ophe's promise

something akin to a sketch pad

moon phases
Location: Hawaii, United States

one of my favorite quotes: Be Humble for you are made of earth; Be Noble for you are made of stars.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

A Different Sort of Crime and Punishment

The folks who lived up on Roberts Ridge were of an independent and resourceful breed. While there were shops in town below, most of their food came from their gardens, orchards and livestock, as well as the berries and game to be found in the forest. It was a kind of subsistence living, my grandparents didn't earn much by trade, but were able to feed a family of six amply. My grandmother's annual harvest task was to "put up" (can) about 200 quarts of each food item, including the meats, in order to tide the family through the winter months. And so, while there was no lack, each animal and plant was essential to their survival.

Relations with neighbors were peaceful and friendly. While visits were rare, visitors were welcomed hospitably. Most seemed to mind their own business. Yet, if there was a death or serious illness in one of the families, word would spread quickly and neighbors would show up with food and other offerings of assistance.

It was a real shock, then, one day, to discover that a cow had been stolen. It didn't take much detective work to find the likely culprit, though. A distant neighbor was known for his lack of skills in managing his farm and also, unfortunately, known to be rather stupid. His family just barely managed to scrape by. And so, when my grandfather learned that this family had just miraculously come by a new cow, he thought a visit was in order.

I can't quite imagine how this conversation went. I can tell you for certain, though, that no voices were raised, no threats made. My grandfather was an extremely quiet person with great dignity and simplicity. He didn't rouse the local police authorities nor raise up a "posse" of locals. He went to visit and came back home with his "borrowed" cow.

The consequences for the thief? Well, he was back to his "cowless" state. His family did not go without food that winter, either, though. And he never thought to borrow without asking from his neighbors again.

Free Hit Counters
Web Site Counter