stars tremble on high

Author: angiem, 12 03rd, 2009

full moon

full moon (but not last night's)

The moon was full last night, iced and frosted, the wind so strong it broke the clouds apart and scattered them across the sky.  Husband was gone to one of his soccer matches, and I was alone with my little darlings who were running crazily upstairs and downstairs playing hide-and-seek, by the light of amber colored lamps.

Hide-and-seek was a favorite childhood game for us as children.  As I gathered my darlings around the Advent wreath and switched from lamps to candles, I told them the story of how I had gotten lost during a game of hide-and-seek I had been playing with my cousins one summer at my Tanti Marie’s place in the village.

Tanti Marie had been gone to tend to her large vegetable and flower garden across the dirt road from her house that morning, leaving all the cousins in the charge of the oldest, who couldn’t possibly have been more than fourteen.  This cousin was in love with Luca, the neighbor boy (we called him Luca Buca), and she had no interest in minding half a dozen kids.  And so we made our way across the road, through the narrow alley between the gardens and down to the river.

Now we were not allowed at the river by ourselves.  Although shallow and narrow, the waters were fast moving and the man made bridge, usually a thick tree trunk the village men had placed there, could roll and trap someone underneath.  But we didn’t understand these warnings because we were children and words such as these meant nothing to us.  So Tanti Marie scared us with the threat of being kidnapped by the band of Gypsies who camped down the river, where the village ended and the wild forests took over.

We had seen the gypsy women before with their colorful kerchiefs and embroidered aprons dangling gold coins.  How fascinating they were!  Some had mouths filled with gold teeth!  They came through the village, knocking at the courtyard gates, asking if there was some work that needed to be done.  We wanted to stare at them just as openly as they were staring at us.  Yet Tanti Marie would have none of that.  They were after fair-skinned children, they would put us in their sacks, carry us to their camp and make us their slaves.  We didn’t know what slaves were exactly, but we didn’t want to find out.

As we started playing, I forgot about the warning, and ventured far off along the banks, in search of the perfect sized cluster of bushes where I could hide.  I hid and waited.  And waited.  And waited. But no one came to look for me.  And other than the chirping of the birds, the air was silent.  Suddenly I became fearful.  I had no idea where I was or how to get back.  There were no houses or gardens around.  Only trees, some so low their branches almost touching the water.

I got myself into such a state of panic, that I just sat and cried.  Suppose the Gypsies came.  Or suppose the wild bears came out of the woods in search for fish.  And what if it got dark, and no one would come looking for me?  What would I eat and where would I sleep?  I don’t know how much later it was that a Gypsy woman came into the clearing with her metal tub filled with wash.  She saw me crying and stopped, setting her wash down and slowly coming to me.

She knew who I was, and where my Tanti Marie lived, and took me there promptly.  And Tanti Marie, despite her love and her tenderness, felt she had to teach the other kids a lesson about obedience.  She asked that my cousin and I go and pick out a switch from one of the trees in the courtyard.  With tears streaming down her face, she asked that we hold our palms out, lashing across each ten times.

As I tucked my son in, he asked if I had learned to be obedient that day.  He knows just as I did and still do, how difficult obedience is.  And I admitted to him that the experience taught me to equate obedience with fear.  It wasn’t until years later that I learned to equate it with responsibility.


22 Responses to “stars tremble on high”

  1. Jessica Says:

    What an interesting story. I like your ending line, and hope my kids learn the same. So you saw a real gypsy? Too cool!

  2. Anka Says:

    So I’m sitting at starbucks,drinking my coffee and reading ur blog…tears r striming down my face and people r stearing…lol!but Angie ,this reminds me so much of home,and my grandma,wich sadly is fighting for her life right now,that I cannot stop my memories floding my mind and soul…so thank u,it’s a great start of day for me…mwah!

  3. Renee Khan Says:

    There is something in that dear Angie. That what you feared most actually saved you.


    I love your stories and I love your comment and am so happy that you played along with me.

    Love Renee xoxo

  4. Ruth Says:

    You have inherited your mom’s ability for wonderful storytelling. I wonder you weren’t afraid of the gypsy woman, who was kind and generous to take you back home. My best friend would spend summers at her grandma’s house in the country, where the same stories of the gypsies kidnapping kids manipulated their obedience.

