We live in the country. Sometimes it’s terrific, like when we play ball as a family in the front field or have friends over for do-it-yourself fireworks on the 4th of July. Other times it’s not so great. Like when one of our pet goats becomes dinner for bobcats and scavengers.
Messy things happen in the country. Brutal things.
When my kids were younger, we read a couple funny books about goats. One of them, Gregory, the Terrible Eater, was about a young goat who would rather eat nutritious people food than the junkyard trash his parents forced on him. And the other one – a Norwegian fairy tale called The Three Billy Goats Gruff — is a classic, though I would probably categorize it as children’s horror.
“Well, come along! I’ve got two spears,
And I’ll poke your eyeballs out at your ears;
I’ve got besides two curling-stones,
And I’ll crush you to bits, body and bones.”
That was what the big billy goat said. And then he flew at the troll, and poked his eyes out with his horns… and after that he went up to the hillside. There the billy goats got so fat they were scarcely able to walk home again.
(Yes, I read this out loud to my young children. I will completely understand if you unsubscribe from this blog and call CPS.)
Our billy goat, however, was not so lucky. By the time we found him in the back woods, nature had mostly taken care of his bits, body and bones.
Life is brutal.
As writers, we cannot shy away from the dark realities of life. Sometimes we need to write fun pieces like Gregory, the Terrible Eater. Truth can be found in this kind of humor, especially for parents of picky eaters.
But often we need to write more like The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Because even children can sense trolls and bobcats under the bridge, waiting to gobble us up.
“Snip, snap, snout.
This tale’s told out.”