Rainbow photo from my friend Reine Carter. Thanks!!
I was so excited by the kitchen area in kindergarten — it might be part of why I wanted to teach. The bigger part, of course, was how really good my teacher was — even when I “corrected” her about rainbows, telling her my daddy’s story. Poem and story follow . . .
Here’s a photo of me with my dad, from my college days. That dress, which I made, has enough colors for a rainbow.
by Mary F. Garrett
“Rainbows, class, are formed
When rays of light pass
Through tiny droplets of water.
The white light
Splits into all its separate colors
And spreads across the sky,
Appearing to us as a rainbow.”
“Teacher, no, that’s wrong.
The fairies and brownies,
Coming home from a picnic,
Had to cross the river after the rain.
They took all the flowers
They had gathered in their baskets and
Wove them into a bridge to safely cross over.
My father said that’s what we see
When we see a rainbow.”
Teacher, wise and gentle, only said,
“There is more than one way to understand a rainbow.
Ask your father to explain.”
That night my father taught me the difference
Between the facts of the real world and
The Truth of Imagination.
There is a country way far away across the land and across the sea. In this country live many little wee folk. The country is dear old Ireland, sometimes called the Emerald Isle, and the wee little folk of this story are called fairies and brownies. Yes, they are related to the leprechauns.
Now of course, the fairies are sweet, cute little girls, with long wavy hair, dancing little feet, and the prettiest, cutest little wings you ever saw, or ever hope to see. With a sparkle in their eyes, and tosses of their heads, the little fairies danced merrily into the woods one day, to play among the brightly colored flowers. The brave little brownies ran along with them, laughing and singing. Sometimes dancing, sometimes running, they all went into the woods. They were all having lots and lots of fun.
Suddenly it grew dark. a big black cloud had come over, shutting out the light of the sun. There was a big flash of lightning and a loud clap of thunder, and down came the rain. Fast, big drops fell, and there was no shelter anywhere for the wee ones of the woods.
Rain doesn’t bother the brownies. To tell the truth, they like it as well as any little boy does. Oh, but the little fairies, that’s different! They are like little girls dressed in their party clothes. Rain doesn’t really hurt them, but they don’t like it one bit. Not only does it get their dresses all wet, but it also dampens their wings. When a fairy gets her wings wet, she can’t fly. No fairy likes that. Would you?
Soon it stopped raining, and of course the wee ones wanted to go home. The brownies could walk, but it was much too far for the fairies. Besides that, the ditch they had to cross was full of water. How were they going to get home? They couldn’t wait for all the water to run out of the ditch, because they all had jobs to do. You will hear about their jobs in another story.
After much talk and many ideas that did no good at all, the head man brownie told everyone to pick some flowers. After they had picked all the flowers they could find — red ones, blue ones, yellow ones, and the all the other colors there are — the brownies all got busy and built a big bridge. The fairies and brownies all crossed the big ditch on the bridge made of flowers.
A little boy and a little girl saw the bridge that looked like a big bow, and they called it a rainbow. That’s how we got the rainbow in the Land of Make Believe. How do we prove it’s there? Well, we all know that the Land of Make believe is always just over the next hill. Cross that hill and it’s over the next. So you just watch a rainbow some time when you are riding with Daddy, and you’ll see that it, too, is always just over the next hill.