nce upon a time, in a garden somewhere between here and there, peony blossoms remained tightly wrapped in anticipation of their debut at the grand ball. Even the servant ants worked tirelessly and feverishly to ensure that each fold, each petal, was proper and elegant.
At last, the magic day arrived. A buzz buzzier than the buzz of bees arose in the front garden bed and the air was perfumed with the intoxicatingly sweet scent of miniature lilacs.
The peony buds unfurled in a silent explosion of color — and all creatures and passersby paused for a glimpse of the swirl of finely ruffled crinoline petals.
And as the peonies bounced and nodded in the late spring breeze, the rhododendrons, the grand dames of the garden, fanned themselves with their stamen lashes and passed whispered judgments to one another.
“Scandalous,” they gossiped about the peony dressed all in white, save for a hint of a magenta flame at the tip of one of her petals.
“Indecent,” they agreed when looking at the harlot in red, shamelessly displaying her ring of fire for the world to see.
“Oh, so lovely,” they said of the one in pink and cream pastels, their sighs hinting at a time not so long ago when all creatures and passersby paused to notice them. This magical moment, they remembered, was for the young and fanciful and they should have their season in the sun. After all, one heavy rain could wash it all away.
At that moment, the sky above exploded and peonies and rhododendrons, ants and bees looked upward — only to see a sparkling shower of climbing hydrangea starbursts.
And the garden lived happily ever after.