Exemplary Exercises for Children (about 5th grade level)

In the land across the sea, close to the borders of the near and the far, in the sunshine, after new rain – Keith and I were splashing in the mud puddles with our favorite yellow boots. Then we chased a butterfly who seemed to know where to go and sing.

Flutter how spritely brightening wing

Open your eyes forth and outward to swing

Follow the patterns I long to reveal

In pictures of passage from flower to hill

Taking the trail of the open dome of the sky and the high growing Queen Ann’s lace, we set a good pace past the rose buds to the shed where the younger Carol and Connie were making mud pies fresh from the rain.

These had been leavened with dandelion puffs and bird berries for a spice, then covered with pebbles and feathers and laid in the sun to dry, in hope that in time for afternoon tea, Ichabod would arrive.

And indeed, up from the ground, popped he. He’s attired in green and small as can be, with gold on his head, hands and heels, and we children all followed him under the ground such sights there to see, adventures to hear unbound through the years in the span from a wink to a smile. Here’s how he told his tale:

‘Many thousands of years

Before you folks cam here

There was a land under the ground

Call Tooln.

A gold land it was

For deep shone the sun

I was known there as Ikal Pahdmoot

of the Krienol’s

We were surely not dwarves

nor were we elves

But we knew of them both

And as I just told – We were Krienols!

And I saved the King

King Kroleen of Tooln

who was good, strong and true

And to this day is too

Though he’s gone.

I sought out the herbs

Roots, grasses and trees

which were healing to man

which he would still need;

After the flood

had covered the ground

And the new land

Would be revealed.

Such seeds as we sowed

Were to be preserved

In the caverns

Of crystal quartz

Many thousands of years

May yet go by

Before they again thrive

In the gardens of Krienols and men.

But the others, my Krienol friends

Have all gone away

Deeper under the ground

Too much digging goes on

By you men all around

And a Krienol needs his peace

So my folks went away

But I chose to stay.

With you earth children friends

Awaiting the day

When the seeds shall be planted again.’

– Katherine Rudolph

Now three places in space are all that remains of the age-old domain of Tooln: the underground Tower, the round council room with the shimmering pool of Krie. And deeper yet can still be sought, the caverns of crystal quartz, for there are preserved the seeds.

Now on that warm summer day when the mud pies were made and baked in the light of the sun, we all took off, on a run to the shimmering pool of Krie, with Ichabod in the lead.

Now we neared the stream that bubbles and churns, round mossy roots all entwined. A patch of sun shone here and there as the voice of waters flow seemed to chortle and rhyme, telling me of its pebbled path. Ichabod led us down watery streams (lo – we became as small as he) and on a milk pod boat with gossamer sail, we rode that crystal stream through tunnel and cave to the council chamber built round and carved in white.

In the centre, a silvery pool was aglow. ‘Twas the shimmering pool of Krie where picture stories were told and seen and myriad riddles unfold. In the star-eye of KARU we learned to behold. Why the clover loves the rose; How the seed is kindled in night. Where did the stamen meet with the sylph, how the roots and stems are tended by elves and gnomes and of one called Binky for short and why. And a quest road opened in time, a road to the near and the far where all was revealed just a length from the brook that bubbles and rhymes.

But on the very first time, when Connie and Carol and Keith and I (brothers and sisters were we) first gazed into the shimmering pool of Krie dark waters was all we did view then Ichabod told us the rule:

‘You can gaze in dark waters

For as long as you please

But you won’t see a thing

If you don’t have the KEY

What question do you seek?’

For the shimmering pool of Krie can only picture stories that see-that is-which already live in the heart and the eye of the seeker. But whether a seeker at the pool can bring fruit from a story learned in Tooln, in present or future, to do a good deed, will always depend on whether or not he remembers to remember the KEY. Why out of the shimmer of the Krienol Pool we learned ‘The Legend of the Star’, ‘Iggie the Dwarf’ and ‘The Mustard-Lady’s Surprise’… But as I said on that very first time when we gazed, it was Connie, the smallest who wanted to see ‘How does the Moon find the lost sheep on the hills in the darkest night?’

And before we could blink an eye, there in a twinkling, the pool ‘gan to glow and high on a hill we saw shepherd Mo. He was gazing up on a cloudy night, looking about the sky.

‘Whenever the moon and stars are set

Whenever the wind is high

All night long in the dark and wet

A man goes riding by

Late at night when the stars are out

Why does he wander and wander about?

By at the gallop he goes and then

By he goes back at the gallop again.’

– R.L. Stevenson

Up in the air Mo saw the sky and became entranced with the play of wind, and clouds and stars. His 25 sheep were peacefully keeping in the hollow below the ridge. He hardly even noticed how darkened the sky, and gusty the wind had become; when the storm was upon him.

‘Loudly blew the bitter blast

Hail and rain were falling fast

Bank and bushes bleak and bare

Chilling bit the fighting air!’

– From ‘Journey Through Time in Verse and Rhyme – Poems collected by Heather Thomas’

The torrents of bitter weather forced Mo to tend to his sheep. Then the storm flashed by but left the night sky still over clouded and low. But where, where was all the fold? And Mo began to seek and saw that:

‘Rippling and rustling, restless the rill

Rattled and clattered a-down a steep hill.

Rolling and rising o’er ridges of rock,

It frightened and scattered his frisky sheep flock!’

– Anon

Oh, no! The sheep had scattered in all directions, all over kingdom come. And worse than this a thin white mist spread over the rocky hill; weirdly it seemed to echo and ring with the tolling of a lost bell. And out of the black came a cackle and gak. ‘Twas a sound that Mo knew well.

‘Which winds whisk when the witches frisk?

With claws for their toes and brooms for a whisk

Hark, to the whisper of bells in the mist.

While the whirlwinds whistle whither they list.’

– Anon


In great alarm he called to the moon on the other side of the hill. He knew it was due to grace the night sky so he spoke these words with all of his might:

‘Moon on the field and the foam

Moon on the mount and the wold

Moon, bring them home, bring them home.

Safe from the dark and the cold,

Home, sweet moon, bring them home,

Safe with the flock to the fold.’

– Anon

And through the blur in the mist and the dark, the moon ‘gan to glow and gleam. His sheep only numbered 16. So again he sounded the rhyme. And this time 4 more appeared. Now he still was missing 5. So once more, he sounded the verse as the moon rose in the night sky.

‘Moon on the field and the foam….’

And, ‘lo in the dark, 5 white marks came bleating along the hillside. And back in the hollow under the ridge, there gathered all 25:

‘Slowly, silently now the moon

Walks the night in her silver swoon

This way and that way

She turns and she sees

Silver lambs and silver sheep.’

Then in a twinkling and whirl, the shimmering pool of Krie gleaming with blue, darkened its view in the council chamber of age old Tooln, and we climbed on our ship with gossamer sails on the crystal stream, and found our way safely home through the trees.

But as we stepped off the magic path in the bushland purple and green, Ichabod Mud was gone again in the span from a wink to a smile.

-Leela Toomkoh