By Robin Weaver
Okay, this month's theme is "out of the mouths of babes." Or at least it was when I created the first draft of this piece. I might be the only person blogging about babes, but you know I still have to put my spin on the topic. So, I thought I’d talk about a big, big babe—Babe, the Blue Ox.
As a child, the legends of Paul Bunyan were my absolute favorite tails, err tales. The stories were the epitome of tall tales, and my early reading preference might explain my life-long love for the ridiculous. According to the legend, when Paul was born, he was so big it took five storks to deliver him; the Mississippi River was created because a tank of water Paul carried sprang a leak; and, as an adult, the pipe he used was so huge, he needed a shovel to pack in his tobacco (obviously, the surgeon general will have something to say about that).
But still… You can’t make this stuff up. Well, okay, someone did, but you see what I mean. So where does Babe come in? Obviously, a man the size of Paul Bunyan can’t simply have a dog, right? So, when Mr. B spots a spunky little ox frolicking in the snow, he just has to take him home.
Side note: oxen are working animals, typically castrated bulls, even though they can also be cows. Ignore the confusion and suffice it to say: it’s pretty much impossible to find a baby one. But let’s not go down that cattle trail. We are talking about an animal snacked on thirty bales of hay, wire and all. According to the tales, it took six men with pick axes to floss Babe’s teeth.
The best part (just my opinion, but it should be yours 😊) is Bessie! Babe caught a glimpse of a pretty yeller calf daintily chewing her cud, and…hold the milking machines! We got us a case of love at first sight, Babe refused to work until Paul purchased Bessie. Uh-oh…Bessie isn’t a free heifer. Guess that’s a story for another day.
Bessie grew to the appropriate size to be Babe’s mate (again, I say mate, ignoring that castration thing). Bessie was so big, her long yellow eyelashes tickled the lumberjacks standing on the other end of camp when she blinked. And yes, that cowhide did make her butt look big.
A big blue ox and his feisty little cow with yellow lashes—too cute, huh? So why aren’t these tales still in favor? Why isn’t there a Disney animated feature or a My Little Ox action figure?
Probably because the Ikea generation doesn’t understand lumberjacks. Logging is a thing of days gone by. Heck, there might not even be a 2x4 in that ginaormous Ikea maze.
Even so, the tales of Paul Bunyan are worth another look. Here’s a link to a cute story that will appeal to your children and to us kids-at-heart. http://americanfolklore.net/folklore/2010/07/babe_the_blue_ox.html
In the meantime, happy logging.