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Winter Solstice Story by Connie Manson

Here is a story from my book "A Journey Through Winter" that can be told this season. Wonderful in the classroom or at home. Included below is a little dove finger puppet pattern. Blessings on your holiday season!
Once there was a little boy who lived with his Mother in a cozy cottage near a gurgling stream. It was summer time and many flowers were blooming near the stream‘s edge. There, the little boy would lie on his belly in the grass and watch the bees and the butterflies dance among the flowers, and the spiders swing on threads as they spun and wove their shining webs.

There was an old tree which lay fallen in the woods that he loved to climb on and pretend he was a sailor sailing out to sea! One morning, lying in the moss by the old tree he found a large piece of  bark. It was just the right size for a boat of his own! He found a branch that was straight and true, to use for a mast. There were a number of stones that lay by the brook, and he picked up a pointed, thin one, which he used to dig a hole in the bark. He fit the mast snugly into the hole. Now, for a sail! There was a leaf growing by the stream that was just large enough. Using tiny bits of twig, he attached the leaf to the mast. He spent many happy summer days watching his little boat bob up and down merrily in the water. 

It wasn’t long before the crickets began to sing of Prince Autumn’s arrival! The apples grew red and ripe, and fell to the ground. Prince Autumn came through the wood and painted the leaves golden, red and brown. The leaves waved in the breeze and began to dance to the ground, and some fell into the little stream. The boy helped his mother rake leaves into tall piles and then they would jump into the piles with a happy shout! Sometimes Squirrel Nutkin would come near and leap nimbly from branch to branch, chattering as he went, searching for nuts to store in his sturdy home which was tucked in a tree branch near its trunk.

As the nights grew longer and the days shorter, the winds blew in puffs of cold air. The little boy would put on his warm clothes and sit quietly on the fallen old log to watch the deer as they nibbled on soft twigs and buds nearby. 

One evening as he was walking in the woods he found a little opening behind some bushes. He thought he saw the fluffy tail of a fox, and crawled through the opening to see. But as he was searching for the fox, the sun slipped quickly down behind the trees the woods grew very dark. The little boy looked around and didn’t know how to find his way back home again. A frosty gust of wind blew and the boy shivered with cold. 

Then, in the dim light, the little boy saw something gleaming on the ground. It was a small sparkling stone. 

“Oh, little stone, dear little stone, will you help me find my way back home?” The little stone twinkled, and suddenly the boy didn’t feel quite so cold anymore. He picked up the stone, and he was just reaching to put it in his pocket when it seemed to leap right out of his hand! It rolled a ways, then stopped by the roots of a little fir tree whose branches were gently dancing in the frosty breeze. 

“Oh dear little fir tree, can you hear me? Will you help me find my way home speedily?”, asked the boy. 

One of the slender branches of the fir tree stirred, and it seemed to be pointing towards a clearing in the woods! The little boy walked until he reached the place where only a few trees were standing beneath the twinkling starlight. 

He heard a sound high up in a tree, in one of  its branches. “Tsu-croo, tsu-croo.” What was that? A small dove poked out its head and flew down to a lower branch, closer to the boy.

“Oh little dove, dear little dove, Can you guide me homeward with your song of love?” The dove sang softly, “Tsu-croo, tsu-croo, that I will do. First look up at the star that shines for you!”

The boy looked up, and there he saw a star that seemed to sparkle a bit more than the others. The little boy smiled. In a twinkle, the dove flew down into the clearing and rested by something growing near the ground, then flew upward into the tree once more. He wondered what the dove had landed beside, and ran over to see. There softly glowing  like a star in the grass, sat a beautiful white flower. The boy knelt down and gently picked the flower, and held it in his hand. 

Then the dove called once again, “Tsu-croo, tsu-croo.” It kept on calling until the boy walked towards it, then flew away into the woods. The little boy quickly followed. It wasn’t long before he found himself crawling back through the opening into the bushes, near the gurgling stream behind his cottage. 

The boy ran inside to show his treasure to his mother, saying, “Mother, I am so sorry. I was lost in the woods. I asked a stone to help me, and it rolled to a fir tree, and I asked the fir tree to help me, and it pointed to a clearing in the woods. There I found a dove, and when I asked the dove to help me, it called to me to look up and there I saw a bright shining star. Then the dove showed me where this flower was growing, and I picked it. Next the dove flew into the woods and led me to our brook, and . . . well . . .  here I am!”

