• Published 17th Mar 2019
  • 1,549 Views, 457 Comments

Gardening with Rose - Admiral Biscuit



A class presentation and a new day job gave me plenty of time to think about how I might fit into Ponyville society.

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Class Presentation

Gardening with Rose
Class Presentation
Admiral Biscuit

I’d put it off as long as I could, in order to give me time to come up with a suitable topic, and then to reconsider my choice. Time to stress out about presenting anything to a class of schoolchildren, before remembering that when I was in school, any presentation was a welcome break from the normal educational process, regardless of the actual topic.

Once I’d started making flash cards and outlines, I felt like I was back in school again. I didn’t really want to do it, but Rose had helped, even if she hadn’t realized. Sometimes when she came over, I’d try out a few topics and see how she reacted, and then I’d revise it to answer some of the questions she’d had.

I probably wouldn’t really need my notes, but I put them in the pocket in my shorts anyway.

•••

As I walked to the school, I kept doubting myself, kept thinking of ways that I would mess this up even though I was sure I wouldn’t. Heck, even if I made a mistake, it wasn’t like anyone could call me out on it. None of them knew anything about Canada. I could have said that we all rode mooses everywhere and they would have believed it. Not that I wanted to make things up. Lying to kids was bad.

And in truth, most of the foals that I knew liked me—they didn’t shy away or shun me. Sure, there would probably be one stuck-up parent who’d complain to the PTA or superintendant or whatever it was that the ponies had, claim that it was inappropriate for me to give a presentation, and such a complaint would be ignored.

The more I thought about it, the more I believed that Cheerilee was the entirety of the Ponyville School District, and given her no-nonsense attitude towards me, she would also be unlikely to be moved by a whining parent.

Just the same, I hesitated with my hand on the door. How long does it take teachers to remember that they're working at a school? How long before it doesn't feel weird?

Maybe it was less weird in a more modern public school, where there was a private entrance for the teachers.

I pushed open the doors and every head in the room turned to see who it was. I should have expected that.

“Class, this is Sam,” Cheerilee said. “I’m sure you’ve all seen her around town. I invited her here today to tell us about her homeland.

“But before she starts,” Cheerilee continued, no doubt for my benefit as well, “we need to finish our math problems.”

•••

“And that's the history of Canada,” I said. I'd glossed over a lot, either because I couldn't remember it or because I didn't think that it was something that foals ought to know about. Maybe ponies in general shouldn't know about it. There was plenty to be said about revisionist history, but I thought that literally worlds apart, small omissions wouldn’t matter.

Actually, it might be smart to have my next discussion with Tenderheart cover some of the basics about pony taboos. She wouldn't like it, but I think she'd do it. I really should have done that quite some time ago. Maybe ponies made hats out of beaver pelts, too, and I could have said more about the hunter-trapper days. That was the part of Canadian history everybody back home knew.

“Does anypony have any questions for Sam?”

I don't know why I didn't see this coming. Of course there would be a Q & A session; every guest presentation we'd ever had when I was in school ended with it. Maybe they're a bunch of slackers and don't want to ask any questions.

Nearly every hoof in the room shot up.

I looked over at Cheerliee. I didn't know most of their names well enough to call on them, and I wasn't sure if calling them things like “the orange one,” or “you with the braids” might be unintentionally insulting. Plus, she probably knew who the troublemakers in the class were and wouldn't call on them.

She was sharp enough that she picked up on my hesitation right away, and pointed a hoof towards a filly. “Boysenberry?”

“Are you related to minotaurs?”

“I don't think so,” I said. “Human ancestors were monkeys.”

“Is it true that you hunt from trees?” Liza Doolots asked.

“Not anymore,” I said. “That was back when we weren't—when we hadn't made a civilization and learned things yet. Back when we lived in caves.” I had a sudden image of caveponies all sitting around a fire in front of a cage and suppressed the urge to snicker.

“Are you a traitor? Like minotaurs?”

“A traitor?”

“Trader,” Cheerilee said helpfully. “A trader is somepony who sells goods like Filthy Rich; a traitor is somepony who betrays other ponies.”