  5. Vicki Archer Says:

    Big lessons in your wonderful words Angie…Have a very happy weekend, xv.

  6. Jena Says:

    Angie I am struck once again by the intelligence of your boy. What a joy and wonder for me to read about your childhood. But mostly what a joy to read about the wonderful efforts you make to give your boy and girl a happy childhood.

  7. Kary Gonyer Says:

    So happy you stopped by..and I feel so lucky to have found YOU !

    What a wonderful blog…I’ll read more this weekend…

    LOVE the photo of the Moon….

    more later,

  8. Bebe Says:

    Gorgeous image of the moon. Gypsies… Wow! I like the pictures you paint with your words. Feels like I am there.

  9. Susan R. Mills Says:

    Awesome story! Thanks for sharing.

  10. La Belette Rouge Says:

    There is a poetry to your prose and a wise morality to your bedtime story. Lovely post, as always.

  11. Make Do Style Says:

    Now that is a great story to have experienced on lots of levels. So glad you told us!

  12. Bridgette Says:

    A wonderful way to pass along a very important lesson to our children.
    Never judge a book by it’s cover, and, a little fear is a good thing.

  13. Ligia Says:

    Dear Angie, I have been lost for a few days… I was reading all your blogs… from Thanksgiving until this one…I enjoy reading you so much, it just calms me and gives me comfort like chocolate… by the way I got addicted to Godiva´s dark chocolate bars …. I do not know what is going on with my body!
    anyways…. love this story and how I can learn about your chlildhood the place and all that it involved when you were growing up… is so delicious to read you and you also get into a deep message about a lesson or valule… love your philosphy on you being a cook and how you take the way the turkey gets out of the oven…jaja…
    happy Thanksgiving … Christmas is almost here… miss you girl… have not had the time to check facebook, have been working crazy hours. but at night or dawn I have been thinking i have to get in touch with you… take care and keep writing…

  14. Jill Kemerer Says:

    I love how you told this–full of suspense. I also love that the Gypsy woman made sure you were safe.

    Have a terrific weekend!

  15. Wendy Says:

    I love this story. It says so much about fear. The irony that the people who are supposed to keep us safe are the ones who instill the fear, and that the things we fear aren’t scary at all–that’s something we all grew up with to one extent or another. A lovely read, as always!

  16. Holly L Says:

    You tell amazing stories. I was riveted to the screen. What a wise boy you have! I love your ending about equating obedience with responsibility, it is too often taught with fear.

  17. Susu Paris Chic Says:

    You have a gift of story-telling. I’ll show my artwork when it’s ready, I promise. If you browse my blog’s earlier posts under the art category, you can see some.

    Have a sweet and cozy weekend!

  18. laura Says:

    Such a story! I think it is such a gift you give your children in the sharing of them. Isn’t it precious how it is our stories that they want to hear the most?

    You are passing along a strong heritage of grace.

    Happy Advent.

  19. deb @ talk at the table Says:

    I read this earlier, but am back to comment. This was just so vivid and wonderful.
    You truly know how to grab a reader’s heart .
    Hope you’re having a great weekend, Angie !

  20. Ani Says:

    Great story Angie! This reminded me so much of my childhood. We lived close to a stream and a river. The gypsies made there home really close across the stream, so that was the same scare my mother had for us growing up. If you go near the water the gypsies will get you and make you slaves… lol… it sure kept me away… lol… Except for when there was a group of us crazy kids than we’d make our way across the man made bridge to the other side of the stream… I can still feel the suspense…

    Great story…

  21. Jennifer Says:

    You pulled me back to childhood in this post, where things are mysterious and unknown and alive with possibility.

    I think so many of us learned as children to equate obedience with fear of punishment. This is something I struggle with with my son. It is a challenge to come up with playful ways to encourage obedience, and at my worst moments I use threats. Not physical ones, of course. I need to spend more time thinking of ways to encourage good behavior without scaring him into it!

  22. audrey Says:

    my goodness, here you mix such an exciting picture with the beauty of the nature and love around you and your friends as a child, as well as the terror of being lost and afraid. i felt like i was in the middle of a children’s book filled with fear as well as awe.

    so glad you were found…

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