By: Blonde Two
If the world of people is really split up Aesop style then I am definitely a Tortoise. When I was a girl, I dreaded the summer school term because it meant athletics. Athletics to me meant whole afternoons at a time coming in last to races and refusing to jump over things while the teachers yelled “It’s easy for you, you’ve got long legs”.
I have got long legs but for some strange DNA related reason, these have not made me fast. I spent quite a lot of time during our walk yesterday wondering why. Up hill is easy to explain – I just need to get fitter, downhill, my knees hurt, but on the flat, I can’t work out what it is. I can walk for days and days at a steady pace but I don’t do it quickly. A couple of months ago, someone told me to slow down because they couldn’t keep up with me (we were walking up a hill) – I was shocked – it had never happened before – I don’t imagine that it will again for a long time.
So yesterday as we were struggling up some rather challenging, snowy slopes, I was pondering the story of the Tortoise and the Hare. I have no problem relating myself to good old Tortoise in this story, he is steady and thoughtful and always gets there in the end. Aesop’s telling all works well until you get to the very end of the story – the bit where Tortoise gets in first. The thing is, I never do – the Hares run and sometimes faff around but I am always there at the back, bringing up the rear, last onto the minibus.
I have kind of got used to it now and accepted that knowing who is at the back can be useful. It gives anyone else who is struggling a bit of encouragement and you can always tell the good kids because they are the ones who stop to check if you are alright. I once had the lovely experience of following a group of youngsters down off the North Moor as it got dark – they knew what they were doing and I sent them on ahead but just past each navigation point, they stopped until they had checked that I was following the right way. It was beautifully done and very subtle – I was quite moved by their thoughtfulness.
Aesop wrote other stories about Tortoise, one with Ducks and one with an Eagle. In both of those, the Tortoise got ideas above his station, tried to fly and came to a sticky end. So even though it might make me cross with myself at times (it certainly did yesterday), the moral of this story is that if you are a Tortoise – be a Tortoise – who wants giant back feet and big lollopy ears anyway?