“A lot of humans are traders,” I said. “Like for food, we have a system where a farmer grows it and then they sell it to somebody else who sorts it out and delivers it to distant stores. Sometimes not even in the same country—we export lots of grains.”

“What's export?” This was from a unicorn named Snails.

“It's where you send something to a different country.” Do ponies have different countries? I wasn't sure.

“When we send things to the Crystal Empire, that would be an export,” Miss Cheerilee said. “And if we buy things from them, that's an import.”

“How come humans don't have cutie marks?”

“It's just the way that we are,” I said. “Some humans want to have something like a cutie mark, though, so they get what's called a tattoo. You can put them wherever you want, and some people have lots of them.”

“Can ponies get tattoos?”

I hesitated a minute before answering. I knew that some animals got ear tattoos to identify them, and it seemed likely that the same could be done to a pony; however, I wasn't sure if that was something that ponies did, or that I should suggest to them. “I don't know. Nobody would be able to see it under your coat anyway. They don’t glow or anything.”

“How come you don't have a coat?”

That question had been bound to come up sooner or later. “Humans just don't have coats,” I said. It wasn’t much of an answer, but it was the best I had. I could have explained that some scientists thought we’d lost them to avoid parasites, but I wasn’t sure how the class would react to that idea.

“How can you balance on your hind legs without a tail?”

“I guess just a lot of practice.” There were probably scientists who could give me a good answer on that, but it would have amounted to the same thing. I'd seen a few home videos of me when I was a toddler, and I certainly couldn't walk on two legs very well back then. “Human babies start out walking on all fours like ponies and then we practice being on our legs—our hind legs—until we get good at it. Sometimes we have little wheeled doughnuts that we can stand inside and hold on to and get practice that way.”

Diamond Tiara held up her hoof. “Wouldn't it be easier to just stay on all fours?”

“Well, there are a lot of things that you have to learn as a kid, you know. Maybe things that it would be easier not to learn, but if you want to be a grown-up, you have to learn them. For us, being able to walk on our hind legs is one of those things.”

“It’s smart to know. Sam can go deeper in the river,” Apple Flora said. “She can keep walking on the bottom where my hooves can't touch at all. I bet she could walk all the way across it if she wanted to.”

She was right—I could, at least in the spot where I usually bathed.

“Does anypony have any more questions?” Cheerilee looked around the room. “Thank you, Sam, for coming in to speak with us. Class?”

“Thank you, Sam,” they all said, mostly in unison.

•••

On the way back to my house, I stopped by the job board. Since I was coming by late, I hoped that I'd see an offer that I never had before. There wasn’t much chance of that; I was sure that the ponies who were more familiar with the system knew what times the best jobs were posted.

There were some jobs that I simply wasn't capable of doing, which was a pity, since those were often available. Things like hauling a wagon. Although I suppose there might be a way that a harness-maker could build me some sort of harness. I didn’t think I’d be very good at it, and I didn’t think that any potential pony employer would believe that I was going to be, either.

I found a job offer pretty quickly, put up by a pony named Honey Dipper. I'd seen a few notes on the board from her before and ignored them since I figured it was some kind of beekeeping job, and I had little desire to be stung. Thinking back about how good Fluttershy was with bees, I decided that any pony who was keeping them would also be good with them, and she'd be able to prevent them from stinging me.

Plus, Honey Dipper was paying really well, which was a bonus.

I didn't know her or where she lived. I assumed that it was on one of the farms outside town, and I should have found out right away, but I was emotionally tired from talking to Cheerilee's class, and as soon as I remembered that I could get directions from Pinkie Pie whenever I wanted to, I decided that the best thing would be to rest up tonight. I could get up early tomorrow and stop by Sugarcube Corner for a morning cup of coffee. I'd get directions then.

Rose, Daisy, and Lily were all busy with a flower harvest. I hadn't appreciated how much work farming was before I got to Equestria, but it was. The crops came when they were ready, and the farmers had to work until they were all in.

Maybe that was why Honey Dipper was paying so well. Maybe she didn't have any help; maybe other ponies were busy with their harvests and couldn't help her.

