The last of the snow was thawing as the spring sun appeared for longer and longer during the day. The neighborhood children’s snowmen melted and left large puddles on the sidewalks.
The warm rays lured residents out of their homes and into their gardens. As usual, the winter had left piles of old leaves, broken branches, and fallen shrubs strewn across the lawns and flower beds.
In a small house at the end of the street lived an old lady who loved her large garden very much. There were old trees that always bore abundant fruit which she used to make compote and jam so she had a large supply for the winter.
In spring, birds would build their nests in the branches and she would watch from her garden bench as the fledglings made their first attempts to fly. She loved when the bees, hummingbirds and butterflies visited her garden.
She always took great care to arrange the plants so that there were plenty of treats for all the wildlife to choose from at any time of the year.
One particularly beautiful spring day, the old lady looked out of her window and saw her neighbors already hard at work in their gardens. She went outside and walked very slowly to her garden bench, which was under a big old cherry tree.
She looked around and saw the remaining piles of snow in the shady corners of the garden. The bushes behind them were swaying very slightly in the wind and she thought she could hear a soft tinkling sound.
She noticed several colorful spots in the yard. There were yellow and purple crocuses as well as daffodils and tulips beginning to show their delicate tips. These spring heralds didn’t mind the winter.
They could hardly wait to reach out to the sun. Everywhere she looked, the earth was breaking open to reveal the most delicate and beautiful colors of spring.
As the woman rose from the bench to fetch a rake and a spade from the tool shed, she felt a sharp pain in her back.
“Oh dear!” she thought. “How am I going to manage the work this year if I can’t even bend down to the garden beds?”
She sat back down and hoped that she just needed a bit more rest. There was a bustle of activity around her. The children’s voices carried into her yard as they played hide-and-seek in the neighborhood. She was reminded of years past when her garden was also lively. The memories brought a smile to her face.
She was jolted out of her thoughts by a soft buzzing sound. A little bee had joined her on the bench, spreading his wings to warm up in the sun.
“Hello little bee,” she said. “Are you already on the lookout for good foraging spots in the area? I have loved providing you with delicious nectar and welcoming you to my home all these years. But I’m afraid that I won’t be able to manage the work this year!” She continued to tell the little bee about all that was troubling her.
In response, the bee buzzed and briefly fluttered his wings before rising into the air, circling the old lady a few times and flying away.
A few titmice were sitting in the nearby cherry tree and had overheard the whole conversation. As did a mole poking his nose out of a hole in the ground.
All the animals of the garden wanted to help her. She had always provided for them so they wanted to return the favor. The titmice pecked the vermin from the trees so that they could grow undisturbed.
The mole crawled under the garden beds and loosened the soil as best he could. The little bee flew to the garden gnomes to describe the old lady’s plight and ask for their help.
That night, the garden gnomes went to work. In no time at all, the trees were pruned, the hedges were trimmed and the fallen leaves were raked. If you looked closely, you could just make out their little blue pointed hats behind the flowers, darting eagerly back and forth as they worked.
They cleared the garden beds of weeds and replanted them with flowers and shrubs organized to be in bloom in each season.
Then the garden gnomes carefully sprinkled all the plants with the precious water from their secret spring. The garden magically transformed into a beautiful, blooming spring landscape.
The next morning when the old lady looked out the window, she couldn’t believe her eyes. All the work in the garden was done. Even the fence had been given a new coat of paint. She was so grateful for her secret helpers and wondered how she could thank them.
She selected some beautiful gems from her jewelry case and carefully placed them in the newly planted flower beds. She knew the garden gnomes would be pleased to find them.