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Once upon a time there was a little grape stem.

She was so glad to be alive.

She drank water and minerals from the soil and grew and grew.

She was young and strong and could manage quite well... All by Herself But the wind was cruel, the rain was harsh, and the snow was not one bit understanding.

The little grape stem experienced pain.

She grew weak and was suffering.

"It would be so easy to stop trying to grow, To stop trying to live," thought the little stem.

She felt so sad and alone.

The winter was long, and she was weary.

But then the little stem heard a voice.

It was another grape stem calling out to her... "Here, reach out, hang on to me."

But the little stem hesitated. ""What would this mean?"" she wondered.

For you see, the little stem had always managed quite well... All by herself.

Then ever so cautiously, she reached out toward the other grape stem.

"See, I can help you," it said. "Just wind your tendrils about me, and I will help you lift your head."

The little stem trusted.

Suddenly, she could stand straight again. The wind came...and the rain...and the snow.

When it came, the little stem was clinging to many other stems.

Although the stems were swayed by the wind, and frozen by the snow, they stood strongly united to each other.

In their quiet strength, they could smile and grow.

Johnnie Oakes 11/7/03