There was probably a lot more farm work I could do if I got more of the farmers to trust me. Besides Apple Flora and Apple Bloom, Apple Crumble and Apple Mint were also in Cheerilee's class, and now they all knew that I could climb trees. Maybe they'd tell their parents and come apple harvesting time, I could work on an apple orchard. A lot of them I could pick right from the ground.

That was something to think about. It would be more fun than chopping wood or hauling sacks of flour, that was for sure. I'd always liked going to the U-Pick apple orchards when I was a kid.

Of course, apple harvest time wasn't going to be for a while yet.

•••

I stopped at home just long enough to change into different shorts—one of my older pairs—and then went over to Rose's house. Since I wasn't doing anything else, it would be churlish to not offer my assistance if she wanted it.

Rather than knock at the front door, I went around behind the house to their gardens. The three of them were all busy at work in their beds, clipping blossoms off the plants. “Hey, Rose, want some help?”

She didn't answer right away, although to be fair, I'd kind of caught her by surprise, and she did have a pair of shears in her mouth. Lily and Daisy both looked at me and I swear Lily's ears pinned down briefly, then the two of them looked at Rose.

“You could . . . carry the pails,” she said, tilting her head towards a bucket of blossoms. “They go just towards the back of the house, where it's shady, you'll see. There's a couple of crates there where we're putting the flowers.”

“Okay.” I almost climbed over the fence before realizing that that might not be neighborly of me, and instead went around to the gate.

As I picked up the first bucket, I could feel Lily's eyes on my back. I should have asked Rose before I came over. I didn't know that much about flowers, after all—it wasn't an insult that I was on carrying duty. They wouldn't trust me to know which flowers to clip off or where they should be cut or anything like that. I wouldn't trust me to know that. All the flowers looked pretty much the same to me, but they weren't cutting all of them from each plant, so I guess that the ones they were leaving behind weren't ready yet.

I could hear them whispering behind me as I carefully emptied the pail out into the box. I didn't think that you could bruise flowers, but I wasn't sure, and they'd hate me if I somehow damaged their crop.

It took a little bit before the other two began warming up to me. It wasn't until Rose asked me about how my class presentation had gone; that got Daisy's interest. She kept working while I told Rose about it, but her left ear was cocked over in my direction.

Lily had moved to the other end of the beds, as far away from me as she could get, but now she was reconsidering. She'd started to move across the rows to get back closer.

“It went pretty well,” I said. “I thought . . . I told them about Canada, and then they asked a bunch of questions. There was—can ponies get tattoos?”

“Tattoos?” Daisy dropped the flower she'd been holding into her pail and set her scissors down. “What are tattoos? Are they like fleas? You don't have tattoos, do you? That’s not why your fur’s gone, is it? Rose said—”

“It's like a fake cutie mark,” Rose said. “You mentioned that once.”

“Is it Cutie Pox?” Lily had moved closer, but kept two rows of flowers between us.

“No! Tattoos aren’t a disease or infection—they aren’t a bad thing.” Although there were plenty of people who would disagree with that opinion. “It's like paint that you wear forever.” I pointed to my arm. “You can go to an artist who puts them on. They have a little electric needle thing and it injects ink under your skin.”

“That doesn't sound like a good idea.” Daisy lifted up her leg and studied it. “How would you even see it?”

“That's why I was wondering. I—” In for a penny, in for a pound. “Sometimes on Earth, we put them on animals, inside the ear.”

Lily flinched. “Inside your ear? Why would you do that? Wouldn't that hurt?”

“I guess it must. I don't know. Humans don't get them inside their ears, we get them somewhere else so that everybody can see them. Something that's meaningful to us.”

“Were you thinking of getting one? You could ask at the hospital; they have needles there. If anypony would know how it’s done, it would be the nurses.”

“I wasn't,” I said. Although not for the first time, I thought about how having a fake cutie mark might make things a little bit easier for me. I could have it put just about wherever, and claim that was where humans got them. Of course, it was too late now; enough ponies in town had already seen that I didn’t have one anywhere.

“It doesn't seem right.” Lily picked her scissors back up. “Pretending to have something that you don’t.”

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