(This story was inspired by my grandson, Liam Dean, who is two months old today. I wrote it on Sunday morning on my plane while flying to be with him. It’s in honor of Liam and his trusted German Shepherd, Arlo. These are the adventures I imagine they will have together one day when Liam is a wee bit older).
ONCE UPON A TIME there lived a little prince, named Liam, and his faithful dog, King Arlo. They loved to go on exciting adventures together from sunup to sundown. Everyday they’d run through the meadow behind their castle to get to the forest of trees as fast as they could.
It was there that the adventures would truly begin. As they entered the forest through a tunnel of trees, all the woodland creatures would come out of their sleepy hiding places to greet King Arlo and Prince Liam. Rabbits would start hopping, squirrels started chattering, while owls began “who . . . who . . . hooting”—to welcome the King and Prince to their forest.
A canopy of colorful butterflies and magical hummingbirds danced above their heads as Prince Liam and King Arlo ran to their favorite spot in the middle of the forest. There, a deep blue pond, where bullfrogs croaked their greetings, awaited them.
Prince Liam found a favorite stick and pretended to hunt dangerous wolves one minute . . . and then turned it into a fishing pole the next. He hoped to catch the biggest rainbow trout that ever had been caught in that neck of the woods.
King Arlo sat on a huge rock in the sun, carefully watching over Prince Liam who was trying to catch slithery salamanders or slimy snakes at the edge of the pond.
King Arlo watched over the activity like a regal shepherd, guarding his prince from any danger that could be lurking in the woods. Though he never saw one, Arlo knew that grey wolves and black bears shared the same forest, so he stayed on guard while the prince fought imaginary dragons with his stick, now a sword.
It seemed that all of the woodland creatures felt safer when King Arlo was in the woods. A mama doe slept peacefully in the shade of the trees, with her newborn fawn tucked beside her. She’d sometimes raise her head to catch a glimpse of the giggling little boy as he made flat, shiny rocks skip one . . . two . . . three . . . times across the pond.
Suddenly, a bright orange fox appeared on the other side of the pond, but he wisely kept a safe distance from King Arlo and the Prince. They later spied a skunk with her four little ones scampering behind her. So both King Arlo and Prince Liam stayed perfectly still until the skunk family was far enough away to avoid getting sprayed.
All afternoon Prince Liam and King Arlo stayed by the pond, dipping their feet and paws in the cool water, which made the toads jump and fish scatter. Sometimes King Arlo would try to catch the bumblebees between his teeth as they buzzed over his head, despite Prince Liam’s warning that his dog might get stung.
After playing for hours, Prince Liam was tired and hungry. So he climbed up on the rock to share a bit of his lunch with the King. He rummaged through the lunch his mama had packed for him. She’d made homemade cinnamon bread slathered in butter and raspberry jam. And there were also an apple and cheese and fresh blackberries and Liam’s favorite, a sour pickle. Liam let Arlo eat all the carrots and snap peas, and even a corner of the jammy bread.
After eating his lunch, Prince Liam was sleepy, so he rested his head on King Arlo for what he thought was just a minute. But when he awoke, the sky was all dusky, the setting sun casting warm light and new shadows across the darkening forest. King Arlo gently nudged Liam to let him know they should get home before dark. So they walked side-by-side with Prince Liam’s hand on King Arlo’s back, while the moonlight and fireflies dimly lit their path . . . all the way home.
Photo below taken today: Liam (8 weeks) and Arlo (1 year)
This story was inspired by a tee-shirt
I found before Liam was born or
we even knew he was a boy.
It says “Once Upon a Time” on the front
and “There Lived a Prince” on the back.
Liam will be about a year old when he
is big enough to wear the shirt, just about
the time he’ll start walking . . . oh, what
adventures await this beautiful boy!