October 26, 2021

#08-144: Paul Bunyan and his Pal Babe

Roadside statues of Paul and Babe in Minnesota

Note: Many traditional jobs have inspired stories about characters like the men (usually men) who worked them. One such examples ifs the lumberjacks' stories of Paul Bunyan.

Get Ready: Do you know any "tall tales"? What do you think most or all tall tales have in common?

Do you remember Pecos Bill? Just as he was the hero of "tall tales" told by cowboys, so the lumberjacks told stories about Paul Bunyan (though many of the best-known elements of Paul's story were written by an advertising man named William Laughead).

The later legends tell us that Paul was so tall that you could see him above the tallest pine trees. Originally, though, he was "only" eight feet (2.5 meters) tall and weighed 300 pounds (136 kg). But we know he had to be much bigger, or how could he do the things he did?

For example, could an eight-foot-tall man drag behind him an ax so big that it created the Grand Canyon? Could the footprints of an eight-foot-tall man romping around with his pet, Babe the Blue ox, create the 10,000 lakes of the state of Minnesota?

Of course not.

Numerous features of the landscape in the northern U.S. and Canada--where lumberjacks cut down trees--were supposed to have been created by Paul and Babe, whether on purpose or by accident due to their sheer size. Instead of sweating to cut down trees, Paul could just sneeze, and an entire mountainside of pines would fall over!

But how did Paul meet Babe? One strange winter, all the snow that fell was blue. One day during that "Winter of the Blue Snow," Paul heard the sound of a distressed animal. When he looked out the front door of his cabin, at first he could see nothing. But then he noticed a pair of ears sticking out of the snow--and they were blue, too!

He went out and grabbed hold of those ears, and started pulling. He pulled and he pulled, and at last out popped a calf! Paul named him Babe, and when he grew up, he was almost as big as a small mountain.

But Babe came in handy. Once the other lumberjacks came to Paul and complained about a mountain road that wound so much and doubled back on itself so tightly that they felt like they were passing themselves going the other way! So Paul tied Babe to one end of the road, and the big ox pulled so hard on it that he pulled that ol' road straight!


Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Bunyan

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. calf
  2. distressed
  3. footprints
  4. handy
  5. lumberjacks
  6. ox
  7. popped
  8. romping
  9. sheer
  10. sweating

  1. jumping around and playing
  2. absolute; complete
  3. perspiring; leaking water from the skin
  4. people who earn money by cutting down trees; loggers
  5. a type of cow
  6. upset; suffering pain
  7. came out suddenly, with a sound
  8. a baby cow (or other animal, mostly wild: camels, whales, elephants, etc.)
  9. useful; convenient
  10. marks left where someone walked

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for October 26, 2021

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. h; 2. f; 3. j; 4. i; 5. d; 6. e; 7. g; 8. a; 9. b; 10. c