The Sunmaiden was a beautiful woman who lived in the sky. She liked to look down and watch the people on the earth. Like a mother, she cared about all of them, and interjected with the sun, the clouds and the rain to keep them happy and comfortable. The Sunmaiden brought good fortune to those who thought about her, but to all alike she was kind and generous.
One farmer, whom she especially liked, had a large vineyard. He always had plenty of grapes in the fall. He pressed as many as he could for juice. He let the neighbors pick grapes to eat. And he never shooed the birds away. They got to eat as many grapes as they cared to.
“My grapes are so good.” he would say. “I wish people far away could enjoy them too!”
When the spring planting was done and the pruners had pruned the vines, the tractors came though to do the mowing. They were always careful not to disturb the rows where birds nested.http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fa/Starr_050423-6729_Myrsine_lanaiensis.jpg/500px-Starr_050423-6729_Myrsine_lanaiensis.jpg
“We'll get those rows later.” the farmer would say. “The birds are the Sunmaiden's children too. Let the mothers sit on their eggs. Let the eggs hatch. Let the mothers teach their children to fly.”
When the sun beat down, the farmer gave thanks to the Sunmaiden for her warm rays. When the rain fell to water the plants, he praised her goodness aloud.
“Thanks be to the Sunmaiden who shows us her infinite grace and wisdom!” he would shout as he ran outside for a shower of rain himself.
When the cooler days of autumn arrived, the grapes were hanging in heavy purple bunches and the farmer knew it was time to harvest his crop. He prepared his machinery and called the harvest helpers to be ready for picking, the next day. Then he sat late into the night, thinking of the Sunmaiden's work and feeling peace and happy that the harvest could begin.
The tractors and harvest workers picked grapes all day and in the evening trucks came to collect the harvest. The grapes were brought to the press to be turned into juice. The workers took grapes home to eat with their families. Birds nibbled and so did all the neighborhood children. The farmer was tired and thankful, but still a bit wistful, wishing that even more people could enjoy this harvest.
The next day one of the tractors broke. The picking was stalled, while the mechanics worked on fixing the problem. Grapes lay off loaded in the back of the tractor wagon, roasting in the hot sun. A part had to be gotten from town and it was late when the farmer got back with it. Still, he didn't forget the Sun Maiden. “Thank you for a bountiful harvest.” he began. “And please do not let your grapes go to waste. Let people far and wide enjoy your harvest.”
He bid goodnight to the workers, and since it was getting dark, resolved to finish fixing the tractor in the morning light. He looked at the off loaded grapes in the tractor's wagon. Instead of large, plump, purple grapes he saw small, withered, brown ones. He reached down and picked one up. He always had a handful at the end of the day in the Sun Maiden's honor. She liked to feed everyone and he knew it pleased her to see him enjoying the harvest.
The withered grape was still warm from the sun, and a bit squishy in his hand. It tasted sweet in his mouth, concentrated and delicious. He reached for another, and then another, looking up at the sky in thanks.
“Raisins!” Why, the Sunmaiden had beamed down on him and showed him extra good fortune! Raisins remain delicious for a long time, and he could share them with all those distant people.
The next day, when the tractor was fixed, he asked his workers to spread the grapes in the sun on large sheets and collect them in the evening. Everyone liked the new grape raisins. They were packaged up in boxes to send to people far away.
The Sunmaiden was happy to see her people well fed and so was the farmer. And this, was only the beginning.