Saturday, October 3, 2009
A children's story from Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Today finishes this month's rotation for VBT - Writers on the Move. Carolyn Howard-Johnson has been my guest for October 1 and today.
We are used to reading and hearing about Carolyn's How To Do It Frugally books for writers. Most of us don’t know she also writes children’s stories and poetry.
Carolyn has been working on stories she's collected on her travels from around the world for several years with no end in sight. Generally, like this one, they are told using the traditional style for legends and fairytales. Learn more about her travels at Red Engine Press and more about her fiction and poetry at Published Works Almanac.
Below is one of her stories.
The Legend of Laguna del Incas
A long time ago in the land of the Inca—long before this faraway place had names like Chile and Peru—there lived a young couple in love.
Most Incas felt close to their gods and these two young people were no exception. Febo, the god who warmed them with warm rays and made the crops grow, was part of their everyday lives. So was Eolo who blew clouds into puffy shapes like giant umbrellas. Old men and women who lived in the villages reminisced about Eolo and Febo as they blew their smoke from pipes into rings. They still do, still think of the young people as smoke curls up into the thin mountain air.
Illi Yupanqui and the Princess Kora-Ilé were to marry and, because the Incas considered themselves children of the sun, they chose Aconagua, the highest peak in the Andes, for their wedding. There they could be as close as possible to Febo's warmth and Eolo's magic. Aconagua was not only the highest mountain in all of the Andes, it was the highest in all of their world. It was so high, so very, very high that the peaks were carved into giant black teeth, pure and barren, by glaciers and by Eolo's icy gusts.
Kora-Ilé's eyes were so blue-green they looked as if the gods had mixed lapis lazuli found in the veins of mountain rocks with silver waters of the lagoon at the foot of the Aconagua. For her wedding, she chose white linen, much as brides do today. It was often cold on the mountain even in summer, and the sun god Febo made her dress look as pure as glacier ice against the dark peaks that surrounded them. The princess walked regally followed by her séquito down the steep dark precipice where all could see her, much as modern brides make their entrance down a curving staircase.
The cliffs were smooth and slippery from the morning dew. She chose her way carefully. Trying to glimpse her Illi, she looked away from the path. Her soft slipper caught on a piece of smooth black basalt and she fell to her death.
Illi Yupanqui could not bear to have her removed from the place where they had experienced the bliss of true love. He wrapped her in his arms and carried her to the edge of the silver lagoon at the foot of the peaks. There he kissed her lips, immersed her into the pure, clear water and watched her sink. The lake was so clear he could see her as she descended deeper and deeper. He didn't think he could leave the lake as long as he could see her hair flowing in the water, her dress shining up at him like a white pebble from the bottom of the clear lake.
The gods knew Illi's thoughts. As Illi watched, Eolo moved the surface of the water. Tiny ripples obscured the young bridegroom's view of Koru-Ilé. Then Febo moved across the sky so shadows from the peaks darkened the water. Soon the water turned from crystalline to turquoise. Eolo's breath no longer pushed it into tiny waves. It became a smooth cabochon, rounded and opaque like a semi-precious stone set in black metal, just as the Laguna del Inca mountain, looks today.
Illi Yupanqui knew it was a sign that all would be well. When the moon is full, high up in those mountains where the country of Chile meets the border of Argentina, the village people who trek to the summit can hear the princess's voice blend with Eolo's call. Eolo, for his part, has never disturbed the surface of the lagoon from that day to this, though some say it is only because the peaks that surround it protect it from his sighs.
Descendants of the Incas are reminded of this love story by the blend of Eolo's quiet moans and Kora-Ilé's high, young cry that can be heard in the thin mountain air, and, of course, by the tales that are told today of a love still pure in this place so close to the home of their gods.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson is collecting stories from around the world for a book that will include little known legends from places she has visited. A work in progress, it includes myths and legends and stories of monsters and princesses. She is the author of THIS IS THE PLACE and HARKENING, and TRACINGS, a chapbook of poetry. All are award winning books. She also writes books that will help other authors. They are the multi award-winning How To Do It Frugally books for writers.
Thank you so much for sharing this story with us, Carolyn. It’s very interesting and definitely shows your versatility.