Marlene lived alone. She was a spinster. It’s not that she had anything against having a family; it’s just that the right person hadn’t come along at the right moment. She was now in her late seventies, and she lived a very ordered life.
Marlene had a small garden. A little portion was reserved for growing flowers. She grew only those flowers that could be cut and put in a vase. The rest of her garden was devoted to vegetables.
Of course, she needed to grow only a few vegetables. For example she grew two cucumbers, one squash, two celery plants, two tomato plants, and so on. It meant that her packets of seeds were good for several years, provided she kept them in a dry place.
This year Marlene sowed two cucumber seeds. Neither came up. She tried a couple more. Nothing germinated. She tried half a dozen more. Nothing happened.
“I’ll give it one more chance,” said Marlene. “Maybe these old seeds are passed their use-by date.” She sowed all twenty-two remaining seeds. “Maybe,” thought Marlene, “there might be one or two seeds that are still good.”
Nothing grew. There was nothing for it but to buy a new packet of cucumber seeds. Marlene sowed four seeds from the new packet. Within a week the seeds sprouted. And so did all the other thirty-four cucumber seeds.