Hobbomock, The Sleeping Giant
The Boy has fond memories of the many trips up Route 10, to visit the family farm in western Massachusetts, long before Interstate 91 was created. Along the way, the family would pass the Sleeping Giant, and mother would tell them the giant’s legend, according to her understanding.
In trying to resurrect this story, The Boy met author Jason Marchi, whose research and whose excellent children’s book “The Legend of Hobbomock,” are the basis for this week’s column. If you are interested in reading Mr. Marchi’s book, it may be found at Barnes and Noble.
It seems that in early times, the Native Americans known as the Long Water Land People (Quinnipiac) believed that giants made from stone once roamed the earth. One such stone giant was called Hobbomock, whose footsteps shook the earth, and whose voice was as loud as thunder.
Marchi’s book centers around a young Quinnipiac boy called Blackbird, who first heard of Hobbomock from his elders: In the earliest times, Hobbomock was the tribe’s hero; he taught them how to hunt and fish. And he taught them that all things are sacred. At that time, the Quinnipiac, the winged people (the birds), and the four-legged people (the animals) all spoke the same language.
One day, Hobbomock got into his canoe and left the Long Water Land, to teach others how to hunt and fish, and care for their land. While he was gone, everything changed; the birds, animals and people no longer spoke the same language. Fear and distrust grew among them. When Hobbomock returned, he was angry at what he saw, and stamped his foot so hard that the long river (Connecticut River) changed direction and stayed that way. Angrily, Hobbomock left the Long Water Land.
Time passed and Blackbird grew, but he never forgot the tale of Hobbomock. One day, he was exploring in the deep forest, and he felt a mystical presence. Looking up, he saw Hobbomock, the stone giant looking down at him. The giant was angry that Blackbird had come to explore and hunt in the forbidden forest by the river. In a booming voice he told Blackbird that his people could not go there, because they no longer respected it, and he began to chase Blackbird back to his home.
Blackbird eluded the giant, and met hastily with the elders of his tribe. “There is only one thing we can do to stop Hobbomock: We must summon the good spirit Keitan and ask for his help.” The elders sat in a circle around their magic charms and began to chant, and Keitan cast a sleeping spell on the giant. Moments later, there was a crash that shook the earth, as the giant fell to his knees, rolled onto his back, and entered into a long, deep sleep.
Today, Hobbomock still sleeps. His sleeping body lies in repose beneath the set of hills that form the Sleeping Giant landform in what is now Hamden, Connecticut. But legend has it that one day, Keitan’s sleeping spell will wear off, and Hobbomock will wake up; and the hills that form his head, his body and his legs will have disappeared.