At Badger’s House.

Ralph Waldo Emerson made the observation, in his essay, “Prudence”, that if you don’t repair your roof on a sunny day, you’ll be running around with pots and pans as soon as it rains. And then all your hopes and dreams will be on hold.

Concerning the value of prudence and of industrious preparation for the future, Ant and Grasshopper are well-known to hold very different views.

One day, in late Autumn, Ant and Grasshopper were having tea at Badger’s house, when a migrating Canada Goose showed up. After listening for a while to a discussion on the benefits of travel, the Canadian visitor cleared his long throat and announced that he had composed a Haiku on that very subject somewhere over North Dakota:

I think more and more
About how to get back home
Yet I’ve never left

Badger took his pipe out of his mouth and nodded thoughtfully, while Grasshopper started jumping from the couch to the lamp shade and back again in vigorous approval, all the while exclaiming, “Did you hear that, Ant? That’s exactly my point. There’s no need to keep building a new home. The world is already our home.”

Ant remarked dryly: “Calm down, Grasshopper. Unlike you, our foreign friend is preparing for the winter by migrating toward the equator. But what do you do? If Badger wasn’t sharing the supplies in his excellent root cellar and letting you sleep here, you’d already be lying on your back in some cold field, dead as a stone. I don’t wish to offend, but what a waste of potential your sorry life is.”

Grasshopper, undaunted, hopped up onto the kitchen table, made a few circles, then sat down on his haunches and proceeded to disclaim on his favorite subject.

“While you carry body parts in one direction and grains of sand in the other, those of us who see further than the rear end directly in front of us are free to inhale the autumn air, celebrate the early morning mist, and to bask in the glorious sunlight. And who doesn’t appreciate the Earth, mother of life? But only an obsessive/compulsive would keep digging tunnels in the dark, day after day, from morning to night.”

Ant, who was at Badger’s that afternoon to repair a pipe needed to carry water from the pump to the kitchen sink, was studying blueprints spread out in front of him, and may not have heard Grasshopper’s speech. But Badger stood up from his rocking chair and cleared his throat.

“I propose a debate to be held here this Sunday afternoon. Grasshopper, you will defend the affirmative of the premise: ‘Home is wherever the heart can roam.’ And Ant, you will take the negative side. Tear this proposition down; dismantle it; devour the leftover bits and pieces; demolish all empty rhetoric; and skewer the slightest hint of implausibility.”

Ant started to plead prior obligations: “It sounds like great fun, however I’m afraid that Rat needs me to retrieve an engagement ring he dropped into a crack in his patio . . .”

But Badger knew his way around Ant. “This Sunday, I will be breaking into my summer corn harvest—organic, non-GMO. Doggy bags allowed.”

Ant immediately fell silent, as Badger turned to the Canadian visitor and said, “Well my fine-feathered friend, you started this with your Haiku. So I trust you will stay to see what you have wrought.”

But the visitor from Canada spread his impressive wings–knocking several mice off a nearby book shelf–and said,

While the Sun wings South
I must follow in His wake
Lest my days end here.

Badger nodded and said, “Until next Autumn then, my venerable friend.”

Badger lit his pipe, picked up the newspaper and buried himself behind it, until even Grasshopper got the hint and went to watch Ant struggling with a rusted pipe fitting. Soon Grasshopper was giving Ant the benefit of his fund of practical wisdom.

“Remember, Ant. Righty tighty, Lefty loosey.”

Ant kept his counsel as he continued to work, but he may have been preparing a few choice remarks for Sunday.

5 comments to “At Badger’s House.”
  1. In my past readings of this fable I never realized how truly annoying grashopper could be! Ant is a saint!

  2. I think that I am always searching for some balance between being mindlessly led around by my to-do-lists and letting my plans slide day after day. As for Ant being a saint in dealing with the annoying grasshopper, I hope my fellow Canadians appreciate that I gave the best lines to the Canada Goose.

  3. Ah, discussion is the best form of debate. I wonder if one is more industrious and well-prepared, and the other more free-spirited and flexible in setting direction. Although my own sense is that we probably each have to resolve that tension in our own breast.

    I think I will title next week’s blog “Balance”, and attempt yet again to argue myself in that general direction.

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