The Dragon of Hardwick

My family has eagerly been awaiting this day. Weeks of imagining, planning, and packing.

Everyday being asked by three sticky faces “Is today the day?”

We are currently propelling ourselves forward headed to the sweet Green Mountains. Our beloved home that we no longer reside in. It will surely be bittersweet as we steep ourselves in the betrayal and trauma of the expulsion from our previous home.

And yet we will be wrapped in the loving arms of family, surrounded by the beauty of nature, eating some of the nations best food, and taking a moment to breath.

In the excitement of this week my son asked me to tell him a story that I had made up about a dragon that terrorized the valley we used to reside in. It came to me one morning while we were waiting for pancakes from a local diner. The inspiration being an origami crane sitting atop a miniature version of the dinner and a table of local good ‘ol boys getting their grub on next to us.

Now not every story I conjure up is a winner. What I like about this one is that it requires a call to action, bravery, creative problem solving, inviting your oppressor to see your point of view rather than attacking them, imagine what it is like to not have your basic needs met, and that you can not ignore a problem. Lots of opportunity for awesome conversations that can gently expand a little ones world view and compassion.

So as a gift to you all on my way to vacation, I will bequeath to you The Dragon of Hardwick.

Once upon a time, not so long ago there was a dragon that pillaged our fine valley. It was known as the dragon of Hardwick and it was feared by all the people of the land.

It always went the same way, the dragon would sleep for long periods of time. Then it would wake ferociously hungry and pillage the farms in all directions. It would return back to its cave on the banks of the Lamoile River to count its gold till it fell back to sleep.

For the first hundred years or so this was a minor inconvenience. Sure the farmers lost some of their livestock, but they still had enough to make a profit and feed their families. Plus who REALY wants to confront a dragon? So they continued as though nothing was wrong.

As the years went on and the dragon got bigger and older it ate more and more when it woke up. Within another hundred years there was only enough food left for the families to live off of. And soon enough their was not even enough food for the people in the valley. The people lived in fear and hunger.

At which point the council of farmers in the region called an emergency meeting. The purpose was to come up with a way to deal with the dragon before the whole region needed to relocate to an area not regularly pillaged by a fire breathing dragon.

So their they were a motley crew clad in carharts and greasy hands. The salt of the earth so to say. The elected officials sat at a table in the front trying to call order to the meeting, as everyone was shouting out in anger and frustration.

In the midst of the chaos one person stood up and said in a loud voice “I will slay the dragon and rid this region of it’s plight.” and then made their had into a fist and banged their chest.

The room fell silent, and then started to cheer, lifting their new hero up in a chair and carrying them outside to prepare for the pending battle.

They were brought their Kevlar boots, Kevlar chaps, a Kevlar vest, helmet with eye protection, and their gassed up chain saw. The modern day night set off up they river with much fanfare behind them.

They walked to the entrance of the cave and the reality if the situation started to set in. Their knees were shaking and as they stumbled through the darkness of the cave they stumbled over a big rock. This caused a cascade of rocks which woke the slumbering dragon. Our hero heard the dragon beginning to move on its pile of gold stretching and yawning. That was enough for them and they hightailed it all the way back to town, ran right back to the council of farmers and proclaimed “We are going to need another plan.”

At this point instant chaos ensued. The president of the council became horse from trying to call the patrons to order.

Then from the back of the room a wise elder who had said nothing till this point stood up. Everyone became silent, because when you rarely talk the words you do share carry more meaning.

She said “What if the dragon was a farmer? What if we taught the dragon how to farm?”

There were some grumbles and mumbles from the crowd. These quickly turned to head nods, and the wise elder continued.

“We could each donate one animal to the dragon and then help them set up pastures and tend to the animals rather than losing everything over and over.”

They took a vote and the majority was in favor or the plan. It was decided that only those who supported the plan would donate an animal to avoid resentment and further tension in the valley.

So the next day a parade of farmers and animals made their way up the river bank, with the wise elder in the lead. You can imagine how funny this looked trying to herd chickens, goats, cows, horses, llamas, and pigs, up the river. In fact they made such a ruckus that before they even got to the mouth of the cave they had woke the dragon, and he was outside blowing smoke out his nostrils.

“How kind of you to bring me my breakfast” he said as he saw the group coming towards him.

The wise elder with love in her heart stepped forward and spoke to the dragon in a calm voice “ These animals are not for eating. We would like to give you these animals and help you start you own farm.”

The dragon looked at her as perplexed as a dragon can possible look.

The elder continued to kindly explain how the dragon had been essentially stealing their food, and how the families in the valley no longer had enough food to eat.

When the dragon heard this a single tear fell from his eye.

“I am so sorry. I never knew that what I was doing was hurting others. I was doing as I had been taught by father, and he taught by his father. I want to make this right. May I pay you from my pile of gold for the things I have taken?”

After pulling out payment for every family family he had taken from (at full market value of course) he rose to his full height and bowed to the crowd of farmers and animals. Saying “I would be honored to become a farmer and I look forward to working together in the years to come.”

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