Paul Bunyan in "Wicked Winter"
A folktale with Babe the Blue Ox and Lucy the Purple Cow!
Paul Bunyan In
THE YEAR OF THE TWO WINTERS
Forceful FellerPaul Bunyan was a giant of a man, the greatest lumberjack the world has ever seen.
He was as strong as a tornado and had twice as much gumption.
From the time Paul was a giant baby, folk knew he was special.
By the time he was a kid, he was as tall as a hemlock tree. He would eat four dozen eggs for breakfast, and his flapjacks used so much milk that he had to get the giant purple cow Lucy to provide it. I never saw a purple cow… but Paul Bunyan had one.
This story takes place in the woods in autumn.
It starts long before Paul Bunyan made the world’s biggest flapjack… and before he met his lifelong best friend.
CRAZY CUTTERSBy the time Paul Bunyan was a young man, he was running his own logging camp.
Everybody in America needed lumber to build houses, to make paper for books, and for flagpoles to hoist their flags.
Paul loved turning trees into lumber and he could fell seven in one blow of his axe. His logging team was called the Seven Axemen – each was over six feet tall sitting down and they were all called “Elmer” – even the women! Instead of holding the axe, the Elmers tied rope to the handles and twirled the blades around them like a circular saw.
FALL FLUNow everybody knows it can get cold in the winter, but this is the story of the Year of the Two Winters.
First there was the Winter of the Blue Snow followed by the Wicked Winter, and it was the strangest year Paul Bunyan ever saw.
It was also one of the best, for it was in the Year of the Two Winters that he found someone pretty magical.
The strangest thing about the Year of the Two Winters was that Paul almost didn’t see it!
He had planned to go south, because that year when autumn turned cold, Paul came down with a giant-sized case of the flu.
ROUND RIVERPaul knew the winter was going to get bad, so as soon as he was well enough, he began to build a boat to travel to warmer climes. He gathered all his friends: the Elmers, Ole Olafson the blacksmith, Sourdough Sam and Biscuit Slim the camp’s cooks, the accountant Johnny Inkslinger, the crewmen Ivan and Sergei, and Brimstone Bill, the crew foreman. Even Lucy the purple cow climbed aboard.
The boat headed down the river. Before long, everyone began to notice the same trees and the same hills and the same rocks going by. They saw the same islands and the same animals again and again. They even kept passing the place they left! Paul realized that the river they were on must be round! He leapt out of the boat and dug up the center of the river and threw the earth westwards. Today the pile of earth that he made is called Mount Rainier and the river is called Round Lake. But the friends never did make it south for a holiday!
STRANGE SNOWSince they couldn’t go south, Paul’s friends settled back into camp, but Paul was restless.
Although Paul loved his work and his friends dearly, he often found himself feeling lonely and wandering through the forests.
He was the only person or creature he knew of his size.
One winter evening, he found himself staring across the Mississippi River, trying to see if he could find the Northern Lights. A strange wind began blowing in from the North.
The wind smelled unusual, like cold cotton candy. Soon it began to snow, but this snow was different. This snow was blue, blue like blue bubblegum ice cream. Paul was amazed.
BABY BLUEPaul couldn’t believe that it was snowing blue snow!
He began to gallop through the dollops and drifts of baby blue. Suddenly, he smashed into a mountainside. “There was no mountain there before”, he thought as he climbed over it. Just then he heard a strange sound, like someone was saying “blue, blue”…
He noticed that a pair of blue ears was sticking out of each side of the mountain. He grabbed them and pulled. Inside the giant mound of blue snow was a shivering baby blue ox! He took the baby ox back to camp. The morning after the blue snow, when Paul awoke, the ox had eaten all the hay out of his mattress – and his best slippers!
The big baby ox nuzzled his neck. Paul looked into the ox’s eyes and proclaimed that they would be the best of friends. Paul named the ox “Babe.”
