Sunday, December 02, 2007
Diligent and Dubious
There were two farmers, Diligent and Dubious. Diligent and Dubious both worked the land on the same side of the hill. Like Diligent, Dubious had an orchard and several chickens. One year, the sky refused to rain on Diligent and Dubious’ farms. There was no rain for many weeks and the trees in both orchards began to suffer immensely. After a time, it became apparent that the harvest that year would be very poor. Dubious looked out his window and thought to himself “Why do I bother with these sad decrepit trees? My chickens are still thriving. I really should invest all of my time into caring for them. I won’t make any money off of my pathetic orchard.” And so he stopped caring for his orchard and focused all of his time and attention on his plump squawking chickens. Diligent, too, looked out his window one day and said “My poor orchard! My trees are dying and will produce no fruit this year. They are suffering. If I want them to survive it will take a great deal of work.” And so Diligent went out and fed his chickens. Then he picked up two pails and walked to the well. He dipped the buckets down, down, down to find the water. And one by one, he watered each tree in his orchard. For hours we walked back and forth from his well to his trees. His arms burned from carrying the buckets full of water. His back ached from the strain of lifting and bending and watering. But each day he fed the chickens and spent triple the time he normally would on his orchard. From time to time, Dubious would lean over the fence and laugh at Diligent. “You silly farmer! You spend so much time on these pathetic trees. There will be no fruit this year! Give up. Go spend more time on your chickens.” Dubious’ chickens grew thick and fat and produced many eggs. His hens raised more chicks than Diligent’s. And though Diligent could see Dubious enjoying the profits of his labor, he continued to plod back and forth, watering each and every tree in his orchard. When Diligent’s well ran dry, he made his way to the stream trickling down the side of the mountain. The work became harder and more taxing. But still Diligent worked on his orchard. At the end of the year, Diligent’s trees bore no fruit. Dubious sat in his house and looked out his window and laughed to himself. “Poor Diligent. So much work and no reward!” he said as he counted his money. The snow came and covered Diligent’s orchard. He watched out the window as spring came and began to warm the earth. One morning, Dubious looked out his window and rubbed his eyes. And he rubbed them again. What had happened to Diligent’s orchard! He ran outside and stood agape at the fence. There beneath the tiny leaves, Diligent worked clipping and trimming and raking. His trees, they were glorious. Breathtaking. Bursting with blossoms. The year would be much more kind. Rain poured from the sky and Diligent’s trees grew thick with fruit. Dubious spent his summer replanting many trees that had died. Diligent spent his picking fruit. So much fruit that the branches strained under the weight. Each morning Diligent would feed his chickens and then go out to his orchard and pluck enormous glorious pieces of fruit from each bough, his chickens clucking pleasantly in the shade.