Opening my email to find a new student story to share always brightens my day. Previously, the stories have all been more along the lines of essays about personal growth and learning at Conserve School. I was excited to see that I had received what appeared to be a work of fiction for the first time! However, upon referring to it as fiction to one of the authors, Vivian Claire, I was immediately corrected by her, "but of course, it isn't fiction. Every word of that story is true!"
- Kate Houle, Communications Specialist
Below is the account, written by CS20 students Vivian Claire, Signe Overby, Maddie Blong, and Jane Gotzler aka "The Vikers":
It all started with The Legend of The Pants.
It is rumored that in the depths of the woods of Lowenwood, between the remote ephemeral pools and legendary Gold Trail, a pair of pants once hung from a tree. No one knew the origin of the pants, but on dark winter nights, some say they have seen bodiless pants flitting between the trees in the woods. The pants had been left undiscovered for semesters. Many have tried to find them, but none have succeeded. All have been obstructed by obstacles like snow and fear of the unknown.
Inevitably, this led us, a small group of four "Vikers" (vibing hikers) to venture into the woods on a windy February afternoon. We gathered our equipment and stepped into the lush biotic community as the sun began to set. We set out on the track the legendary original pant hunters had utilized, but soon the trail promptly cut off, leaving us to find our way on our own. We traveled through treacherous terrain, climbing bluffs and sinking into waist-deep snow. As the early stages of frostbite began to set in, we found ourselves in the abyss.
A dilemma hit us: turn back now and save our freezing feet? Or do what we set out to do?
The decision was unanimous: we had to carry on. Like a flock of geese, we took turns breaking the trail. We paused only once to eat a brief and sparse meal of fruticose lichen, without which, and the knowledge of science teacher, Andrew Deaett, we may not have completed the journey.
When all hope was lost, our brave path maker cried out, "Yonder! Behind the thicket! I spy The Pants!"
*Actual photo of the original pants, which started the legend.
There were shouts of joy and jubilation as we jolted around the edge of the pond. We steadily drew closer and closer. And then, The Pants morphed before our eyes!
"What is this?" cried out one voyageur, "The Pants no longer resemble pants at all to mine eyes! But rather something tree-like!"
And it was true. The Pants had indeed changed before our very eyes! They were now just a strip of bark hanging in a strange position.
We were dumbstruck!
Then suddenly, "What sorcery is this?" cried out another Viker in our brigade. "I see The Pants just a few paces off in yonder tree!"
We all looked. And behold, The Pants sat upon a lower tree branch, seemingly laughing at us (though no one would admit it because pants do not laugh, nor even have mouths.)
More cautiously this time, we ventured closer to The Pants. Again, they began to morph, til when we were merely two feet away from them, The Pants were indeed, just a strip of lichen.
"I do not know if my eyes are cheating me," one fellow Viker said slowly, "for there frozen in the snow seems to be a pair of pants!"
The others looked, and yet again, the pants were not more than 20 feet away. Now more cautiously than ever, we approached.
We decided to circle in upon The Pants and pounce upon them. We were naive and unaware. We stepped closer, closer, tightening the ring, and then jumped all together!
There were sudden shouts, a cacophony of pain from the group:
"Ow, I stubbed my toe!" "My face is all scratched up!" "I'm sure I'll have a bruise tomorrow!" "Goodness me! Who would have thought a pair of pants was so pokey!"
After we had picked ourselves up and licked our wounds, we looked again at where the pants had been. Instead of pants, now standing in precisely the same place, was a little balsam fir tree.
We were shocked.
After some moments of thought, one Viker said, "The Pants will go on leading us in circles for the rest of our lives if we give them the opportunity."
Another replied, "You are quite right! Those devilish little things ought not to be given a chance. We must stop this madness now."
The whole group agreed and turned right around to head home. When we began to march out of the woods, phantom apparitions of pants began appearing every in every direction we looked, beckoning us to follow.
"Let us be strong, Friends!" cried out the traveler in front. "We shall make it out of this wood alive, never again to be troubled by pants, if we just keep going!"
We pressed on with determination. The light had all but faded, and terrifyingly, The Pants had begun to fly through the air like bats.
At last, and not a minute too soon, a light appeared ahead. We hurried on and finally stumbled out of the forest onto the inner loop of our familiar campus. A warm, rosy glow welcomed us as it flooded out through the windows of Donahue, and Elaine houses in the distance. We started to feel safe again. We, the Vibing Hikers, said our goodnights and scampered off to bed, no longer tormented by phantom pants.
Later, when others asked where we had been that night, we casually laughed and said, "just a nighttime stroll."
P.S. To our knowledge, The Pants are still at large in the forests of Lowenwood but prefer not to be found. If you do happen to find them, be prepared for the strangest night of your life.
Photo of the Vikers pausing to eat a snack of lichen while scribing the story.
Photos contributed Vivian Claire.