This is another folklore type obsession, and it’s definitely a regional one. Babe The Big Blue Ox, as she is called, is a sort of sidekick to North American folk legend Paul Bunyan. I spent the first portion of my childhood in southern Minnesota, and it was something that came up every so often. Since I’ve moved south of that freezing tundra, Babe seems to have been removed from the collective consciousness, probably due to her irrelevance south of Canada’s neighbors, until I have to wonder if it even exists in the way I remember it. (For example, I think of Babe as a she, but in some preliminary googling for this post, Babe is referred to as a boy ox.)
Essentially, you’ve got Paul Bunyan, all around strongman and lumberjack king, trampling around North America doing feats of lumberjacky strength. Babe The Big Blue Ox is, unsurprisingly, a gigantic blue ox. The way I remember it, their footprints are said to be what made a lot of the 10,000 lakes that Minnesota claims to contain, and they do everything in epic proportions. (Paul Bunyan lifts whole trees, they eat gigantic portions of food, and they’re super duper strong.)
I suppose that my “obsession” with Babe doesn’t really have anything to do with the legends themselves; they’re kind of boring in their own absurd way. (Dorky, even.) What really has them on my mind is just the vague way I remember them. They’re an artifact of my childhood, an era of my life that is distinctly separate from my adolescence and university years because of the fact that I moved away. I think that a lot of the things that happen in our childhoods are so romanticized, from the places we go to the dumb cartoons we watch, and we remember them very differently than the way they actually were. (Recall the first time you rewatched something you loved as a child…and realized that it didn’t hold up.)
By the way, in the image for this post you can see Brainerd on the sign, which is a setting of the movie/recent FX miniseries Fargo.