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Sour Grapes And A Fox

October 27, 2014

“Again and again he tried after the tempting morsel, but at last had to give it up, and walked away with his nose in the air, saying: “I am sure they are sour…”

– Aesop’s Fables

Somewhere the Sixth century B.C., Aesop said… “A fox strolling, through an orchard, spotted a bunch of ripe grapes hanging from a vine grown up a tree. That fox was hungry, so hungry that he talked to himself. He said, ‘I’m so hungry, I’ll even eat grapes.’

“When he jumped up to snatch a bunch off the vine, he missed. He took a running jump and he still could not reach the grapes. A crow told him – and the fox was so hungry that other animals spoke to him, too – that fat black bird said from high up in boughs, ‘You will starve.’

“’You, fox, you will die because you lack ambition.” The bird squawks, “Take what is available to you. Eat the grapes there in the dirt. Take what has fallen off the vine and rotted.’

“The bird cackles.

“’The ripe grapes are all mine.’

“The fox complains. ‘The grapes in the dirt are covered with biting ants. And the fruit is fermented, all the same.’

“’Eat them,’ screeches the bird. ‘The ants are extra protein in a diet such as yours. And the spoiled grapes will make you drunk. Foxes like you like to get intoxicated. Eat so many grapes that you no longer care you are hungry.’

“And the fox is famished, so he eats grapes that have fallen off the vine. He takes ants into his mouth and they bite his tongue and his throat when he swallows them down. The fox feels the insects’ poison or the fermented fruit spin his mind. All the while, the elevated crow devours ripe grapes. The bird isn’t even hungry.

“The crow eats the good grapes and teases the fox. ‘Jump, jump and get the ripe grapes. They are so sweet. They are so full of fresh vitamins.’

“The fox gets an idea. He tells the bird, ‘Don’t eat all the grapes. I will reach the vine, I can do it.’

“His tongue lolls from his mouth and the fox slurs his words when he speaks. ‘Let’s play a game, fat bird. We can play a game you will like.’

“’My grapes are not your prize,’ stakes the crow.

“’No,’ the fox promises. ‘I will get the grapes. And you can laugh at me when I try.’

“’Try,’ the bird says. He eats the good grapes all around him and he asks the fox, ‘What is your game?’

“The fox says, ‘You will eat one of your good grapes every time I fail to grab any grape.’

“’I will eat one of my grapes every time you jump and fail?’

“’Yes.’

“’I already do,’ chuckles the crow. ‘That’s why I don’t fly away and I wait.’

“The fox says, ‘Then that is what we will do.’

“He staggers beneath a bunch of grapes he can never, ever reach. When the fox jumps up, his angle is awkward and uncoordinated. His leap is weak and already he is tired. The fox acts inebriated, that is what the crow sees.

“The fox failed his attempt, so the bird caws aloud and swallows a fruit whole. The crow would do the same even if it did not play a game. He was overstuffed and he could never quit.

“All day long, the crow eats a grape each time the feeble fox jumps into the air and fails. He eats two when the fox falls to the ground painfully onto its back. Even while the intoxicated animal rests, the bird consumes fruit there appears no room for beneath its round shawl of feathers.

“Near sunset, after the fox has spent the day never claiming a prize other than sour ants and alcohol, the overfed crow wobbles on the branch on which it is perched. He is drowsy then falls off.

“The bird topples to the earth and lands knocked senseless near the panting fox. That fox tells the stuffed crow, ‘I do this all day. I jump all day and I seldom ever eat. It’s all I do. Now, tonight, I find a foolish bird and I dine on fat and wine.’

And the morale is…

“EAT WHAT YOU DESPISE.”

– Matthew Sawyer

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