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“Yes, Marc, it’s really, really, a true story”: The Terrifying Tale of Sheep Rock

“It’s a terrifying tale,” I let slip as I watched the five boys scoot closer to the edge of a boulder which they had ascended, pinecones and leaves flying at each other on the way up. “I don’t know if you boys can handle it.”

They rose to the bait easily with shouts of bravery. Ha! That’s a clever trick, I thought. Redirect, redirect.

“Well, if you’re sure…?”

Whoops and hollers.

“Okay, but you have to come over here and sit under this particular rock. Honey, show ’em.”

My son scampered over to a much bigger boulder and sat with back to an alcove, rock leaning out over his head. His four birthday party guests gathered next to him.

“First off, I tell you that this is an absolutely TRUE story. I can prove it, too. This REALLY happened.”

Marc, the mischievous one of the group, the one my son idolizes (of course), expressed his doubt. He is very clever and sees my face. I launch into the tale anyway, enlisting the boys’ help for sound effects at the appropriate time.

In brief, and without sound effects, here is the tale: A very long time ago, about 100 years or so, a farmer lost some sheep in the terrain that is now the local State Forest. A brutal nor’easter blizzard descended on the region, and the sheep were presumed dead. After the snow stopped, however, they were found huddled together — alive — in the alcove of a huge rock that had sheltered them from the northeasterly wind. To this day the spot is called Sheep Rock.

Not exactly terrifying? Of course not. But it got them to stop throwing pine needles and pinecones at each other and climbing on a dangerous rock, and I didn’t even have to tell them to get down. I did, to my credit, make the interruption worth their while, I think. There were FIVE sheep huddled right where the 5 boys were sitting (and I made them bleat at the end, which was much more entertaining for me than their hollering!) And the farmer’s name, which I admiitted not knowing, was Farmer Smith, Elmer, Smith, that is. He had a TEN year old boy named Fudd, who was the one to discover the sheep under the rock. Etcetera…

Ah, let ’em climb and holler, you say? I did. Believe me, that was not something I expected to be able to stop. No, I just wanted to have a bit of storytelling fun with the boys, too. One boy got a real kick out of taking pictures of me while I was telling the story with my wildly gesticulating hands and crazy faces. (I may live to regret that!) We got cheap (75 cents each at Discount Madness) reusable 35 mm cameras for the kids as party favors, and they brought them on the hike. My son didn’t think the boys would want to take pictures, but all but one snapped away.

Thus ends the double-digits birthday week. Not exactly ten days of celebrating, but nearly so! To recap: (1) Birthday party at indoor playground with younger friends who played an imagination game the kids made up last year: the DRAGON GAME. Cake shaped like a dragon head. (2) Attended Chinese acrobat performance with one special friend and went out for pizza afterwards. (3) Birthday itself fell mid-week, and we went to TGIF’s, and I was thrilled to discover a pretty Weight Watcher’s friendly menu. Son got ten gifts from us. Excessive? You judge: nail clippers, new mittens, toe socks, a humorous shirt, three books, playdough, fishing rod and reel. Biggest hit: toe socks. I finally got him to take them off after four days (he kept fishing them out of the laundry and putting them back on!)

Finally, (4) a low-tech hike in the woods with four other boys. Storytelling, rock-climbing, pinecone war, quicksand stick sinking at the swamp. Cake with “real” rocks (ok, jelly bean rocks, but they looked real) and a graham crack path lined with self lighting candles (paper links them all together, and you just light one end). No gifts. Party-goes donated money to help our son buy a llama for a family in Peru through Heifer International. Collected just enough to reach that goal. He is so proud.

I’m blathering on, I suspect. So I’ll end with this one thought. Stories are powerful. I honestly had my doubts that the boys would sit still for my Sheep Rock story. But there’s something deep inside us, I believe, hard-wired into us as human beings, that draws us to story. At the end, when I showed them the unnoticed carving of the words “Sheep Rock…etc.” high above their heads, they were amazed that the story was, indeed, true.

On the way home, as three of the boys, including my son, carried home an immense log, I overheard my son telling his friends, “See that red house up ahead on the right? It’s haunted. Nobody lives there, but sometimes smoke comes out of the chimney” As I walked past them, I added, “That’s true. Absolutely true.”

2 Responses

  1. Great post. You really have a way with telling a story.

    The “terrifying tale” sounds pretty good 🙂

  2. Thanks! It was fun for me, at least 🙂

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