To the editor:
An author, Ursula Le Guin, wrote, “Story is our only boat for sailing on the river of time.” She may have referred to time travel, as in going back centuries, but today I write about going back only to my childhood. Porter, my father, told me just two bedtime stories.
This one was always first. A 14-year-old boy was walking down a long road when he became hungry. He knocked on the door of the first house he saw and asked if he could have something to eat. “Why, yes,” said the farmer’s wife.
“There’s a woodpile over there. You can work on chopping while I fix you something.” At this point, Porter would take out his pocket watch, open it and let me take it, so I could hear the boy chopping wood.
After the boy ate, the farmer told him he could stay the night. He had left home, so he stayed – and stayed. The couple had a daughter about his age and after a few years, they got married. They had a family of 14, seven boys and seven girls, and lived happily ever after.
The second story was about a dog who went into a butcher shop, where the butcher gave him a big bone with meat on it. The dog headed home, holding onto the bone. Along the way he had to cross a bridge, but instead of continuing straight to the other side, he paused to look over the edge, and saw another dog down below holding a bone bigger than his. Dropping his own, he jumped into the water to get the bigger one.
This second story, as I would learn later on, was an Aesop’s fable. Poor dumb dog, dismal ending. The first story was better. With a ticking pocket watch and a child’s imagination revisited, I can still see that boy chopping wood. Can you?