Omir the Storyteller

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Sunday, June 05, 2005

About Where Strawberries Came From


My house has no yard to speak of. We like it that way, because none of us particularly likes yard work. We have a garden of sorts, though; scattered around the deck in the back are several planters, some of which grow things like chives and the sage we use for our Thanksgiving stufing every year, and some of which grow flowers. They haven't really started in yet this year, but from the window in my office I can look out onto the deck and see a planter, conveniently placed at eye level, which when the flowers are all in bloom is a riot of pansies, and peonies, and marigolds and a couple other flowers I can never remember the names of.

And down beneath the stand that that planter sits on, are two planters, each about four square feet, full of strawberry plants. The strawberries are flowering right now, but soon enough they will turn into fruit, and we'll get to watch as the fruit goes from green to red, and grows and ripens . . .

and then the crows will start eating them. They're mad at us, you know, because we have a little bird feeder attached to the office window that's just big enough for the swallows that frequent the house to perch on and eat from, but small enough that the crows can't get into it. (Don't ask me about the squirrels. They're kind of a sore subject. I haven't yet figured out how they get into this planter, six feet off the ground attached by suction cups to a window; but once or twice a year I'll see one of them in the bird feeder.) So the crows retaliate by getting into the strawberries. Last year we managed to harvest about four or five berries ourselves, and they were very good strawberries; maybe this year we'll get a few more. Here's hoping.

There's a number of stories about strawberries. Perhaps the most famous in the grand scheme of things is this Zen koan about living in the moment:

A monk was being chased by a tiger. He was fast approaching a cliff, but having no choice other than to be eaten by the tiger, he jumped over the cliff, not knowing what was below.

As he jumped he saw a vine down the side of the cliff, so he grabbed onto it as he went by. There he clung, gasping for breath, and he looked below him to see a ravine full of sharp rocks. If he let go of the vine he would surely fall to his death.

So there, with the tiger above and the rocks below, he noticed that two mice were gnawing at the vine, and would soon have it gnawed through, sending him crashing onto the rocks anyway. As he followed the vine, he noticed a strawberry blooming on the vine, just within his reach. He reached up, picked the strawberry, and ate it. How sweet the strawberry was!

So today you get two strawberry stories for the price of one.

Once again my memory fails me. I heard this story a couple of weeks ago on Global Griot, and I can't remember now who told it. If I can find the teller I heard it from I'll be glad to give her credit. She did, after all, create a beautiful story.

Thank you for coming by! I hope you enjoyed the story (and the strawberries), and as always, cheers to all of you and good stories to you until we meet again.


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