My son and his family are about to move to Guinea, my daughter-in-law working as a Nurse Practitioner for the US Embassy there.
Except for COVID19 I would have gone to spend another week with them in Washington DC just before they leave. But since I decided not to go, I was Zooming with my 11 year old granddaughter, Sasha, and we thought we would choose a writing prompt and each write a story.
She is a pretty good story writer, and I on the other hand, as well as I can remember, have never written a fictional story in my life! We chose the writing prompt “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral” and this is the story I wrote.
I need to also preface the story with some humor that you will not otherwise get because you do not know me well. I am known to be the person who will always say, whenever there is any conflict or some difficulty between people: “This is a perfect opportunity for personal growth!”
I had no idea that my story would be a personal growth story, but when I finished I looked up ”fable” to see if that would be a proper title. I found that a fable has plants, animals, or inanimate objects displaying human abilities and behavior, and sure enough there is always a lesson!
Here’s my story.
A GARDEN FABLE
Morning on the farm started out so peacefully that day, as the sun rose over the fields and pastures. But gradually from the garden you could hear first sighs and low murmurings, and then some quiet crying and complaining, then sobbing and wailing. By the time the mockingbirds noticed the uproar, there was loud yelling, potatoes were hurling themselves at the corn, the corn ears were beating the melons. Melons and squash were spitting seeds at everyone, the jalapeños were squirting hot pepper juice everywhere, tears were streaming from the eyes of the potatoes. The mockingbird flew in to sit on the fence, just in time to see rocks being thrown all over the garden, and general vegetable mayhem prevailed.
From up on the fencepost the mockingbird hollered out, “What’s going on down there?” He hollered a couple of times before anyone heard him, and eventually things quieted down and people began to tell him.
The Potatoes: We don’t like it down here in the dark where dirt gets in our eyes.
The Melons: We have to sit here in the dirt all day, but the corn gets to stand up and look around.
The Corn: We get tired of standing up straight all day. We never get to lie down. Its not fair.
The Cucumbers: We’re hanging all day on the vine and we get tired of holding on so tight.
The Beans: We are all mixed up among the leaves here, we’re so little and we can’t see anything.
The Carrots: Its so hard growing deep down in the hard dirt and now I’ve even hit a rock.
The complaints continued on until the mockingbird called out that he had a good idea for them. Finally they settled down to listen. He said, “I think the solution is easy and obvious. Why don’t you just trade places? You could choose what you think is the best place and go there”.
So the potatoes heaved themselves up out of the ground and went to hang on the tomato vines. The melons climbed up the corn stalks and latched on. The corn ears went to lie down in the melon bed. The cucumbers snuggled down in the potato bed. The carrots and eggplants went to hang on the cucumber vines. The mockingbird looked around and saw that he had helped them all solve their problem so he flew on to find other projects. Everyone in the garden was very excited and happy, for a few minutes.
But slowly the sighing and murmuring began. Then the crying and complaining, then the sobbing and wailing, then the yelling, the name-calling and the rock throwing; you could hear the ruckus for miles around. It attracted the attention of some crows who happened to be in the area.
The crows flew in and sat down on the high deer fence and marveled at the bedlam below. They hollered out, “What’s going on down there anyway?” Now everyone knows that crows are intelligent and wise. So when the garden people finally realized the crows were calling to them, they quieted down and begin to explain.
The Potatoes: We’re really tired of hanging on to these vines here, we’re not used to that. And besides we’re getting sunburned.
The Corn: We don’t like lying here in the dirt; the worms are crawling on us.
The Melons: We aren’t strong enough to hold on to these stalks all day.
The Carrots and Eggplants: We look really nice hanging here on the cucumber vines, but we don’t have a very good grip and we can’t hang on much longer.
The Cucumbers: We’re down here in the dirt and its dark and chilly; we don’t like it one bit.
So the wisest Crow began to advise. She said to the garden people, “You know, it looks like you’re all trying to be something you are not. We are all unique and we each need to find our way to the best place where we can learn and grow our best unique self. It seems like you haven’t made very good choices for that. I admire you for trying something new and being courageous and willing to make a change—those are very beneficial abilities. But there must be something that will work better for you to be your best selves”.
Even as the wise Crow spoke, the whole garden slowly began to move. Slowly and quietly everyone got up and found a better place to grow.
The Corn: Wow, man! There’s a great view from up here on the big stalks!
The Potatoes: Oh, its so peaceful and cool down here in the dark.
The Melons: We’re so grateful to be resting all day here on the soil among our lovely leaves.
The Cucumbers: We love climbing on these vines here in the sunshine!
The Carrots: I think I can grow around this rock a lot better than I can hang on a vine!
It went on like that until the Eggplants, the Squash, the Beans, the Peppers—everybody had found a better place to grow. In spite of the rough spots, they realized how the whole garden had worked together to work out their problems, how they had listened to wise advice. Happy to have been adventurous and tried something new, they felt they had learned a great lesson: be open to change, find the place where you thrive best, be your best unique self.
The Crows, feeling that their mission was completed, flew on to find their next one, while the sun went down over the once again peaceful farm and the very satisfied garden.