By Margo Wayman
Kedar, the Nile crocodile, was lazily swimming in the river. It was time for his nap so he was looking up at the reed-lined riverbank, trying to find a spot that looked comfortable. He spotted a patch of bright purple growing among the dull brown reeds. "Hmmmmm, that looks soft and the purple is rather pretty," Kedar mumbled as he climbed out of the water. He waddled up the muddy bank and laid his heavy, scaled body down. The soft, silky, brushy, purple thistle felt so soft under his leathery hide. He just couldnt get comfortable so he rolled over on his side. All of a sudden he screamed out loud, "Ouch!" He parted the thistle with his jaw and saw the hiding prickles. "Thistle?" he called out. "Im out of here," he said, stood up and started walking toward the muddy bank. "Eech, ooch, ouch. Eech, ooch, ouch," he complained as the sharp prickles poked the delicate bottoms of his feet. When he finally reached the mud he breathed a sigh of relief and slipped back into the water. Using his strong tail he swam down the river and out of sight.
Ghaydaa, the gazelle, was prancing through the tall grass, on her way to the river to get a drink of water. She bounced high as she leapt and frolicked along. When she got to the river, she looked nervously about to make sure there were no crocodiles lurking under the water near the shore. After feeling safe and secure, Ghaydaa slurped up enough water to quench her thirst. Feeling sleepy, she looked around for a place to lie down. She spotted a patch of purple thistle and walked over to it. "What beautiful, soft looking, purple flowers," she said. She sprang over to them and began to lie down. Thats when the first prickly thorns poked into her soft hide. "Ouch! This must be thistle!" she called out. "Eech, ooch, ouch! Eech, ooch, ouch!" she cried as she made her way out of the thistle to the muddy riverbank. Ghaydaa decided that she wasnt that tired and ran off towards the woods, passing Talib, the tortoise.
Talib watched as the gazelle zoomed by, then made his way towards the river for a swim. He slid into the cool water and swam around. He dove down to the bottom and ate some moss off a rock and chased a Nile perch through some reeds growing up from the riverbed. When he was finished with his swim, he made his way up through the slimy black mud, looking for a place to lie down and rest. He spotted the purple patch hidden among the thick cluster of reeds. He went over to it. "This purple flower looks like a carpet of soft feathers," Talib smiled. He walked on top of them into the middle. Just as he was getting comfortable, some of the thistles prickly stems and leaves poked his tail, then his four feet, then his face and neck. "Ouch!" he exclaimed. He pulled his feet inside his shell. "Hmm. How am I going to get out of this one?" he wondered.
He had no choice but to walk on the prickly plants. "Eech, ooch, ouch! Eech, ooch, ouch!" he cried out with each delicate step. When he reached the soft, prickle-free dirt, he stood and watched as a beautiful bright yellow butterfly with red spots came fluttering past his nose. It landed on the purple thistle. Talib noticed that Barika didnt seem to be bothered by the prickles. She fluttered from flower to flower, gathering pollen on her legs and proboscis.
Soon Basim, the bumblebee, buzzed by. Talib watched as Basim gathered pollen from the thistle, just like Barika, and he didnt seem to be bothered by the sharp prickles either.
From then on though, Talib, Ghaydaa and Kedar found somewhere else to rest and were always much more careful before they would lay down on patches of pretty purple flowers.