True statement: Getting down the hill is much easier than getting back up.
However, when it’s muddy and slippery and rocks tip just a little under your feet, you’re still pretty glad to reach the creek at the bottom and stick your toes in the cool flow and rest up for the return journey.
This has all the makings of a wonderful metaphor, clearly, but for today we’re just stick to what actually happened.
Lucy: How can Papi walk so much faster than the rest of us on the rocks?
Me: Because he’s sure-footed. That’s why they call him Papi Goatfoot.
Lucy: Oh! Goat foot because goats never fall down on the mountain?
Lucy: It’s like the story of the wise old goat.
Me: I don’t think I know that one. How does it go?
Lucy: Okay. Well. Once there was a rabbit. And, um, it was up on a mountain and it went up to the edge of a big cliff and wanted to go down. It said, “I could just jump off here.” But the wise goat said, “You shouldn’t do that. Go down this other way.” But the rabbit didn’t listen. It jumped off anyway. And then the goat went around and down a little ways to where there were some stairs. It climbed down, and when it got to the bottom, there was the rabbit, dead from the long fall.
Me: Wow. That rabbit really should have listened to the wise goat.
Nate: Even though they have such big ears, rabbits never listen. They are the most ironic of animals.
Lucy: True. Now you make up a story, Papi.
True Statement: Lucy’s stories are a hard act to follow.
I mean, a wise old goat and a dead rabbit. Have the mental image? Now you go. Story. Now.
Nate: Once upon a time there was a wide-mouthed froggy.
I’m going to assume you all know the story of the wide-mouthed frog. If not, click here.
Ellie, who is ten and always gets a joke, rolled her eyes. Lucy, who was expecting an ending to a story and not a punchline, puzzled over that one for a while. By now, we were climbing the hill, though. It is a steep hill.
True Statement: Climbing a steep hill does not help you puzzle through things clearly.
Lucy: Okay, Mommy, your turn. Tell a story.
Me: Um, pant, pant, um… Once upon a time there was a pig.
I’m not typing out that whole story. Let’s just say it wandered around and the animals did not appreciate the pig’s whining and the pig dies at the end.
True Statement: Climbing a steep hill tends to make you think about death more than you normally would.
Lucy: Let’s take a rest. Look, Gramma’s down there resting. Gramma! You want to tell a story now?
Gramma: Not while I’m climbing.
Lucy: Okay, I’ll go again. Once upon a time there was a cow…
I’m not going to lie. The cow died at the end, too. On the bright side, we were much closer to the top by the time of its demise.
Lucy: I need another rest. Look! Gramma is resting again, too.
Ellie: It’s okay, Gramma. I used to always be the last one up, too. I had to rest a lot.
Me: I guess you got a lot stronger this year.
Ellie: I think I was just distracted by the stories.
True Statement: There’s nothing like a story to take your mind off the huge hills you have to climb.
Equally True Statement: You should never believe me when I say I’m not going to turn something into a metaphor.
The last part of the hill is the steepest. No one told a story. Lucy did find the breath to comment, however.
Lucy: All our stories today were about animals.
Me: I guess some days are just like that.
True Statement: I can’t focus on catching my breath and also come up with interesting things to say.
Me: A bunch of the animals died, too.
Yes, I’m unoriginal and morbid while climbing.
Lucy: Well, that’s just life. Especially for animals. I mean, you never hear about someone killing a person so they can eat them. But animals…
True Statement: My daughter may also be morbid, but she has no problem coming up with interesting things to say while climbing.
Me: Oh look! We’re at the top!
Lucy: My legs hurt. Why aren’t we at the car?
Me: Not far now! And remember what happened to the pig who whined too much in the woods.
Lucy: If you tooK me up by the road and let someone take me, they wouldn’t take me to a farm and eat me, they would take me to an orphanage.
Me: True. So, moral of the story: don’t whine in the woods.
Lucy: No, that’s the opposite of what I said. If you carried me to the road, I would be in a car.
True Statement: You always tell stories at your own risk. There’s no controlling what conclusions your listeners will draw.
Equally True Statement: That’s why I’m never going to stop.