A trip is always made more magical for young children with some good stories. Tell a story about a place you are about to visit and watch your children notice all those special things you mentioned or ask where that special fairy might be hiding.
Well, our favorite place is Yosemite and over the next few weeks I'll be writing some stories here for my kids (and for yours too, if you want.)
The first story is for all those beautiful waterfalls in Yosemite. But especially the big Yosemite Falls.
Once upon a time there was a great mountain mother named Lyell. She took good care of all her children, the fairies and gnomes, the butterflies and bears, and even the ducks that visited her mountain lakes. All her children loved her too. But the one who loved her best of all was a little fairy named Lana.
Lana was born in the early spring, right in the center of a Mariposa Lily. She had a bright orange dress but never really fit in with the other fairies because one of her wings had a small rip and so she couldn't fly. But Lana wasn't lonely because she was always asking Mother Lyell how she could help. "May I make you a crown of wildflowers Mother Lyell?" she would ask. "Do you need me to ask the clouds to rain on your dry spots? " "Should I turn the leaves of the trees orange and yellow now?"
And every time Mother Lyell would reply, "Yes child. Thank you for always helping me."
And then Lana would wake up the seed babies to make a beautiful crown of wildflowers, yell up to the sky and call down the rain, and shimmy up every tree to change the colors of the leaves.
Then the winter snows came and Mother Lyell seemed to grow old and age all at once. Her head was crowned with bright, white snow for hair and her rocks creaked. The trees and the wildflowers and the grass and the seeds all lay fast asleep beneath the great drifts of Mother Lyell's snow, white hair. All her children went into their dens for a long winter nap and then Mother Lyell herself began to lightly snore.
All the other fairies flew down the mountain and away to the warmer places where they could still fly among the orange trees and sandy beaches. But not Lana. She was left all alone.
"Mother Lyell?" She called. "Mother Lyell, do you need anything?"
But Mother Lyell never said anything, she just continued to sleep. An evergreen tree hear Lana's cries and shook her branches. "Come here, child. Come here. Winter is a time for rest. But do not worry. You will be warm beneath my boughs and soon spring will come again and all the world will wake. Even Mother Lyell."
Lana nodded and crawled underneath the kind fir and nestled in the pine needles. She slept restlessly all winter. Waking up and checking to see if Mother Lyell was awake yet.
"Not yet," the tree would say. "But soon. Soon dear."
Then one day, Lana felt the ground beneath her and it was warmer. Not warm like in the spring and summer or even fall, but not quite so cold. She put her ear to the ground and listened. "Are you awake Mother Lyell?"
"Yes," she whispered.
Lana was so excited, she dashed out from beneath the pine tree. "Tell me what you need Mother Lyell. How can I help you?"
Mother Lyell wheezed out a quiet laugh. "I feel the spring coming," she said. "And in the spring I put on a lovely green dress lined with wild flowers. But look at my hair. It has gotten so unruly!"
Lana looked toward the top of Mother Lyell and she was right. The snow lay in great huge clumps all around.
Do you think you could brush my hair out, Lana? Brush it out into the rivers and streams and lakes that is used to be."
Lana's heart felt suddenly warm. "I would love to!"
"Here," said the pine tree shaking a bough. "Take one of my branches. I have kept it warm and alive all winter. It will be perfect."
Lana snapped off the branch and went to work. She climbed up to the very top of Mother Lyell and started running that warm pine branch all over the snow. She called up to the sun. "Mr. Sun! I need your help to comb Mother Lyell's hair." And even though the sun still was not as warm as in summer, he shone a little brighter.
Slowly, slowly, and little by little, Lana combed out Mother Lyell's hair into great, beautiful, blue trickles running down her sides. And then she combed out more and then become streams, and then creaks. And then after several weeks Lana had combed so much of Mother Lyell's snowy hair that they joined together into a beautiful river.
But Mother Lyell's hair was so long. It jsut kept stretching on and on. And one day as Lana was combing it out farther and farther away, she came to a steep cliff. "Oh no," she thought. "What will I do? I have no wings to take Mother Lyell's hair over this cliff." Lana looked over the cliff again and it was so far down. She sat on the ground and began to cry. What would Mother Lyell say? Already she was beginning to put on her beautiful green dress.
Suddenly, Lana heard a voice. "I can help you."
Lana looked and saw a small rainbow. "I can give you a ride down the cliff," said the rainbow.
"Really?" Lana wiped away her tears and hopped onto the smooth, dewy surface of the rainbow. And then Lana and the rainbow led Mother Lyell's lovely, blue river of hair over the edge of the cliff. It fell, fell, fell with a great CRASH against the rocks below.
"Thank you!" said Lana with a clap of her hands.
"We aren't done yet," said the rainbow. "Look."
Lana looked down and saw ANOTHER cliff. "I'll help you down that one, too," said the rainbow.
And it did. Mother Lyell's brlue river now cascaded beautifully over the upper and lower cliffs and into a valley. Lana looked around and saw that as the water from Mother Lyell poured into the valley, everything became green and woke up. And it was beautiful.
"Where are we?" asked Lana.
"Yosemite Valley," said the Rainbow.
"Yes, it is."
From then on, Lana stayed with the rainbow by Yosemite falls every spring and early summer. In the late summer she'd return up the mountain and in the fall help Mother Lyell get ready for her long winter's snooze. Then in early spring she combs out her hair all over again. You might see Lana when you go to visit Yosemite. Just look for a rainbow in the rushing, misty water. That's Lana, brushing a snarl out of Mother Lyell's hair.