July 06, 2022

#08-221: Three Foxes

"The Fox and the Crow"

Note: The fox has the reputation of being clever--even sly! But as two of these stories show, that's not always true.

Get Ready: What other animals are associated with personality traits--like "bees are industrious" or "owls are wise"?

We've heard stories about wolves; here are three more tales, starring the wolf's cousin, the fox.

In "The Fox and the Crow," a crow was sitting in a tree with a piece of cheese in his mouth when along came a fox--hungry, as usual.

After thinking about how to get such a delicious morsel, the fox said to the crow, "Good morning, Crow! What a fine day it is." The crow did not answer, but held tightly to the cheese in his mouth.

The fox added, "How lovely the sheen of your feathers looks in the daylight. You really are a beautiful bird!" The crow was flattered but still kept mum.

"But you know," the fox continued, "I have heard people say that you do not sing beautifully, like other birds do. In fact--I'm sorry to tell you--they say you have a terrible voice! If only I could hear you sing, I might be able to declare you the Best of All Birds."

Of course, no one thinks his own voice is ugly. So the crow opened his mouth to sing--and dropped the cheese!

"Thank you so much!" cried the fox as he grabbed the cheese. "And remember: Never trust a flatterer!"


Like that one, the next story, "The Fox and the Grapes," is from the story collection named for Aesop.

In it, a fox saw some delicious-looking grapes, but they were too high for him to reach. Try as he might, he could not grab them. At last, he walked away disgruntled, saying, "Never mind! They were probably sour anyway!" From this we get the expression, "sour grapes," meaning a negative attitude people adopt toward something they cannot have themselves.


The last story, "The Fox and the Vineyard," comes from Jewish tradition.

One day a fox saw some juicy grapes inside a vineyard surrounded by a fence. The fence was too high to climb, but the fox was just able to squeeze between the palings to enter and eat his fill.

After gorging on the sweet fruit, the fox found he was too fat to get out again! He had to starve himself for several days before he was able to leave.

When he finally got out, he shook his paw at the vineyard and said, "O vineyard, what good are you? I came to you hungry, and hungry I leave again."

My Hebrew teacher explained that in this story, the world is the vineyard; the grapes are the things this world has to offer; and we, of course, are the fox!


Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. disgruntled
  2. gorging
  3. Hebrew
  4. juicy
  5. morsel
  6. mum
  7. palings
  8. sheen
  9. squeeze
  10. starve

  1. quiet
  2. eating too much
  3. angry; dissatisfied
  4. go hungry
  5. full of liquid
  6. a bit of food
  7. pieces of a fence
  8. shininess
  9. fit into a small space
  10. the language of Israel

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for July 6, 2022

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. c; 2. b; 3. j; 4. e; 5. f; 6. a; 7. g; 8. h; 9. i; 10. d