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The Vision of the Maiden, the Animals and the Mysterious Creature

A Native American-style story inspired by the writer’s Artist In Residency at Glacier National Park and dedicated to children in the woods everywhere.  Deb Gerace.  2008

(Teaching Ideas:  The teacher or a strong reader can narrate this story while the characters are acted out with the finger puppets that accompany this GNP story-kit.  Have the class read through it once before acting it out so that everyone knows their entrances, etc.  An interesting sidelight: these puppets that I am donating to the GNP Traveling Trunk for this play were hand-made in Peru and acquired by the author through “”10,000 Villages…A Fair Trade Business.” Of course, school teachers may instruct students in making their own puppets out of cardboard or socks, as do we at my school. This play may also be acted out by children, rather than produced as a puppet show.  I try to make all my educational projects as flexible as possible to fit many and varied needs, which is why this is not written in script form – some classrooms have been using it for simple story-telling.  If using it as a script, highlight the quoted dialog. One organization used actual actors for Rose’s prelude and postlude)

The characters:  The Narrator.  The Maiden, the Butterfly, The Owl, The Bull Trout, The Hare, The Bear, The Curly Horned Sheep, the Bat, The Horse, the Man and The Trickster, (the blue-eyed black cat-like puppet with the ringed tail.  Always wondered how I’d use that weird little dude….then my husband suggested a shape-shifter…if you are a teacher without access to the GNP Travel Trunk puppets, be creative with this character and design him any way you wish.)

Narrator:

It was 3 pm and the sun was glaring off the cascades along the Going-To-The-Sun Road when the mini- van pulled into the overlook and parked under the dappled shade at the end of the parking lot.  The father turned around and called out to his four children, “Okay, kids….who’s up for one more hike?”

The two boys, aged 8 and 10 bounced up and down in the way back shouting, “Me, Dad!  We are!”

Their mother came around and lifted their two year old sister out of her car seat.

“I’ll get Maria’s carrier, Honey, if you’ll do the honors one more time.  But aren’t you exhausted?  You just finished toting her all over Avalanche Lake.”

The father smiled, “Not a problem, Darlin.’  We’re going to see all of Glacier National Park that we can in this short vacation.  We’ve driven over a thousand miles to get here.  We can walk a few more if it means we get to see just a little more of God’s country.”

The father turned to the adolescent girl in the back seat behind him, “What about you, Cherokee Rose?  You’re the big Indian fan.  Aren’t you interested in hiking a little on this trail?  The hiking guide says it was a significant place for Native Americans.”

Rose rolled her eyes at her totally uncool father, “Daddy, pu-leeze don’t call me that and no, I’m not interested.  I’m hot and I’m tired.  I’m staying here.”

Her father and mother exchanged glances as they assembled their own tiny tribe for the outing.  Then her mother said, “All right.  Stay here, then.  We’ll leave you one of the water bottles and you can read the book about this place to help pass the time.  We’re parked in the shade so you’ll stay cool.”

The father added, “We won’t be gone long, Rosie.  Your mother has a point.  I did haul the baby four miles already, so this will be a short one.  There are several families already picnicking  on the grass in the shady area next to us, so it looks like lots of people take a break here.  It’s a pretty place to do just that, so go ahead and do your own thing for a little while.  Just be sure you stay here so we don’t come back and find you’ve gone out on your own.  That would wind you up back in the cabin for the rest of this vacation, little lady.”

Rose heaved a sigh and gave her father the attitudinal eye-roll one more time.  “Whatever. I told you I was tired.  I’m going to take a nap.  You all go on and knock yourselves out.  I’ll be fine.”

The family started down the steps to the trail and Rose stretched out across the seat.  She kicked off her shoes and stuck her bare feet out the window.  She picked up the guide book and idly thumbed through it and then found herself intrigued by the mysterious names and stories mentioned under the glossy photos of the falls and the forest.  The sun warmed her feet and the rising breezes flipped the pages and finally blew the paperback to the floor of the van but Rose never even noticed – she had fallen fast asleep, lulled by the splashing rush of the falls.  She began to dream…….

(The puppets enter here and depart when Rose wakes up. The narrator continues reading any unquoted text throughout the rest of the tale.)

In the time of the most heat moon, when the late afternoon sun glittered on the sacred dancing falls, there strolled a maiden who lifted her buckskin skirt and stepped into the waters to cool her bare feet.  As she stood there, gazing dreamily off towards the mountains, an old owl hooted from the white bark pine above her head and said in his best deep and wise voice, “Daughter, I have not seen you here before.  You must be far from your mother’s cooking fire.”

The Maiden looked up with a sweet smile, not at all frightened by this mysterious voice and replied, “My mother is the Sun, so I am always near her fire and I am never afraid.”

The Owl flew down a little closer to the Maiden and said, “But you are alone in the deep forest.”

She responded, “I am not alone.  Perhaps you did not notice my sister, the butterfly, who guides me by day.  She would never allow me to become lost.”

The Owl flew down from his branch and hopped near the water’s edge where he indeed observed a bright and fiery colored butterfly fluttering around the girl.

The Owl harrumphed, “Of course I see her.  Do you take me for a fool?  The bright sun shining on the spray made it difficult to make her out at first, but now that I am standing near the sacred dancing waters, I see her clearly.”

The girl turned away for a moment, hiding her knowing smile, aware that the Owl had not noticed her guide at first and was now blustering to cover his weakness.  The Butterfly balanced herself on the Maiden’s head and said in her tiny high and whispery voice, like aspen leaves in the morning breeze, “Do not step too far out into the stream, my sister.  The current here across from the falling waters is strong.”

The Maiden gave her head a playful toss, which flicked her fluttery sister into the air towards the shore.

“Do not fear for me, Sister.  My brother, the Bull Trout will swim up from the depths of the waters and make steady my feet on these red rocks.”

And sure enough, at her call, Bull Trout leapt up from the roiling waters, brushing against her ankles so that she would know he was there to do her bidding.  Showing off, he arched out of the stream, flashing in the sun as he fell back into the splashing waters.

He thrust his head back up and said to the maiden, “My sister, I am always here for you, but your guide, the Flying Flower could be my lunch in a single leap and snap.  She would fill my belly for several meals.”

The Butterfly fluttered back from where she had been warming herself on the sun baked red rock and scolded, “O you wicked Bull Trout!  This is a sacred place.  You should not be thinking of filling your belly here, especially with a sister-guide of the daughter of the Sun!  There would be a heavy price to pay for such folly!”

The Bull Trout merely laughed and The Owl flew over his head and hooted, “She is right.  There is a time and place to think of hunger and feeding, but not here and now.  Soon other creatures of the forest will gather here to visit these waters and…”

The Bull Trout completed his sentence, “…many are not natural brothers, so we must all remember that sacred demands sacrifice.  We all know the rule, Owl.”

The Owl puffed irritably, “I know that, Bull Frog…”

“Bull Trout, O Wise One Not who certainly missed that obvious fact,” The Bull Trout interrupted him, blowing scolding bubbles as he spoke.

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