Long, long ago a man built a log home high on a small mountain and lived there with his wife, two sons and a daughter. The land was beautiful and lush and the man and his sons planted many vegetables and fruit trees. They lived a simple life. The children adored their father and grew up secure in their mother’s love.
There was a river that formed from the snows at the top the mountain and ran by their log home. As the snows melted each spring, the river swelled and ran down the mountain providing clean water for all the families that lived along it’s banks. Everyone farmed and the whole mountain community shared in a weekly market in the town that lay at the foot of the mountain. They took the extra produce and sold it, at a handsome profit, to the town’s people. They brought their hen’s eggs too and those who raised calves and baby goats found eager buyers. Easy access to water made their farms profitable, despite the hilly lands. Wives loved to decorate their homes with flower boxes and gardens. Children all learned to swim when they were very young. The late afternoon’s summer sunlight dancing on the ripples of the river was often so enticing that the grown ups would quit work early and have parties for neighbors and friends. Every spring there was a big picnic at the log home at the top of the mountain celebrating the fullness of the river.
One summer the father decided to build a dam across the river. He told his boys the water could be harnessed to provide power. He worked hard and to build the dam he brought boulders to the river with his horses. One evening the sun went down and still father had not come home for supper.
His sons found him dead, his head bloodied where it fell against a rock when he slipped. Their grief was enormous and foreign to them. They swore to complete the dam their father started and found that the grief and rage inside themselves fueled their labor. People from down river heard the bad news, came to help the wife and stayed to give the sons a hand. That year at the spring picnic the families all helped the sons fulfill the father’s vision and bent their backs to the labor of finishing the dam. Everyone, young and old, brought a rock to add. Soon a lake began to form above the dam. Later that year the people had to dig wells and there was little excess produce to take to market.
It became a custom at the spring picnic for every person to carry a rock to the dam. A new generation came along and the story of the man’s accidental death was no longer retold. Placing a rock at the dam became a ritual, a part of the community picnic each year that no one questioned.
One early spring night the man’s great great grand daughter had a dream and in her dream saw a vision. She woke and walked out to the dam under a full moon. Her dream had told her exactly which rock to loosen. She wiggled and pried at it until it finally broke free. As she stepped back to watch the first trickle of water washed through. More and more water came and flowing out of the hole, opening the space bigger and bigger. Soon enough, and suddenly, the weight of the whole lake came thundering through blowing the dam apart. The water bound down the old river bed.
Next morning the first children coming out to play saw the river and timidly approached the banks to marvel at the sight. Their parents soon followed and encouraged the children to put their feet in and splash at the shallow edges. As the weeks went by, boys swam fearlessly in the deeper pools, women planted flowers along the banks and drew water for their gardens. Men dug out old irrigation channels bringing water to their homes and fields. They brought the livestock down to the river to drink and their crops prospered as they hadn’t for many years. Life became easier and more pleasurable.
The customary spring picnic brought anew the sense of celebration. Fiddles and harmonicas appeared and every one danced, young lovers and old folks too. They danced until it was dark and then they danced under the stars.