I haven’t done a tall tale for a while, but while I was looking for wintry stories, I found this one about Paul Bunyan’s ox, Babe. It’s from AmericanFolklore.net. I didn’t remember that Paul Bunyan found him during the winter, a winter “so cold that all the geese flew backward and all the fish moved south and even the snow turned blue. Late at night, it got so frigid that all spoken words froze solid before they could be heard. People had to wait until sunup to find out what folks were talking about the night before.”
Paul Bunyan went out walking in the woods one day during that Winter of the Blue Snow. He was knee-deep in blue snow when he heard a funny sound between a bleat and a snort. Looking down, he saw a teeny-tiny baby blue ox hopping about in the snow and snorting with rage because he was too short to see over the drifts.
Paul Bunyan nursed the little critter back to health, but it never lost the blue color that the snow had stained it, so Paul called him Babe the Blue Ox. Any animal raised in Paul Bunyan’s camp tended to grow to massive proportions, and Babe was no exception. He grew so big that 42 axe handles plus a plug of tobacco could fit between his eyes and it took a murder of crows a whole day to fly from one horn to the other. He had to scratch his itches on cliffs and ate a ton of grain for lunch alone.
Babe could pull anything so he straightened all the logging roads and hauled logs. Babe hated working in summer, so Paul painted all the logging roads white to keep him working after the spring thaw.
The story goes on to tell how Babe meets Bessie the Yeller Cow and it was love at first sight.
I may not love winter as much as Babe, but I do love tall tales though. They are so thoroughly American.
Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.