709. Treasures gleaned

709treasures

It was the chance of a life time; in fact, it was a rare privilege. Benjamin had been given the opportunity to live for a year far, far away from civilization, in the heartland of the indigenous peoples. He would learn from their ancient wisdoms.

He had read that by looking up at the sky, the people could tell what the weather would be like for the next week. By seeing a person’s footprint in the soil, they could tell how many hours or days or weeks or months had passed since that footprint fell. By seeing how early this or that tree flowered, it was known how long the summer would be. The height in the tree that such and such a bird nested was an indication of whether or not to make hay. Simply by placing an ear to the ground, you could tell the distance and number of a grazing herd. And the moon! They planted gardens and crops by the phases of the moon!

All these things Benjamin would learn. They would be treasures gleaned to last a life time; a richness of wisdom to serve through the years ahead!

There’s one now, sitting on his own in the corner of the local country pub! It’s the chief! The inheritor of these ancient wisdoms! The leader of the peoples!

“Hi!” said Benjamin. “How’s it going?”

“Good,” said the paramount chief. “How are you?”

“Good,” said Benjamin. “What’s the weather going to do?”

“I don’t know,” said the chief. “I haven’t had the radio on.”

34 thoughts on “709. Treasures gleaned

    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      Thanks Pauline. To be honest, a lot of the stories (including this one) I have heard people tell in the last 65 years – told not as a story as such but as a real event in their lives!

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  1. Cynthia Jobin

    I almost guessed the ending of this one,( because I heard my grandfather tell a similar one) but I enjoyed getting there—with the natural details. It seems sad when technology supplants human ingenuity, but I guess the other side of the coin is that we probably over-romanticize the way of life of indigenous people. They themselves seem to love the latest labor-and-thought-saving devices. My grandfather knew a lot of that natural lore. He would predict what kind of winter we would have by how fat the squirrels were in the fall, for example. Then he’d turn on the TV and have an on-going competition with the predictors on the weather report. He was usually as right as–and sometimes righter than—-they were!

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    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      There’s always/usually something in old folk lore (old wives tales if you like). My long-departed ancient second cousin always gave me an ointment she made up to put on my nose when I had a cold. The cold disappeared within the hour. Her secret has probably disappeared off the face of the earth now!

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      1. Cynthia Jobin

        That part is sad. I have an old set of encyclopedias that were a special offer (working people would buy one volume a week) at the supermarket in the fifties….there is all kinds of “knowledge” in there that would be laughable to many today and you can’t find it on the web…..forgotten knowledge. Like the old man said: “I’ve already forgotten more than you’ll ever know.”

        By the way, that photo at the top of this post is simply gorgeous….anybody I should know?

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        1. Bruce Goodman Post author

          I think it is a fairly disguised photo off the Net of an Australian Aboriginal… Re the “forgotten” knowledge – everyone knew this but me – don’t beat hell out of the oil and egg yolk when making mayonnaise, it doesn’t like air. (The modern books say to give it a good beating! – a silly example I know…)

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          1. Cynthia Jobin

            Not a silly example, a daily ordinary example…there are tons of them, and they all add up. It scares me to think of all what could happen if we should suddenly and for an extended period lose all the “conveniences” we enjoy now, thanks to electricity, and easy mobility, for example. Funny, I don’t worry about myself; I know how to do with very little and “invent.” But I shudder to think of the younger people….

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    1. Bruce Goodman Post author

      Yes. I look at the lovely thatched cottages and gardens and lakes and swans on chocolate boxes and jigsaw puzzles and think how wonderful. In reality, they probably all froze during winter and died of tuberculosis!

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  2. redosue

    I did not see that coming, just like I can’t predict the weather either. I really fell into that lyrical 2nd paragraph and got totally sucked in by the Noble Savage thing. Good one.

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  3. arlingwoman

    I got a good chuckle from this. I think we do romanticize the past. There’s an interview of John Banville in the New Yorker in which he asks how far we have to be from the past before it becomes luminous. Two days? Two weeks? What makes it suddenly better than now and how does it get that glow?

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      1. arlingwoman

        Now that’s very funny. I can recall two times. Once it was a downpour and the rain was making lots of little crown splashes. The other time, we were in for a long drive going on vacation and my brother and I were happy it was raining, since it was really a lost day and my father said he didn’t like driving in the rain…But that’s it. Goodness.

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  4. Oscar Alejandro Plascencia

    A rude awakening for the starry-eyed Benjamin. But he was determined and kept his nose to the grindstone. In hopes of seeing old wisdom in action, he ventured to ask the chief, “How many cattle are in this village and how far?”
    “Dunno,” replied the stoic chief, “Wife does all the grocery shopping at the general store around the bend. Parts come in styrofoam and cellophane.”

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Gentle thoughts and expressions of astoundedness are both gratefully accepted.

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