Chapter 2. Flower Dance (ផ្ការាំ)
You marvel at the world around you, as the basket drifts slowly towards the pond, now as grand as an ocean, and growing larger and larger by the second. In the majestic Ocean Pond, you see tiny floating islands made of lily pads, each one buzzing with color and life. You have never noticed these tiny islands nestled in the lily pads before, nor the creatures that scurry around them. The Fox points at a particularly green lily pad, jutting out from the shore, and says, ‘Perhaps these friends can help us answer some questions,’ as the basket slowly begins to drift down.
The Fox at your side, you float down towards the Lily Pad Peninsula, and as you get closer, you start to see tiny rivers, lakes and mountains! The basket settles into a clearing, where you hear the shuffling of feet. You and The Fox step out of the basket onto the Peninsula and see a crowd of characters -- small spikey hedgehogs, fluffy sun bears, and grinning wild boars -- all gathered at the foot of a lake near a small mountain. They are staring with anticipation at the lake, and at a tree branch hovering over it.
As you and The Fox come closer, a few of the animals turn to see you, and they suddenly look relieved. ‘Oh, good!’ says a fluffy Sun Bear, beckoning for you to join them. ‘Are we glad to see you... We’ve been waiting for the first flowers of the season to appear out of this lake, or to fall from this tree. We’ve been doing our dance, which usually makes the flowers bloom, but it doesn’t seem to be working!’ As you come closer, you see that the Sun Bear is holding a small, radiant red flower in its hands. The other animals look over and nod in agreement and concern.
‘But what is this?’ you ask. ‘Why, don’t you know?’ exclaims the Sun Bear. ‘It’s springtime! Each year, we perform a dance right here, on this very Lily Pad, by this very lake, to celebrate the blooming of the lake flowers. Have you never watched the flowers bloom before?’
You hesitate. Sure, you’ve noticed flowers in the garden before. But you’ve never watched them as they bloomed, thought about why they bloomed when they did, and you had no idea such a ceremony took place every single year! You feel a bit bashful, and say, ‘Well, I suppose not!’ The Sun Bear looks back towards the lake and continues. ‘Without the first blooming of the flowers, the Story of Springtime is trapped. And without the Story of Springtime, we won’t have our springtime harvest, or our springtime gatherings, or our springtime cherry feast, or….’ the Sun Bear trails off. ‘We’ve been doing the dance, but have seen nothing yet.’ The Sun Bear looks at the other creatures. ‘And we thought, perhaps, we need more energy, more voices, more dancers! You might be just the ones.’ Looking at you and The Fox, the Sun Bear tilts its head. ‘Would you join us?’
With that, the Sun Bear places the radiant red flower in your hands, and begins to explain the dance -- how the blooming flowers signal the coming of springtime, and how the cycles of the seasons bring all the creatures of the garden together. The dance, says the Sun Bear, is all about cycles. After several minutes, the music starts up, and together, you all perform the Flower Dance as one!
You are having so much fun that, for a moment, you forget your questions and confusions. And you almost don’t notice when a petal floats down from the branch of the tree, settling onto the surface of the lake. And there, on that water’s surface, a radiant red flower, just like the one in your hands, begins to reveal itself...