2003-07-30 - 3:10 p.m.
As a child I was blessed with what tired parents and overworked educators like to call an overactive imagination. I saw escaped convicts hiding in the early morning fog. I pretended I was a good witch, or a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader*, or a diner waitress - often all in the same day. Growing up in our tiny town of 250 meant that there were few other kids around. Books were my best friends. Without being pressed, my parents can detail the horrendous library fines racked up when I dropped Laura Ingalls Wilder's Farmer Boy into the bathtub. It was almost impossible for them to stop me from reading. During my two-week bout with chicken pox, I consumed no fewer than 25 Trixie Belden books, each purchased for $1.25 by my father at Ben Franklin.
One of my favorite series was Mary Norton's Borrowers. Norton's focus on character development, archaic names and botanical detail caught and held me for many years. My original set, stained by rainstorms and well thumbed, now sits on my living room bookshelf. The Norton book that most affected me, though, was Are All the Giants Dead? I think it's because of this book that I've always seen giants when I look at mountains or rock formations. While Mom drove the 45 minutes to my grammar school, I'd see a huge slumbering shoulder curve down the two-lane road. When I'd slide down a shale face to reach our local swimming spot, I was slipping down a rocky cheek and nose. It's a habit I've never lost.
Last Friday, when I was driving a friend up to meet Art Teacher, I kept catching giants out of the corner of my eye. There was one bumbling across Highway 49 between Nevada City and Grass Valley, headed toward a distant farmhouse. And the week before, when Cec and I headed over to Dillon Beach for a one-day getaway, I snapped the above picture. Tell me that's not a giant's head. Go ahead, try. That is a giant's rocky head as surely as I was born. If you like, I can tell you the giant's name, his family history, what tribe he belongs to, and sing you his native song. Maybe that's my overactive imagination at work. Maybe I should stop reading and re-reading children's books.
I didn't grow up to be a good witch or a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader. I was only a waitress for a few months. But I love knowing that a little bit of child lives inside me, that even as I'm toting a new friend into the California hills, I can wink out the window at a sleeping giant.
*Don't ask. I even had blue pompoms and boots. Oh, the shame!
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