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Patience's Story

Patience is one of the 7 Saintly virtues. Aristotle once said; Patience is bitter but its fruit is sweet. Without knowing it, he had then just described our timeless Pale Ale.

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First amongst the Seven Virtues

Stop!  I can see you there. Rushing to and fro. Wishing today were tomorrow. Hoping this time was sometime later. Don’t you know there is only this moment, just this now?  Let me tell you the story of Patience; foremost of the seven virtues and learn a little of the art of resilience too, in the face of enduring criticism.

Not far from here, though it seems a long time ago, there lived an old farmer named Philomen with his good wife, Baucis.  Their small plot of land was on the rocky top of a hilly slope and not so productive as their neighbors, but they survived and were happy with their simple life.

One year, during a terrible drought, their crops had failed, and many were starving. It was during these hard times that Baucis heard a knock on the door and when she opened it she saw an old woman, kneeling on the doorstep. She had been shunned by all the other farmers in the village as she made her way up the hill and she pleaded for food and one night’s shelter. Saddened by her poor state, they welcomed her in, gave her some warm broth, a chair by the fire and their only blanket for comfort during that cold winter night.  The next morning, the woman thanked them for their generosity and asked Philomen about his crops. Philomen explained their desperate times and the old woman simply nodded and replied, “Patience, good things will come to you both, all in good time”. With that she gifted them 3 small bags of seeds with instructions to plant them each in separate rows on the first day of rain.  She then left and went on her way – the old couple not realizing they had that evening before, hosted Ceres, goddess of the earth and harvest.

The old couple waited and waited, while their neighbors had long ago planted their crops. They laughed at old Philomen and mocked him, calling him foolish, warning him of his impending peril. Still, the old man waited, and he remained unshaken.  Finally, a long rain came and even the rocky top of the hillslope was moist and fertile.  With that, the old man went out to plant the small bags of seeds the old woman had given them so many months before. His neighbors watched from inside their warm homes and laughed at their foolishness.

A year went by and the seeds had barely grown a sprout - but no signs of a pending harvest. His neighbors mocked him, for they had all harvested plentiful crops while Philomen and Baucis had nothing at all to show for their efforts. The old couple were weak from hunger and resorted to begging for scraps of food - but still, they patiently waited.

After the second-year small vines had sprouted on one row, while the other two showed some growth of short woody sticks - but no sign of edible crops at all. Again, they endured a year of ridicule by their heartless neighbors.

Finally, in the spring of the third year the small vines were growing a foot a day and were bountiful with hop flowers - while the rows of woody sticks had grown into strong and productive trees; one of olives and the other of large red pomegranates.  The old couple now had 3 plentiful crops that would last them all year round, each with harvests so plentiful they could also be traded and give old Philomen and Baucis a comfortable life.

The neighbors were humbled by their bad treatment of the old couple over these past years and begged Philomen to be taught his secrets. “Patience” he said, as he quoted Aristotle “for Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet”.  Ah yes, Patience, my good friend Aristotle was wise and I do miss him.