How an Old Song Can Inspire a New Story:
BEFORE I BEGAN to write and record the first episodes of my children's story podcast, I asked a family member in his 60's what his favorite children's song was as a child. He replied by singing (in its entirety), "The Erie Canal". I smiled with recognition because it was a song I remembered from my youth too. One of my favorite versions is by Bruce Springsteen. I loved the rhythm and the melody of it, but I didn't know what a lot of the lyrics were referencing. Primarily, why do you need a mule to go down a waterway? The more I learned about the Erie Canal the more fascinated I was by this manmade (& animal made), achievement. I enjoyed learning about the lock system, the towpath, and I especially loved reading about the important role of mules to the manmade river.
It can be easy to overlook the animals that worked alongside their human counterparts to help society advance throughout history. The animal stories are often forgotten in the history books but I find their narratives very compelling. It's always nice to run across an old story (or song) that pays tribute to their hard work.
I hope to journey to parts of the Erie Canal someday. Perhaps I will take a tour on horseback. At the very least I will imagine Sal the mule towing along a boat on the towpath. I'm sure a lot of other kiddos would be excited to see this incredible waterway too! Even if you can't make it there in person, it is my wish that folks of all ages will enjoy visiting this special place through story and song!