Sunday, 11 April 2010

How the palm tree outsmarted the sea

The sea was in a terrible mood. She roared in against the land with a fury few had seen before. She was being egged on by the wind who howled encouragement and frightened all the creatures that had to live in that place. Most of them hid. The little birds huddled together in the branches of trees and put their heads under their wings. The land animals found burrows and scrapes and hollows and closed their eyes and waited for the storm to pass.

On the sea itself the towering waves, grey green, flecked with spume, rolled in and over again and again and the sandy shore was hidden in a froth of salty suds. In the air the clouds raced by, changing shapes, weeping with joy, splashing anyone who was about and thoroughly enjoying the frolic. A few gulls that were about, flew high in the wind and were blown and tossed in the sky almost completely out of control. They streamed by each other, using only the energy of the wind to turn, dive, rise and stall and then to catch a gust again.

The sea had never felt so powerful before and even when the wind died down and sang a gentler song the sea continued to throw her weight about. Flotsam covered the beach. Fronds from the palm trees were torn off, weeds and bushes and leaves blew into great piles of debris and the sea saw all this and smiled to herself.

"Who is mightier than me?"

No one answered.

"I can do anything I want."

Still no one answered. But the sand on the shore was so frightened that in trying to nod in agreement made funny wavy lines as it followed her up the beach and back out again. This pathetic show of obedience didn't satisfy her, so she threw a great heap of planks and seaweed and shells out of the water up against a palm tree.

She repeated "I can do anything I want," to the palm tree.

The palm tree just waved a frond or two and replied, "You don't belong here, why don't you go away?"

The sea was furious, how could such a stupid looking plant speak to her like that. She determined to make the palm tree pay for her insolence. On the next high tide she came back up the beach, and said to the palm tree, "I am more powerful than you, therefore you must bow down to me."

The palm tree laughed in a coconutty way and ignored the sea, hoping that the sea could not reach her. And besides she had her own problems, which she shared with no one. It was the deadline of survival for her kind.

For years now she had been producing coconuts but none of them had ever taken root and grown into a palm tree like her. This made her very sad. When they dropped at her feet the coconuts could not take root in the shade of her fronds and eventually withered and died.

When the man creatures came and knocked them from her crown she thought that they might plant them. But later she saw them cutting off the fibre husk and cracking open the shell to drink the milk and eat the fleshy lining that was meant for the little seedling.

While she was thinking about the problem she looked down at the debris that the sea had thrown at her. There were sea shells and crab's claws, cuttlefish bones and quite a lot of stinking seaweed.

If the sea can throw all this at me why shouldn't I do the same and throw a coconut out of my shade? So the very next time the wind blew hard she dropped one or two coconuts down and sure enough they rolled a little way down the beach.

"Grow little ones she called."

But before the coconuts could mature and put down any roots the sea came back and threw then back up the beach to her and they sat down in all the rubbish that had been left there last time.

Each time the sea came close she would thunder up the beach and demand that the palm tree bow down to her. Again and again the tree tried to send her little round offspring away but each time they got pushed and tossed about close to the palm tree and never left home.

"If only I could get my babies a long way away they might have a chance," she said.

The very next time it was stormy weather the palm tree was pushed and tugged by the wind and she resisted as usual. Then in an unguarded moment a stronger gust of wind came and pushed her off balance and her whole trunk swayed and she found that she was leaning over. This gave her an idea and as each successive blast of air ruffled her fronds she bent with the wind and soon found herself bending right over the beach. When the gale had died down the palm tree did not resume her upright stance but continued to lean out to sea. So when she dropped her next batch of coconuts on to the beach they rolled right into the briny sea and floated there nodding back at her.

The sea looked up the beach and saw that the palm was bowed down towards her. Instead of getting into a frenzy at the palm tree for disobeying her, she remained calm. She didn't throw her weight around or anything else for that matter.

Gently lapping at the shore she said, "About time too." Then without thinking went back out off the coastline singing a sea shanty. "I got the better of that frilly, frondy, foliage."

All the while hardly noticing that she had taken a whole bunch of happy coconuts on the biggest adventure of their lives.

So it was that the palm tree outsmarted the sea and managed to get her coconuts taken away on the water. And there on another beach they were able to put their roots down and grow into palm trees just like her.


  1. What a delightful story! This was truly fun to read - I loved all the details.

  2. You have excelled here Old Egg. I love this. A parable story. Lots of great messages.

  3. This is a great story! You have powerful descriptive ability and a moving parable. (Unintentional pun).

  4. Your lovely tale immediately say's
    "children's story" to me. Oh, I'd enjoy reading it aloud, truly to anyone. Clever use of alliteration, too.


  5. Loved that. A great take on the powers and subtlety of nature.

  6. Nice allegory. I particularly smiled at the thought of a palm tree laughing in a 'coconutty way'! Jae

  7. wonderful take on the prompt :)
    was engrossed from start to end

    Deadline - Decline

  8. Beautiful fable. I love it!

  9. wonderful! what a fun take on the prompt!

  10. Old Grizz is happiest when a living thing wins a battle. Not that I don't like the ocean but she reminds me a lot of my ex-mother-in-law....always coming back for another shot. thankfully she didn't own a gun

  11. A very enjoyable read -- thank you for sharing this...
    Image & Verse

  12. Beautifully written. You inspire me! Thanks for stopping by.

  13. What a sweet story--perfect for a child. Lovely indeed!

  14. Oldegg,
    I appreciate this story much and have keep a copy with your name for my treasure box of 'good stories.' Well done! Well done!

  15. I can see you smiling as you write this. The determination of a 'coconutty' mother. It also made me smile too.