Telling the Story

On a summer visit to The Wilds, our tram pulled up beside a group of camels. Typically, I find the camels rolling in the mud. But today was different. Today, they were settled at the top of a grassy hill, mouths open as a soft breeze wrestled against tangled fur. Over the hill, but not visible in the picture, a group of zebras romped in the meadow below. One of them, a mischievous zebra named Elvis, is often the topic of conversation at this unique wildlife preserve.

I wondered if the camels noticed the zebras in the distance, if they, in fact, attend to or study their surroundings with any demonstrable detail. Beyond the instinct to survive, what concerns would a camel have?  If they could speak in words understandable to the human ear, what story would they tell?

“Mildred,” one might say, “I can’t see past your hump. What is that goofy zebra up to down there?”

“Same stuff as usual,” Mildred might reply, “Still after the gal with the wild mane.”

Think so? Probably not. The group of camels seemed as oblivious to the zebras as they were to our parked tram. Perhaps, camels simply want to enjoy their day.

Humans also love to enjoy their day. I know I was certainly enjoying my time at The Wilds; nothing is wilder than my ever-present imagination. And I know I am not the only one who enjoys a good story.

It’s my dad’s fault. Dad was a master of seeing life through the context of a story. Walking into our home on any given day was much like walking into a museum where each item had a story to tell. Walls were lined with collectibles and decorated with hunting trophies. A set of bull horns rested above the dining room mirror, justification for a fictitious story involving a wrestling match between the bull and my grandfather.

But my favorite story was about the Powder River Owl.  

In the middle of the living room above the couch, my father had hung the back end of an antelope he had killed on a hunt in Wyoming. Before it was mounted and placed on the wall, he had two eyes strategically placed and the tail elongated to resemble a beak. Neighbors would visit the house to hear the story of my dad’s close encounter with this bird. As the story went, he was fishing at a friend’s private lake, when this bird came soaring from the sky heading straight for his small fishing boat. In self-defense, my dad picked up his rifle and shot the bird; and it was only after the bird landed in the water did he realize that he might have killed an endangered species. 

“What happened next, Hubert?” his wide-eyed visitor would ask.

“I hid it in the barn and smuggled it out after dark before the cops could find out,” dad would whisper.

From the chair on the opposite end of the room, I could only shake my head in dismay. No one ever questioned why a rifle was necessary on a fishing expedition, much less why an owl would have fur rather than feathers.


All of us have stories, whether we choose to acknowledge them or not. They live in each of us as memories. Stories can be dismissed as passing thought or be a catalyst for deep introspection. When thoughtfully considered, our stories can help us navigate life’s pitfalls and provide a means of celebrating our shared humanity. When reaching for a dream seems difficult, our past can light the way to the future. If we are smart, our stories inform and guide our journey through life. 

Published byDebra Larabee

Debra Larabee is a nurse, writer, photographer and lifestyle educator. She received her diploma in nursing in 1981 from Mount Carmel School of Nursing and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in1990 from Capital University. Debra completed post-graduate training in distance education from the Univerity of Maryland and has dedicated her professional life to assisting others in their search for a healthier life.

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