The Bamboo Shoots




hoe decay bamboo
soil row (3) compost
spade loosen shoot (3)
high remain waste time
runt harvest ought to
cover still (2) occasionally
rapid effort incredible
root portion extensive
solid support network
base mulch tend (2)


Preparing the Soil

Tao Yan carefully dug and loosened the ground in his yard with a spade and hoe. He added some compost of decayed leaves and mixed it with the soil.

Then he planted many rows of bamboo shoots, covered the based with mulch and watered them.

Each was about 15 centimeters high.



Watering the Shoots

The next day, he watered the shoots again.

This went on day after day, week after week, month after month.

After a year, however, the bamboo shoots remained the same height.

The Neighbor

Tao’s neighbor came by one day while he was watering his bamboo.

“Why are you caring for them?” he asked Tao. “You are wasting your time and effort; those are just runts. You ought to just harvest and eat them.”

But Tao just said they were his pets. He kept watering them and occasionally adding compost.

No Change

After the second year, the bamboo shoots still looked the same — nothing had changed.
Tao kept watering and tending them.

Three years went by . . . then four years.

And the shoots remained the same as they had when he first planted them.

By this time, the whole village knew about Tao and his bamboo shoots. “What a fool,” they said to each other.

The Fifth Year

Then one day in the fifth year, the bamboo shoots began growing — many centimeters a day! And in just five weeks, then went from 15 centimeters — to 27.5 meters tall!

Tao’s neighbor came by. “Wow! That’s incredible! I can’t believe it! Your bamboo grew so tall in just FIVE weeks!”
“In actuality it took five years,” said Tao.

He explained how before the bamboo can grow 27.5 meters, it has to develop an extensive and solid network of roots over a five-year period in order to support the upper portion.



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1. What did Tao Yan do in the beginning?

2. After he planted the bamboo shoots, he forgot about them and did nothing. Is this right or wrong?

3. The bamboo grew gradually and steadily over the years. True or false?

4. Did Tao’s neighbor encourage and support him?

5. What happened in the end?

6. Was Tao very surprised like his neighbors?

7. This was an article from a newspaper. Is this correct or incorrect?
A. Is there a moral or lesson of this story?

B. The same ideas literally apply to people (children, adolescents, teens, adults). Yes or no?

C. Do you know of any people like the bamboo, figuratively, in terms of their studies, career, business?

D. I know some businesses like the bamboo. True or false?

E. What should people do? How should they feel?

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