The young man came to his feet. He was a lot taller than Henry had thought. His eyes only met the man’s chin.
“Brad, it’s fine. He’s right,” said the girl, climbing to her feet also. “It’s their food and their land–this was a stupid idea.”
“You’ve got so much, it’s ridiculous not to share,” said Brad.
Henry thought of the small cot he slept on every night. He thought of Kino’s small cot. This man probably slept in a four poster.
“I’m sorry,” said Henry, though not backing down. “You must understand that if everyone took the fruit and left the trail it would disrupt the ecosystem of this place.”
The man raised his eyebrows in skepticism, but the woman behind him put a hand on his arm. Henry stared at her hand. It was so small when placed there, against the man.
“Lets go,” she said. “We don’t want to hurt this place. It’s so special.”
The man looked at her and he seemed to lose his resolve. He nodded and after they had gathered their blanket and things Henry walked them back to the trail. But as they grew close to the group Henry had left there he noticed one of the men was peeling an orange he’d plucked from an orange tree.
“Sir,” said Henry. “Please don’t pick the fruit.”
As soon as the words were out of his mouth there was a rustling and a woman pulled a fig off a low hanging branch. Henry breathed out in an audible manner.
“Alright, everyone follow me,” he said not bothering to tell them all to lay off the fruit. Now it was just about getting them out of there. As the larger group and the young couple got into their cars and drove away Henry was thinking about how best to deal with this situation. Surely he could make it clear to people that the fruit wasn’t for them. If you went to a ballet you didn’t jump onto the stage to contribute. If you admired a painting you didn’t take out a brush and try to improve it. The oasis was just as much a piece of art–he just had to make that clear.
But then the cameras arrived. Photographers shooting for National Geographic came with the largest lenses Henry had ever seen. Some photographers stayed awake all night for a chance to see the great cats that would prowl the small wood at night. On some days painters would arrive and spend the daylight hours on impressionist works in the style of Monet. While Kino worked the land during the day, Henry walked about asking people to stay on the trail, not to pet or feed the animals, and to stay out of the pond, as it wasn’t meant for swimming. A local news broadcast took interest and came to speak with Kino. The old man wanted nothing to do with them, so Henry spoke with them instead.
“What made you want to make an oasis?” asked the news woman, shoving a microphone in Henry’s face.
“My mother,” said Henry. “She taught me how to garden, and then Kino showed me how to work the land, to live off the land, to treat the land the same way it treats us, with nourishment and respect.”
“But how is this possible? How did you do it?”
Henry thought. Kino had never put a word to it. “It is about nourishing the earth. Kino should be given credit for his hard work, but we do this thing together.”
“Well, Henry,” said the woman with the microphone, “I don’t mind telling you that some people would pay a pretty penny for your services.”