Jun 9, 2016

The Fable of the Blueberries Deep in the Woods

The Fable of the Blueberries Deep in the Woods
This little story popped into my mind this morning. I had been reading about the politics of fossil fuel energy, and this is what got stirred up in my imagination.

There was a man who foraged for wild blueberries that he gathered in the forest. He could sell them at a premium at the market. Each day during blueberry season, he loaded up a little cart with special berry buckets, and headed into the woods.

He could have planted blueberries on his land, but for several reasons he decided not to. First, it would be hard work - the digging, and planting, then the tending. It would take years for the bushes to begin to produce fruit. The blueberries would be larger, and just as sweet, but there might not be as many of them, and most importantly, he could get a much, much better price for the wild gathered blueberries than farmed blueberries. It only made good business sense. He could gather enough wild blueberries in one season to provide for himself for the rest of the year.

After several years of his foraging, he noted that the wild blueberry bushes where he had always picked were fading – there were not as many of them for some reason, and the ones he found were not producing as well. He decided to go farther into the forest to search for his treasure.

Sure enough, there were more blueberry bushes in forest clearings here and there, and they were more abundant than those he had picked from for years. There was even what seemed like a footpath he could follow, with blueberry bushes along the way here and there.

He came upon a surprise at one point along the path. It said, “TURN AROUND. DANGER AHEAD.” He looked around and listened, saw nothing to worry him, and continued down the path. When he had gathered enough to sell at the market, he took his treasure home. He kept returning down this path day by day, each time going farther into the forest.

Over the next few days, he encountered other similar signs. “TURN AROUND. DANGER!” But since he had been so successful gathering blueberries along this path, and he had not seen anything that worried him, he ignored them. This was a hoax, he decided. Someone else wants all these wild blueberries for themselves.

One particularly lovely morning, as the end of blueberry season was approaching, he decided to run quickly down the path, to reach the bushes that had not yet been picked over. He passed several of the signs warning of danger, and he barely saw them at all, he had become so convinced that they did not apply to him, and were probably meant to prevent him from the profits he deserved from his livelihood.

As he reached his destination, he saw that he had been right. There were many blueberry bushes, still heavy with ripe fruit that he could pick, to make his last trip of the season to the market to sell. They would bring in some good money for him to spend on himself, and life would be easy till the next blueberry-picking season. In fact, this might be the most profitable year he had ever had!

Intent on his labors, he moved along and was barely aware of another creature moving along also, a ways down the path. He heard something, at first: the crackling of twigs snapping, and a sound like the rustling of leaves in the breeze. But there was no breeze.

Looking toward the sounds, what he saw made his heart sink, and stomach feel sick. For here it was – the Danger. So deep in the woods, far from where people would normally venture (especially having been warned by the signs), was bear territory. The bear also made a living, if you call it that, picking wild blueberries.

The man’s mind raced. Half of his berry buckets were loaded with fruit. Could he get away with his cart without the bear noticing him? What if it did, what if it began chasing him? Could he outrun the bear while pulling the cart? He could run faster without it. But he couldn’t just leave the berries. He had just spent half the morning picking them! They were his berries! They were his to sell, to keep himself warm and fed for the rest of the year! If he could outrun the bear, would it follow him all the way back to his cottage? Then what? How long would it linger?

The rest of the story is up to the reader’s imagination. While it is a morality fable of sorts, its purpose has been served without details of the final scene.

This fable draws a parallel to many human donnybrooks, past and present. I hope it helps someone gain a better perspective on some of our issues in this day and age. Perhaps it will even give someone a way to reach out to others in an effort to gain cooperation to make more wise decisions. And right away.