Silver Skate Festival

Talking to the River

A Silver Skate Festival Folk Trail Story

By Charlie Peters with Elizabeth Hobbs

There once was a child who grew up in a beautiful land. There were trees. There were beautiful, whimsical artworks created by the child’s parents. And most importantly there was a lovely creek that ran through the heart of the land.

The creek was the pride and joy of the community. The child’s father, so the stories went, had come to this place from a long way away. When he arrived, the whole place was covered in a deep, deep lake. 

The only thing the father had brought with him had been a pretty little bridge from the town where he was born. 

“I want to settle here” the father had said, “but bridges don’t go over lakes. Lakes are too big!” 

So the child’s father set about learning how to talk to the lake, how to speak to it in its language. At long last, the father could ask the lake to make itself smaller so he could make use of his bridge. 

The lake obliged. It shrank and shrank until it became the pretty creek that the child had grown up playing beside.

The child loved the story of how their father had learned to talk to the lake. They asked their father to tell the story almost every night at bedtime. 

All was well in the child’s world.

All was well, that is, until the child noticed something odd. Playing in the creek bed day after day, season after season, and year after year as they grew up, the child noticed that each spring when the snow melted, the creek was smaller than the year before. 

The child went to their Father and asked about the creek. 

“Father,” said the child, “The creek is getting smaller and smaller and I’m afraid that after the snow melts this year there won’t be a creek left at all! Then what would we do?”

“It’s getting smaller?” Asked the father. “I never noticed. Whenever I’m by the creek all I can do is stare at the pretty little bridge I love so much. I never even notice the water.”

“Father, it is getting smaller,” said the child. “You know how to speak to the creek. Years ago you asked it to change itself and it did. Would you speak to the creek and ask it to grow again? Maybe even back into a lake? We can always move the bridge. And we desperately need the water.”

“Um…” said the father, “I can’t do that. The only thing I learned how to say to the creek was ‘become smaller’ – I have no idea how to ask it to become bigger again.” 

The child was scared. If all their father could say to the creek was “become smaller,” how would they ever get the creek to stop shrinking? 

The child knew it was up to them to learn to speak to the creek – and this time they would learn the whole language, not just one phrase. The child resolved to learn how to have a conversation with the creek, not just tell it what to do. The child would ask the creek if it would become a lake again but never order it to do so. The child wondered for the first time: after all these years of being told to be smaller, how must the creek feel? After all, it was a creek that had once been a lake.  

This story isn’t over. I don’t know how it ends. Will the child learn to speak to the creek? More importantly, will the child learn to listen deeply and to understand? What will become of the child, the father, and the creek? 

What do you think? 

The End

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