Like many years before, Spring after Spring, the carefully crafted plot of land came to life, attracting unexpected visitors. This time, after endless trials, the garden had finally come to glimmer with birds and butterflies seldom seen before in the neighbourhood.
“It must be the changing climate," some said, trying to explain the rare occurrences.
Others, mostly conspiracy theorists, argued that it was all part of some secret government experiment. While the born-again elders, feeling they owed people a more godly explanation of the phenomena, stated, "It all was because the end of days was near."
Pete knew, however, that the reason was simpler. What everyone was witnessing was no more, no less, than the result of hard work, and the careful following of his uncle’s secrets about nurturing the precious seeds he had collected long ago on several exotic travels.
So many and so colourful were the flying marvels, and so bright the blossoms exploding everywhere, that soon the insidious rumours got out of control. Neighbours began suggesting that Pete possessed weird and fantastic abilities to make the desert bloom. Quickly, the gossiping grew, and almost all were convinced that he could communicate with insects and animals alike. In spite of everything, the uncontrolled growth of no matter what he planted was truly unusual. Pete acknowledged that much. However, he also knew that nothing would stop the suspicions from running rampant.
-“Ah,” he often said, “… the fear of the unknown. Ignorance always leads to believing in phantoms."
The fact was that, for most of his fellow humans, the lack of a more reasonable rationale for what they saw led them to look for signs of mysterious powers, or for subtle hints that Pete could actually talk to the butterflies or perform unheard-of rituals in his garden in the middle of the night. Which he did, but not in the way all suspected.
Some of the oldest residents, who remembered the now aged black and white movie “The Birds”, were the most suspicious. The film had come to the town’s cinema years ago, and the elders were afraid that Pete would command the bees, the butterflies, the dotted ladybugs and the many singing birds visiting the garden to invade the villagers’ homes.
This, of course, was utter nonsense.
Nevertheless, the rumours grew to be such that he had no option but to ignore the sneak looks by some, and the intrusive, never-ending curiosity of children who tried to catch him by surprise ‘doing magic’ in his backyard. Their nosiness, however, was always short-lived, as Pete would bribe the boys with juicy fruits from his orchard and the girls with pretty flowers.
The truth was that these rumours were all tales coming from a few grannies who, with plenty of time to spare, were jealous of Pete’s accomplishments growing what they had tried to cultivate for decades in the arid land, without success. Their curiosity, though, was partially justified. After all, such a garden’s wonders were rare so near to a dusty and rocky desert that extended for miles all around the small village. Little they all knew, however, what would happen the next Spring.