By Maria Cimonetti
“Who’s that trip-trapping over my bridge?” the big ogre cried out from the darkness below.
“It’s only me, the littlest Billy Goat Gruff, my curly headed daughter answered in her sweetest three-year-old voice. “I’m going up to the hillside to eat myself fat!”
“Oh no, you’re not, I’m going to gobble you up,” said I, the grumpy troll, squatting on screaming knees in the muddy puddle under the low playground bridge.
“Oh no, don’t eat me. I’m too little. Wait for my brother, the second Billy Goat Gruff. He’s much fatter,” she squeaked again, merrily continuing her unremitting trip-trapping to and fro across the bridge, playing all Billy Goat Gruff roles with aplomb, always outsmarting the poor tired ogre and finishing him off in the end with a quick head butt to the eye balls.
Over and over we played this game at every playground we visited, retelling the tale of billy goat triumph until one day, the little billy goat (and her sister) grew up and trip-trapped right on out into the great big world leaving the confused ogre rattling around the empty house, wondering and wandering, transitioning in fits and starts to a new chapter in her story.
Last week, suffering from a bit of early spring nostalgia, my powers of avoidance and deflection were no match for the smart- talking, enthusiastic, Recreation Director Betsy Cieplicki, applied the slightest arm-twist encouraging me to join her team and jump into the lake as a participant in this year’s Fool’s Flop, the town’s main fundraiser for a new playFool’s Flop returns in style ground at Davis Park. I had no excuses; this I could do without a note from my back doctor and a permission slip from my physical therapist. She had me; I had been thinking about playgrounds and missing my annoying little goats.
Sunday dawned slightly warmer than Saturday which made me hopeful about my upcoming plunge until I rolled into the Town Beach and watched the many volunteers from the Rec. Dept. fight to keep registration forms secure in the tempest blowing across the lake. I hid in my sun-soaked Subaru, swaddled in goose down, as brave townsfolk, young and old, poured into the parking lot eager to flop. At the last possible second, my inner ogre reluctantly joined the various teams joyfully assembling on the beach: kids, teachers, parents, school and Selectboard members, and eager town employees. To start, four safety personnel from the Shelburne Fire Department casually strode into the surf decked out in bright yellow dry suits, significantly less distraught than myself and even the pack of excited girls and boys waiting patiently in their swim trunks, knees knocking and goosies bumping. They were ready.
Like my wistful perception of the swift passage of time it took for my kids to grow up, the Fool’s Flop commenced and concluded in about 12 minutes: the world’s fastest fundraiser. I barely had my boots off before Selectboard member Al Gobeille stirringly initiated the Rocking Rec’ers final countdown to plunge time. Wrapped in caution tape, because really only fools rush in, I flopped. In the brisk trot through the crystal clear water back to the beach and my puffy coat, I realized the true usefulness of the fairy tale – we’re all just trying to get to the other side.
Donations to the Davis Park Playground Project are still being accepted. Checks can be made out to “Shelburne Parks and Recreation” (memo: Fool’s Flop) and dropped off with Sue or Betsy at the Rec. Dept. office. Please give generously – little billy goats all over town are waiting for a new bridge.