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The Child and the Raspberry: A Prairie Fable

by Alex Dally MacFarlane

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In a house near the prairie town of Anntown there lived a small child who liked to pick raspberries from the plants growing around the house.

The family cultivated the fruits with wires and careful grooming and nets to keep the birds away. The child, still too small to do more than pull weeds from the soil when directed by an adult, spent some time each day wandering through the plants and plucking the fattest raspberries from the green branches. This was permitted, provided the child ate every one for lunch. But each day, the child took too many, and one of the adults took the rest for pudding and scolded the child, saying, “You should not be so greedy!”

The next day, the child had forgotten the words and again plucked too many fat, red berries to eat.

On one of these days, the child found a particularly large raspberry lying on the soil near one of the plants. This raspberry was so large that it covered over half of the child’s palm. Imagine how many sweet mouthfuls it would provide! Crying out in excitement, the child picked it up and examined it. No other raspberry had ever grown so large on the green branches!

Then the child saw another raspberry on the ground, equally large, and grabbed at it, imagining how delicious lunch would be.

But the child’s small fingers only splashed against water, over and over.

The second raspberry was a reflection, the child realised.

And while the child had fumbled in the water for a raspberry that didn’t exist, a bird had snatched the real one and flown away. If only the child had not been so greedy, lunch that day would have been more than four un-exceptional berries.

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