Long ago and today and beyond, there was and is and will be a Caretaker who is forever busy making and tending new ideas. But the ideas he loves best are the ones he plants in the minds of children.
“I will never be brave enough to be a Ranger,” said Hero one day as he watched Caretaker creating flowers in the middle of Wildflower Woods. The boy sat with his hand covering his scar. People in Great Park never called him names, but the boy was sure he caught them looking at him. He thought they probably talked about him when he wasn’t near.
“A new idea,” said Caretaker. “Let’s try this one and see how it looks. Ta-doo!” The old man motioned with his hands in front of his face. A bright yellow blossom exploded from the end of a stem.
“Ta-daa . . .” said Caretaker again. The flower changed. This time it had an orange center and its petals were flat and rounded, not spiky. “No, no, no. Not right. Not right.” Caretaker shook his head. “Let me see. . . .” He thought awhile, his chin in his hand.
The old man suddenly looked up, a bright light in his gray eyes. “Aha! I know!” He lifted his arms. “Ta-dee!” The flower trembled, then its petals turned spiky on the inside with a rim of smooth, cupped petals on the outside. “Ah-hah!” chortled Caretaker. “Perfect. Perfect. Just right. Absolutely beautiful. Now watch, boy. Watch me!”
The old man stood on his tiptoes. His elbows were bent and held upright; then he began to wave his arms. The knives and shears and trowels in his vest began to jingle and chime. “Ta-dee! Ta-dee! Ta-dee!” More blossoms exploded.
Caretaker waved his arms some more. He pointed. “Ta-dee!” Petals and stem. A flash of yellow. “Ta-dee!” The floor of the woods became carpeted with lush, butter yellow blooms, all delicate orange at their centers.
Caretaker twirled around. “Oh, they’re beau-ti-ful!” He sat down. “Beauti-ful!” He held his middle and laughed for the joy of creation. [Click the LISTEN button to hear A Hero’s Quest.]