Saturday, February 03, 2007

March 2007 -Storytelling

When children visit the Zamek here a few stories I might tell them.

Most villages and towns have fish ponds; some have rivers, also. These bodies of water are guarded by vodniks. You can always recognize a vodnik. Seaweed hangs from him, and green slime. His hair and clothes are wet. One coattail drips water. He loves to catch children, pulling them under water where he catches their souls in clay pots, popping on the lids, so they don't escape. If the citizens of village are bad people, their fish pond has no vodnik. Do you think this is good? No, it's certainly not, because no one is guarding the pond, no vodnik scaring away children who could fall in the water. Sometimes a vodnik floats a yellow ribbon on the pond to attract children. Do not be fooled by things you might see floating on the pond, and do not go close to the vodnik or his pond.

About once a year fish ponds are cleaned out, by men, never by children. The men pull the plug to let the water drain away, netting the fish which they toss into barrels of water. Then they clean out mud and rubbish and plug the pond again. The owner of the pond and everyone who helped clean take home fish for their families. In the old days often a wooden-slatted cage was placed in the deepest part of the pond and filled with some fish. It was fairly easy to take out fish for dinner during the winter.

Long, long ago, at a time lost in the mists, Duke Kroc's daughter, Princess Libuse, married Premysl. Their children and grandchildren began a dynasty lasting hundreds of years. Princess Libuse founded the capital city, Prague, "threshold = prah" - Praha.

After some generations one Premysl, Duke Kresomysl, decided to mine gold in the fields of a farmer names Horymir. Horymir did not like this and killed the miners. Then Horymir rode on his horse, Semik, to High Castle. The angry duke went to kill him at the High Castle wall. Horymir whispered in Semik's ear. The horse sailed over the wall, plunged into the Vltava river, dashed through Prague to the village Radotin where the poor exhausted horse died.

Another story from long ago is about a noble family who lived in the beautiful Bohemian castle, Cesky Krumlov. The mother and maids noticed that the children had an extra playmate, a kind woman, White Lady, who loved children. White lady was a ghost, a very kind ghost. She played with the children of the family for generations. The very last one, Peter, she visited very often because he had no brothers or sisters. Nowadays you may go to Cesky Krumlov, seeing rooms of elegant furniture and paintings, and also live bears outside in the moat, but there are no families with children living there. People say that White Lady is very sad and sometimes walks through the castle rooms, searching for children with whom to play.

Karel Capek, a famous Czech writer, told stories about a cat and a dog who were best friends. They liked to do projects together. Do you do projects with your friends?

One day they washed the floor. Oh, did they wash the floor! The cat poured on a pail of water, the dog poured on a pail of water. They swished it around with rags and a broom. Then each poured on another pail of water. Oh, they had a big flood! Maybe next time they used less water??

Another day they baked a cake. They put in lots of all the ingredients you usually put in a cake - eggs, flour, sugar, milk, butter. Then they added more things to make it especially delicious! The dog put in some meat, the cat put in a fish, the dog put in a bone, the cat put in a mouse. After pouring the batter into a large cake pan, they baked it. When the cake was done they set it outside to cool. Along came an ugly, fierce, mean dog who stole the cake and ate it all up! They were very sad until they saw that the mean dog had a terrible, terrible stomach ache. They were glad it was gone and had sandwiches for their party.

A small part of a nearby town is named “Goat Hill", on part that's a hill, of course. Every summer there's a Goat Hill Festival, a weekend of parties, singing, dancing. A mayor is elected for the weekend. He makes such promises as that it won't snow in the summer, or that no more trucks will drive through town, only goat carts. Children like the parade best. A band plays, people dress in old-fashioned clothes and ride in farm wagons pulled by horses, or carts pulled by goats. A large papier mache goat stands on a farm wagon. Watching the parade, you might have ice cream or a big balloon.

Here, below the Zamek a little boy had a cave in the cliff side above the weir. When he'd found a niche there he began enlarging it with a chisel and hammer. One day he showed it to a young man, who immediately borrowed the tools and enlarge it more. After that whenever strong young men visited, the little boy invited them to his cave, because the young men would always work on it. If you come visit, and are between four and ten years old, say, we will take you to try out the cave.

Can you draw a picture of one of these stories? What will you draw?
Princess Libuse? Semik, the horse, leaped over High Castle wall? White Lady? A vodnik? The cat and the dog baking a cake? Or, maybe you'll draw yourself in a little cave.