SEASON’S CELEBRATIONSIn the middle of the Winter of the Blue Snow, it was holiday time. You know Paul Bunyan – no matter how cold the weather gets, there’s always time for a celebration! The camp got together and stitched a giant Santa suit for Paul out of his red blanket. Paul carved an antler for Babe out of an oak tree. The Axemen found the tallest tree and decorated it with a star made of bread baked by Biscuit Slim. Sourdough Sam cooked up a Christmas feast. It was the biggest and best party ever – Paul was Santa for Christmas, the Axemen lit the Hanukkah candles, Brimstone Bill led the Kwanzaa celebration, and Ivan and Sergei held Orthodox Christmas in January. Babe just mooed.
WICKED WINTERAfter the holidays, everyone was waiting for spring to arrive and the plants to grow again. But this year a second winter came, and it was far worse than the first! Instead of blue snow, there was a freezing ice storm! The land, the water, and even the air were covered in a deadly sheet of frozen ice. The camp was stuck for the winter, and no supplies could get in or out. It got so cold that the Axemen all grew full-length beards to keep warm – even the women! Paul Bunyan got so cold he made a hat out of a sleeping grizzly bear and shoved sheep up his sleeves for lining. Sourdough Sam had no flour left for Flapjacks and he had to boil everybody’s boots! They ate soup from the broth, and used the leather to make boot jerky.
BRIMSTONE BILLBrimstone Bill was the foreman of Paul’s camp. He was an old lumberjack who was known for telling tall tales. Brimstone Bill was in the middle of telling the crew a whopper about the time he single-handedly defeated a grizzly bear and a pack of wolves at the same time, when suddenly the ice storm blew in. Now, this storm was so cold that it could freeze thoughts in your head and freeze the worlds coming out of your mouth into solid ice. Suddenly, Johnny Inkslinger called for Paul to come quick. As called the words, they fell onto the snow with a soft patter. Paul strode over to brimstone Bill. Brimstone Bill had been telling such a yarn that there was over four feet of ice around him! “Why”, laughed Paul Bunyan, “He’s an icicle! Or should a say a Bill-sicle? Or should I say a bicycle?” They all laughed, the tinkle of ice cubes in a glass.
LUCY LOOKSEveryone was terribly hungry in the camp. You might be thinking, couldn’t they get milk and cheese from Lucy the Purple Cow? Paul realized that she could not produce a drop of milk in the winter because there is no grass. The ground was covered in ice, ice as white as the backside of a ghost. Paul thought a spell. Then he thought some more. He got up and went to see the camp optometrist Eyeball Ellie, and asked her to make a giant pair of glasses with lenses as green as grass. Paul placed the glasses on the end of Lucy’s nose. Now that she saw grass on the ground, Lucy began to moo. Milk was coming! The crew cheered and ran under her udders with buckets, waiting for the sweet splash of milk.
But instead, they heard… a thud. The wicked winter was so cold, the milk fell into the bucket as ice cream!
JOHNNY’S JOTTINGSJohnny Inkslinger was the accountant, who made sure everybody got paid and that Camp Paul Bunyan paid the government the taxes it owed on the money it made. In short, he was Paul’s bookkeeper, pencil pusher, and numbers cruncher. Johnny realized that with the extreme cold, he was using more ink to make a mark, and without new supplies he would soon run out. He immediately set out to tell Paul of this problem. Paul just smiled a wry smile and told him not to dot his i’s or cross his t’s until spring.
SPECTAULAR SPRINGThe winter was so wicked that spring did not arrive until July!
Johnny was just telling Paul that he had finally run out of ink, when the sun came out full force, and spring arrived with a bang. Just as Johnny was turning away, there was a great crashing and thundering of voices. Brimstone Bill’s words had thawed out, and they burst through the air like firecrackers. Finally, everybody heard the end of his story… plus a whole lot of cussing as well!
Paul cut all the beards of the Seven Axemen with one blow of his trusty axe. Their whiskers were stacked like hay and all the camp crew got new pillows.
FRIENDS FOREVERThere was so much blue snow and ice that when it melted all the rivers swelled up and broke their banks. Every dip in the ground became a puddle, and every puddle became a pond. It was muddy and messy right through summer, but Paul and Babe were so glad to be out in the sun that they took a long walk. As they walked together all the way across the state, Paul and Babe's heavy footprints created Minnesota's 10,000 lakes.
Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox met in the Winter of the Blue Snow, and they survived the Wicked Winter. They became best friends and partners in adventure for the rest of their long, long lives.