The Pot Belly Tree

Andy and I took about ten boys on a nature walk in the woods at Lake Yale. We were teaching the boys and showing them some things about God's creation. We came to this Water Oak that was a little bit twisted and looked liked it had a belly in the middle of the trunk. Andy told them it was called the "Pot Belly Tree". Naturally, the boys asked why it was called the "Pot Belly Tree". Then, Andy started to tell the history behind the tree.

Andy said, "One day we had a group of boys about your age we took on a nature walk, just like we are doing today. In this group of boys there was one boy that didn't behave himself. He was throwing rocks, pushing other boys in the group, and not obeying. He was a big problem in the group." As the boys were listening to Andy I could tell they were convinced that this really happened. Andy told the boys, "I talked to this bad boy several times and corrected him on several occasions during the nature hike. Finally, I told him, 'If I have to talk to you anymore, I am going to tie you to a tree with every knot I know how to tie!'" Andy was great. His inflection got stronger as he progressed with the story.

"The boy didn't believe me." Andy said, "So, the boy misbehaved his last time. I grabbed him by the arm and brought him over to this tree and tied him up with every knot I knew. The boy was tied firmly to this tree to the point where he couldn't move. I told him that I would be back later to untie him. So, the rest of the group and I left him and finished the nature hike."

Andy finished the story saying, "Camp was over at the end of the week and we all packed up and went home." One of the boys in the group asked, "What about the boy you tied to the tree? What happened to him?" Andy paused for a minute and looked at the boys with a stoic face and answered, "We forget all about him." Another boy asked, "Did you remember to go back and untie the boy from the tree?" Andy answered, "Yeah, we did--when we came back the next summer. The only problem was; I forgot what tree I tied him to. So, I went to go looking for that tree all day and finally found it. It was too late. The tree had grown around the boy and the bark covered him up." Another boy asked, "Was the boy alive?"

The studious observer I was, jumped in and finished it off. I said, "He was still alive. You could hear him say, 'Help, help, help!'" as my voice cracked in a higher note. Buy that time, the boys were totally convinced that the tale of the "Pot Belly Tree" was true. At that point, we could tell them anything and they would believe it. Andy walked over to the tree and put his ear up to it and said, "I think I can still hear crying for help." Immediately, all but one of the boys ran over to the tree and put their ears to the tree hoping they could hear the faint cries of the boy.

As their attention was drawn to the tree, one boy that wasn't at the tree was walking close by. As he was walking, he found Deer Moss on the ground shaped like a foot. He picked it up and exclaimed, "Here's his foot!" That got Andy's and my attention. The boys, Andy, and I looked in the direction of the boy and saw the foot shaped Deer Moss he held up in plain sight. Andy and I looked at each other dumb-founded and amazed. Both of us were caught off guard and broke out laughing. When we started laughing, the boys realized they fell for the "Pot Belly Tree" tale. You could hear the group of boys saying they never believed what Andy and I told them about the "Pot Belly Tree". They said some things like: "Na'-ah", "That idn't true" or "You made dat up."

You had to be there!

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