The Ant and the Grasshopper

In a field one summer’s day, a grasshopper was hopping about, chirping, singing to its hearts content and taking time to actually enjoy the beauty of the world about.

An ant passed by bearing along with great toil an ear of corn, a crushing hunk of imposed guilt, and a sack of feelings of inadequacy he was taking to his nest.

“Why not come and chat with me, and drink of the bounty of this life?” said the grasshopper, “instead of toiling and moiling for a future after death in that peculiar way of yours?”

“I am helping lay up the bounty needed to ensure my salvation and I recommend you do the same”

“Why bother about that?” said the grasshopper, “we have plenty of things to enjoy here and at present.”

But the any went on its way and continued its toil, unchanged except for the requisite shunning of the grasshopper.

When the winter of its life came the grasshopper looked back without regret on a joyous life well lived. Thinking this life was all he got, he tended to enjoy the here and now finding beauty in a lot of little moments that toiling after some future reward might have caused him to overlook. Life alone provided ample surprise, purpose and reward in unexpected places.

The ant had forgone much in order to prepare for what would come in time and hoped, at last for a reward for all that toil though never knowing in the end that his husk and that of the grasshopper made the same mindless dust in the earth.

The grasshopper looked on at all the preparations and effort put forth by the ant to the exclusion of much else. And before he passed on the grasshopper knew that the best days aren’t by necessity the ones prepared for... ;)


The Explanation for a Lot of Our Problems...

Familiars know that I like gardening. I’ve wanted to plant a section of espalier fruit trees in a troublesome section of the postage stamp that constitutes my urban landscape for a long time. The plan was simple - anchor each of three espalier trees to a simple lattice made from two capped cedar posts painted to match the house with steel wire strung between to hold one of three branches on either side of the tree’s trunk. Other than the fact that the ground in that area is harder than diamond and I had to dig up to 4 feet with a hand post hole digger, no problem.

The area in question is on a complex slope so making the posts look right and be even at the top was a bit of a sticky wicket. And that was before all my help arrived. I use this label generously to describe all the people who showed up to tell me what I was doing wrong without solicitation.

One of the burdens I have is that being a surgeon I can be a bit of a perfectionist - not a bad thing in your surgeon by the way. I fussed with those poles for some time to ensure that they were level in all planes and that the tops of each pair was exactly level with each other before I fixed the posts. I admit that the ground created an optical illusion before the trees were planted that made them look tilty. I even re-plumbed them once just to be sure. But being quite confident in the basic reliability of a level bubble I set out to fix the posts. Firstly my beloved Mrs Pliny came out and told me the posts were crooked. I begged to differ and tried to assure her that they were plumb. She insisted on seeing for herself - several times. Finally convinced she still said it looked wrong. Nevertheless, being a rational being (other than that one crazy albeit fortunate impulse 18 years ago to marry ole Pliny) she let it drop. Not the neighbors however. They came over and all proceeded to tell me the posts were crooked. I had each watch as I re-leveled each plane on the posts proving that indeed the bubble was centered in all planes. They still weren’t convinced. One guy kept insisting that it was crooked. I said, “What are you going to believe, your eyes or gravity?” He chose his eyes.

One guy had a transit. He shot the posts with respect to the lines of my house and proved that it was spot on. Still not all were convinced. When the things were done (having escaped the possibility that my head might explode), people liked them even if they aren’t convinced by levels, measurements, surveys and simple math.

And we wonder why evolution is such a hard sell...