A nature parable… “Active and Passive”

January 23, 2018

weathercock

The Weathercock was having a rough day… design by Meredith Eliassen, 2018.

Weathercock Card 

“Restless life! Restless life!” moaned the Weathercock on the church tower by the seas as he felt the wind sway his direction suddenly. He creaked with dismay, “restless, toiling life, and everybody complaining of one all the time…”

An old woman hobbling towards the church lamenting: “There goes that tiresome weathercock pointing east… now I know why my rheumatism has returned!”

Then a farmer warned the old gravedigger: “Watch out Tomkins! If that rascally weathercock is to be trusted, the wind’s going to bring us rain.”

The steadfast weathercock was horrified that he was always to blame for the weather, and muttered to himself: “Am I to blame? Did I choose my lot? Do you think I would swing every which way if I had a choice?”

sundial

Gatty’s motto for this story: “They also serve who only stand and wait,” is from Milton, 1673 Poems, design by Meredith Eliassen, 2018.

From below, the sundial grumbled under his breath: “Oh, how he chatters away up there… he almost makes me smile.” Reflecting upon his day, “Not a ray of sunshine has fallen upon me today. I wonder what Ol’ Weathercock finds to interesting to talk about. His life is so active, no doubt. Oh, what I would not give to be like him.”

The weathercock looked down at his longtime companion the sundial with envy: “Ah, that’s the life!”

Dial heard his name whispered in the wind: Hello up there! Did you call? Is there anything fresh astir? I get so tired of the long dark useless hours. So come on now, what have you been talking about?”

“Nothing profitable,” replied the weathercock. “I am just grumpy.”

“But why?” Asked the dial. “Your life is so active and bright.”

Weathercock thought Dial was mocking him. “Look at me! Swinging with every peevish blast that crosses the sky. Turn here, turn there, turn everywhere… never a moment’s rest.”

The companions fell silent as humans started passing with their daily routines… pausing a moment to examine the sundial or the weathercock to get a sense of what was coming.

A sailor lingered near the dial and read its weathered motto: “Watch, for ye know not the hour.” He just hankered for a long afternoon to relax, and mentioned this to the gravedigger in passing. Tomkins responded: “You’ll be cured of the wish for idle afternoons when they are forced upon you… wait until you are old like me and then you will understand.” With good-natured goodbyes, the two parted ways leaving the churchyard empty of its living guests.

The sailor went home and warned his sons to keep a lookout for there have been signs of a strong gale arriving and with the high tide, there could be dangerous or even deadly conditions.

Meanwhile, the sundial observed, “Just as I thought, everything is wrong because everybody is so dissatisfied.

Soon the farmer’s wife saw the tracts of white foam, thick like snow fields, on the ocean, followed the breakers as they crashed upon the shore like claps of thunder. That night, a mighty storm – a hurricane – came and stalled over the coastal hamlet causing great fear, but the weathercock and the sundial stayed the course.

The weather eventually cleared and the sun shined brightly over the village and the sea with the brilliancy of spring. Because the villagers recognized the signs and prepared, nobody was hurt and damage was minimal, indeed, the dial and the weathercock were buffeted to the point of shining like new. Villagers look at them renewed gratitude, thinking: “What a mercy!”

Dial heard this and asked his friend: “Are you silent, Weathercock?”

“I was just thinking,” he replied. “I have a new sense of my own responsibility. I have the sensation that everything is useful in its own place and at all times, though humans may not always figure that out.”

The sundial beamed, “that was my impression as well.”

===

Source: Margaret Gatty (1809–1873) wrote about marine biology and was prolific children’s book author and editor who mentored her daughter Juliana Horatia Ewing (1841-1885) in her writing career. While Gatty’s tales were targeted for juvenile audiences, she hoped that they would influence the minds of adults as well. This story is from her Parables from Nature.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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