Life Experience and Wisdom: A Peasant Woman’s Peppers

Red, yellow, and green peppers sitting in a basket.
It seemed that the peasant woman was the only person who didn't divide her peppers into two piles. (Image: mistyhamel0 via Pixabay)

There is a farmer’s market every day in China — if farmers or people from a village have more produce than their family can eat, they often sell the excess, such as peppers, at the market. One day, a housewife took a break from her daily routine and decided to visit the local farmers market.

She went up to a woman selling peppers and noticed that people often asked her whether they were hot or not. However, half of the buyers would walk away no matter how the woman responded. So the solution for the seller was to divide them into two piles: One for hot peppers and one for mild.

The housewife next walked over to another woman who appeared to be a poorly educated peasant farmer. Unlike the woman she met earlier, this woman spread her peppers all over the table. The housewife asked her: “Why don’t you divide them into two piles as did the lady in the other stall?” She just smiled and shook her head.

An outdoor vegetable market in Vietnam.
The housewife walked over to another woman who appeared to be a poorly educated farmer. (Image: Hecke01 via Dreamstime)

When customers came by and asked her about the peppers, the farmer said:

“The dark ones are hotter.”

The peasant farmer used her wisdom to sell her peppers

After hearing this, the customers did their buying and left happily. On that particular day, it just so happened that most people selected the lighter-colored ones over the dark ones. The housewife said to her: “You better divide your peppers into two piles, or you may have trouble.” The farmer smiled and replied: “There is no need to do that.”

When more customers arrived and inquired about her peppers, she answered with confidence:

“The long peppers are hotter than the short ones.”

Eventually, only dark, short ones remained on the table. The housewife thought about what the woman might say to her customers now that only short dark ones remained on the table. When a customer arrived and asked the woman about them, she said to him:

A woman seated on a stool cuts up dried red hot chili peppers in front of her farmhouse home in Pengzhou, Sichuan province, China.
Eventually, only the dark short peppers remained. (Image: Lei Xu via Dreamstime)

“The tough ones are hotter, and the soft ones are milder.”

Of course, most were getting soft after sitting under the hot sun all day.

When the farmer packed up her stand to get ready to leave, she told the housewife:

“Dividing the peppers into two piles is everyone’s solution, but only I knew the answer to what I did today.”

The housewife was surprised by her creativity and flexibility. She realized that while you can gain wisdom from books, living only according to books may not be the best solution. Life is creative and flexible, so you must live accordingly.

Translated by Yi Ming

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