“My dear child, I am so happy to see you!” said the Mother. “When you didn’t answer me when I called, I asked a shining star to watch over you and guide you safely home again.” Then she smiled and gave the little boy a big hug. Together they found a small glass dish, filled it with water and laid the flower inside. 


“What a lovely Winter Star,“ said his Mother. And together they sat by the brightly burning fire and sipped some delicious warm soup for supper.






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Picking up the Gauntlet . . .

Once I remember wonderful Suzanne Down challenging her newsletter readers to try writing a shelter story using a sea side theme. She suggested the sea shell becoming the common shelter--similar to the tale of "The Mitten", where a little mouse happens upon an abandoned mitten and calls it home, and along comes a little friend, and then another. Always each new friend is welcomed to join the others. What a great idea, I thought (thank you, Suzanne!) and sat down to give it a try. Those of you who have written your own stories know that the first moments are the trickiest . . . but it's always worth the effort! Somehow the tale begins to speak and guide the writer into what to say. For my story I ended up using the same rhyming format as a German shelter story another dear friend introduced me to called "The Pot" (thank you, Renate Hiller!) The version written here works nicely for those living in a beach community as I do, or during the summer time and early autumn. At the end of this story you'll see a little 'horse of the sea' puppet pattern, to help bring the tale to life!

And now, dear friends, I am throwing the gauntlet to you! Begin a story today . . . take a few minutes to drink in the wonders of nature in your backyard or a beloved park, then bathe in the quiet and listen . . . write what comes to you!! Scroll down this page for a link to tips on storytelling!

Shining Shell
by Connie Manson © 2012

In the ocean blue, near the shore, the waves rolled this-a way, and they rolled that a-way. A sea shell tumbled and tossed in the water. It rolled and rolled and then came to a stop on the sandy ocean bottom. The sun was shining brightly up above, and little rays of sunshine danced in the water. A tiny blue fish came darting by, swimming up and swimming down, and looking all around. It saw the sea shell lying there. It looked to be as big as a smooth, shining palace! It swam up to the sea shell and called “Shining shell, shining shell, who dwells here?” But no one answered, because no one was inside. “Then I shall live here,” it said, and it made a cozy home inside the shell.

Along came goldie the fish. It saw the sea shell and called out, “Shining shell, shining shell, who dwells here?”

“I do, tiny blue, oh-so-true, and who are you?”

“I am goldie the fish, who darts and dips.”

“Come inside, and make yourself a home here.”

And so the two of them began to live together. After a time, a little starfish came crawling by. It saw the sea shell and called out, “Shining shell, shining shell, who dwells here?”

“I do, goldie the fish, who darts and dips.”

“I do, tiny blue, oh-so-true, and who are you?”

“I am sandy the starfish who carries a wish.”

“Come inside, and make yourself a home here.”

And so the three of them began to live together.  Along came a sea turtle, paddling by. He saw the sea shell and called out, “Shining shell, shining shell, who dwells here?”

“I do, sandy the starfish who carries a wish.”

“I do, goldie the fish, who darts and dips.”

“I do, tiny blue, oh-so-true, and who are you?”

“I am snappy the turtle who paddles and flips.”

 “Come inside, and make yourself a home here.”
And so the four of them began to live together.

Suddenly before them darted a little sea horse. He was in a great hurry. He saw the sea shell and cried, “I am horse of the sea, please rescue me, for an octopus, he chases me!”

“Let’s bring him inside--a shelter we’ll be!”

Little horse of the sea was safely tucked inside. The octopus came gliding by. He looked this-a-way, he looked that-a-way. But nothing could he spy, save a shining shell that sat nearby.

Said the octopus, “How could that creature disappear so fast?”  Oh-so-quietly the little friends sat, until at last, the octopus went gliding away.

And from that day on, the little friends lived ever safe and sound, in their shining home on the sandy ground.

Directions for a finger puppet: Cut out two pieces from felt. The horse of the sea I modeled on was a beautiful lavender color! If eyes or desired you can use a french knot from embroidery floss or tiny black seed beads. 


Sew around the edges with a blanket stitch or overcast stitch, leaving the bottom of the belly section open if you'd like to use it as a finger puppet.

Marionette option: Add a small stone and lightly stuff with wool and sew up the opening.  Add a string at the head and fin to create a simple marionette!
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