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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

On Little Girls and Dragons

This past Fourth of July my family and I enjoyed the holiday at a small town nearby, the little city of Biggs. Despite its tiny size (the population on the “Entering Biggs” sign reads 1,793), Biggs always raises big bucks and puts on a spectacular fireworks display.

One feature of the show every year we’ve been there is Claude, the fire-breathing dragon.

Claude is the result of his master’s dedicated efforts with a blow torch. Made of every bit of rusting metal the artist could find, Claude sports gun barrels on his body, a tail made largely of horseshoes, plus a concatenation of iron stove lids and oven doors, spurs, hand tools, rakes, hoes, and just about everything else that can be made of iron.

The dragon’s wings are beautiful, splendid, and fold neatly against his body except when he is in full active mode. Then the pneumatic processes inside Claude go to work, his wings unfurl, his head lifts and turns, his mouth opens and closes while a long metal tongue flaps up and down, and he breathes spouts of flame from both nostrils.

A fantasy of a creation, Claude is more than twenty feet long and stands some ten feet to twelve feet tall at the crest of his back. He is splendid.

This year we took our 19-month-old granddaughter with us to Biggs and wondered how she would respond to Claude. We made a point to ease our little one into accepting Claude by letting her touch him while he stood still outside the football field, waiting to come on. Later, when he was looking directly at her and belching fire, we were in the top of the football stands, many yards away.

Perhaps that is why the dragon simply delighted our baby. The little girl beside us was terrified and begged to go home, but Adelaide was thrilled and giggled every time Claude turned his head her way.

Maybe she will grow up to be bolder and more willing to try new things than her gramma always was. Maybe not. Either way I will always have the memory of a cherubic blonde baby squealing with delight as a fire-breathing monster gave her his special attention.

You go, Girl!

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