ruefully.
Spike nodded. “Sorry, pine fairy job hazard.” Squash Blossom pulled the glob off her foot and used it to spike her hair up in purple and gold spikes.
“Wow, you would be an awesome pine fairy,” Spike said admiringly. “Hey, will you be at fairy high?”
“Yes, I’m a senior this year,” Squash Blossom responded, all thoughts of not going back disappearing.
“Great! Me, too! We should have fairyfancy together. That’s the first class where the pine, vegetable and flower fairies are in the same class. I’ll see you there!” Spike zoomed off to check on the baby pine cones.
Squash Blossom floated down to the rose bush, where she had gazed all summer long at the big beautiful blooms. She found a small fae-child surrounded by aphids.
“Please, go away! I can’t let you eat this bud, we need the roses to bloom. MOM!!” No one flew to the small fae-child’s aid.
One of the aphids waved its antennae and moved toward the fae child, who was blocking the way to a small bud. Squash Blossom zoomed toward the fae-child, scattering the aphids.
“Beat it, punks, or I’ll sic the slugs on you!” Squash Blossom said menacingly to the aphids, who quickly departed, grumbling.
“Oh, you vegetable fairies are the best! I wish I could be as tough as you,” The fae-child called. “I’m Ruby Red,” The small fairy said, in a high, sweet voice.
“I’m Squash Blossom. I had no idea it could be so scary to be a flower fairy!” Squash Blossom exclaimed. “You must be very brave facing down a whole gang of aphids all by yourself.”
“My mom took our supply of rose hips to my sick aunt. We really need more blooms to replenish our supply before winter. I didn’t want those aphids to know my mother was gone, though!” Ruby Red said, shuddering. Squash Blossom stayed to help Ruby Red until her mother returned, then she flew home, thinking about her vegetables.
“What was making that purple color in the back corner?” Squash Blossom thought to herself. She renewed her magic at twilight, dancing with the fireflies in the gloaming. She settled down to sleep under a toad stool still wondering. At dawn, she went and shook her mother awake.
“Wasssit… Is the garden on fire?” Her mother said blearily.
“No, Mom, did you know that aphids are scary?”
“Yes, they can be,” her mother said, bemused. “What happened to your hair?”
“What’s in the back section of the garden?”
“Did you just call me Mom? I like that better than Mother!”
“Mom, focus! What’s in the back corner of the vegetable patch? I thought we only grew vegetables.”
Corn Silk rubbed her eyes. “Honey, it’s too early in the morning for an interrogation. Go see for yourself.”
Squash Blossom huffed, and flew over to the back corner. She was amazed at what she saw. Just then she heard a door slam. Bethany and her son, Frank, were coming out of the house. All the fairies at the bottom of the garden looked out for them. She changed quickly into her white butterfly form as a wagon trundled over the rocks toward her.
“Oh, look at the eggplant, Mom!” Frank’s young voice giggled. He was pulling the wagon.
“They are ready to pick, thank goodness. Farmer Ferryweight said he would give us a good price for eggplant and peppers. We can trade for sausages and flour,” Bethany’s older voice said. She and the boy filled the wagon to bursting with four varieties of eggplant and brilliant bell peppers. They gleamed in the morning sunshine like jewels.
“Look at those beautiful tomatoes! Let’s have one for breakfast.”
“I’m awfully hungry, Mom,” the young boy said, mournfully patting his tummy. Squash Blossom flickered into fae-form, tossed an acorn at the rhododendron bush, where it bounced loudly off the huge pumpkin, then she flashed back into her white butterfly form.
Frank was bending down to pull off a red tomato, and he turned when he heard the acorn bounce. He spied the enormous pumpkin under the rhododendron. “Mom, look at the size of that!” he exclaimed. Bethany parted the leaves.
“Oh, that one might win the prize at the fair. Then we’d have money to buy new shoes for you! Let’s have some fruit soup to celebrate.” His mother said, just as excited as he was. Squash Blossom noticed his shoes were taped with thick, gray tape. Bethany whisked together some orange juice, yogurt and cinnamon and poured it over blueberries.
The young boy and his mother breakfasted on the cold berry soup and a tomato. They were still chewing as they walked toward the market, pulling the wagon. Squash Blossom flickered back into her fae-form and nibbled an echinacea seed. Her mother came and settled onto a chard leaf next to her.
“Do you like the eggplant, Squish-Squash?” Corn Silk asked.
“They are the most beautiful things I have ever seen.” Squash Blossom said slowly, not even noticing her mother’s use of her old nickname. Why did I never see them before?” Corn Silk handed her some honey on a rose leaf. The bee fairies made the best honey in all the land.
“You never seemed to like tending vegetables, and I would let you go play early. I don’t like seeing you so unhappy.”
“Oh, mom, I am not unhappy. We have the best job in the whole world!” Squash Blossom gave her mother a big hug.
Recipe for Cold Berry Soup
2 cups orange juice
1 cup greek yogurt
Cinnamon (can add nutmeg, too)
1 cup of any combination of berries, de-stemmed and hulled –
Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, or blackberries
Half a teaspoon honey optional (kids like it sweeter)
Fresh spearmint leaves
In a medium bowl, whisk together orange juice, yogurt and cinnamon until thoroughly mixed and frothy. Pour it over the berries. Serve cold. Garnish with fresh spearmint leaves.
Copyright 2013 Brenda Davis Harsham