In which there's another little winter story (I rarely run out)


There's a gigantic, scruffy-looking black walnut tree in the backyard at Haiku Farm.  

When we moved here in early spring 2009, the other trees were already beginning to bud and leaf out, but the walnut stood steadfastly naked for months.  If we'd had more time, we'd have called it a dead tree and cut it down for firewood, but the first year in a new place is a busy time, and the first year on a farm is doubly busy.

I don't think we paid any attention to the tree until summer...when it suddenly produced leaves, buds, blossoms and fruit.   Amazing.  



The Walnut Tree and the Philosopher (Turkey)

Long time ago, when people didn’t know many things, and that included how to eat walnuts, a walnut tree grew by the road. It might have been planted there by someone, or it could have grown there by chance.


One day a traveler passed by. He stopped by the old walnut tree to rest in its shade. Then he noticed the green fruits and tasted one of them only to spit it out in disgust, because the husk was so bitter.

Sometime after he had gone, another traveler passed by. He too sat under the tree and noticed the tooth marks on the fruit the first one had bitten. “This fruit must not be very tasty,” he thought. “But everything in this world has a purpose. It must be the hard heart that is to be eaten.” And he bit the hard shell but nearly broke a tooth in the process. He too walked away hungry.

Next came a traveler with a scholarly disposition. He studied the fruit carefully, first tasting the bitter skin, then scratching the hard shell until he came up with the idea to break the shell with a stone. That was rewarded with the tasty walnut. The scholar smiled contently: “Wisdom and patience conquer all,” he thought.

Soon a businessman leading a donkey laden with his goods arrived under the tree. The scholar happily shared with him his secret. The businessman thanked him and after they had eaten loaded the donkey with walnuts for sale. He let the scholar ride the donkey as a reward for his discovery while he himself walked and rubbed his palms in anticipation of his future profit.

They traveled in silence but soon darkness fell over the road. They were worried because there wasn’t a town or village to be seen and they were afraid to spend the night in the dark forest. Suddenly the merchant saw a faint light in the distance.

“There," he said. “I see a light!”

“But how can that faint light help us,” said the scholar. “It is so small and lonely while the forest is big, dark and threatening.”

While they were arguing, the light moved closer and they saw a man carrying a lantern.

That man was a philosopher who lived in a hut by a lake nearby. He took the travelers to his place to spend the night.

The inventive travelers shared with him the secret of the walnut tree, and gave him a bag of walnuts as a gift.

“Well done!” said the philosopher. “Tomorrow, I will go and begin to travel all over the world and plant a walnut tree by all the roads that I pass.”

“But, then who will buy the walnuts that I am trying to sell?” said the businessman, disappointed.

“Don’t worry,” answered the philosopher. “When more people taste the walnuts from the trees by the roads they will be more likely to buy them from you in the city marketplace.”

“But what will be your reward for your labor?” asked the businessman.

“And how exactly do you plan to do it?” asked the scholar. “I mean, how many walnuts will you start with and where you will plant them?  Will you start your journey towards the East, West, North or South?”

“To tell you the truth, I don’t know,” answered the philosopher. “But as the light from my lantern is just enough for us to see the immediate road in front of us, my initial intention and desire will carry me perhaps to the next step on my way towards my humble goal. And if I meet someone else with a lantern, then together we will be able to see further.”

Thus they spent the night comfortably until the sun rose over the dark forest and they went each on their way to find their own happiness.


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