Dancing Daisy Day
A Tom Weston Story
Dancing Daisy Day
t was a beautiful day in the Village: warm, bright and lazy, at that time of the year when the emerald grass of summer gives way to the crisp apple of autumn. Still, not what you would call an Indian summer, because Jack Frost had not yet weaved his first blanket, but a welcome respite to us, nonetheless. With the crops gathered, we now had to fortify our bones, and our spirits, for the coming winter. But not today! Today called for idleness. And so, along with the Mayor and the Sheriff, and almost everyone else from the Village, we lounged outside the Green Dragon Tavern and bathed in the sun and drank refreshing cold cider.
Dancing Daisy Day Children played Ball and Mallet on the green. Harvest time in the Village required all hands to the tiller, to mix my metaphors, children included. Although the work was hard, they still preferred the fields to the classroom. But they would return to school soon enough, tomorrow in fact, and so like us, they made the most of their last day of freedom. But one small child, a girl named Daisy, did not join them. She played alone, at her parents’ side, on the grass by the Tavern. She held a small trinket made from a sheaf of wheat, which some would call a corn dolly or corn mother. Not that the one Daisy held resembled a human doll. Daisy’s father had fashioned it as a dragon, with a red flash of ribbon hung from its mouth, to represent fire. The corn dragon was the symbol of our village for as long as anyone could remember; from the days when there really were dragons, I suppose. The legend is that the dragons make their homes in the fields, where their fire warms the crop roots. When we harvest, we disturb the dragons’ lair and make them homeless. And a homeless dragon is a nuisance, to say the least. So before the dragon becomes a pest, we fashion the last sheaf and give him a home for the winter. When spring comes, we place the corn dragon in the first furrow made by the plough. Daisy danced with the dragon, twirled it around and sang to it gently. Oblivious to the presence of others, Daisy danced freely, but her movements matched the gentleness of her song. Ron, Billy and I exchanged pleasantries with Daisy’s parents, but George, who hates to see anyone excluded from the conversation, spoke to Daisy. “Why are you not playing with your friends?” he asked.
Dancing Daisy Day “I am no good at Ball and Mallet,” replied Daisy, with an abrupt halt to her dance. “Nonsense!” said George, “What has being good got to do with it?” “No one wants me on their team. I am too small.” “Nonsense!” repeated George. “And I am too slow,” added Daisy. “Who says so?” asked George. “Every one.” “Why should you believe them?” “Because I am small; all my brothers and sisters are bigger than me; bigger, taller, stronger and faster. In everything I am last. I can do nothing.” “Nonsense!” said George a third time. Daisy’s mother smiled, as if in apology, and stroked Daisy’s hair. “I am the smallest, slowest, weakest girl in my class - in the whole school,” said Daisy without emotion, as if the facts could not be denied. “That is not true,” denied George. “Yes it is true,” argued Daisy. “What if I could prove you wrong?” asked George. “How?” demanded Daisy. “What do you wish more than anything in the world?” “I would wish to play with the other children.” “That is a straightforward enough wish to grant,” said George. “It’s almost too easy.” “What are you talking about? You cannot make me faster or stronger; and unless I am, they will not let me play with them.” “I am a mighty wizard,” boasted George. “I grant simple wishes all the time.”
Dancing Daisy Day Well, George is many things, but a wizard is not one of them. We began to worry that George, although he meant well, may lift Daisy’s hopes only to dash them. We could not deny it: Daisy was the smallest, most fragile child in the Village. Somebody had to be; there is no shame in that, but it can’t be helped. “George,” we cautioned. “Perhaps we should let Daisy make up her own mind about whether she wants to play with the other children.” “You don’t believe me, either,” said George. “It’s not that - we know you’re just trying to help.” George put down his cider and stood on his bench. “Ladies and Gentlemen, can I have your attention,” he cried. The children halted their game. The villagers put down their drinks. Ron looked at Billy. Billy looked at me. I shrugged my shoulders. “I am a powerful wizard,” shouted George. “And I will grant Daisy her wish to play with the other children.” The villagers smiled. “In fact, that wish is too easy. Tomorrow, I shall make Daisy bigger, faster and stronger than all the other children. When I am finished, the other children will beg to play with her.” The villagers grinned. Perhaps George was going to arm wrestle the children and force their cooperation? “And bigger, faster and stronger than some of you adults too,” he added. The naysayers laughed. Laughter can hurt at times. Daisy emulated the shrinking violet. “Don’t believe me? Assemble on the Green tomorrow and in front of you all I will grant Daisy her wish.”
Dancing Daisy Day The naysayers made crude remarks and asked George to grant their wishes for more drink. The Mayor called for decorum, for the sake of the child and her parents. “Tomorrow is the first day of school,” reminded Daisy’s mother. “Then before school,” insisted George. “At sunrise, yes, that is even better. Tomorrow at sunrise, come and witness the power of the Mighty George.” The villagers laughed and cheered - they enjoyed the spectacle of a man making a fool of himself. The Mayor demanded that the Sheriff restore order. We questioned whether George was drinking something stronger than the cider. “By this time tomorrow, Daisy will be the most popular girl in school,” shouted George. We decided we had heard enough and tried to wrestle George back to his chair. “And I predict that Daisy will be the most popular girl at school for happily ever after,” he cried defiantly, before he climbed down and spoke softy to Daisy. “Tomorrow at sunrise,” he whispered. “And bring your corn dragon.” “Why does a quiet drink at the Green Dragon Tavern always seem to end in a commotion?” I mused.
Just before sunrise next morning, against my better judgment, I went to the Green. I didn’t enjoy the spectacle of a friend making a fool of himself, but George was my fool of a friend and I had to support him. I had half hoped that I had
Dancing Daisy Day dreamed the events of the day before and I would find the Green empty, but, true to his word, George was there. And so were Billy and Ron, and the Sheriff and the Mayor; and the villagers with their children. If George had hoped to make Daisy popular, his plan was not off to a good start. The children whined that the first day back at school was ghastly enough without being abducted from the warm comfort of their beds earlier than expected because of Daisy; and the general consensus held that Daisy could not have been more unpopular. I thought that perhaps Daisy’s parents had at least been sensible enough to keep her away from this pantomime, but I thought wrong. “We could not keep her at home,” said Daisy’s mother. “She insisted that we give George a chance.” “At least someone believes in me,” George smiled at Daisy. “And the most important one, too.” “Let’s get on with it,” cried the set-in-their-ways. “Some of us have work to do.” George nodded, took Daisy by the hand and marched her away from the crowd, toward the east side of the Green. “Come on, Mighty George, we’re waiting,” shouted the naysayers. George crouched down and whispered softly in Daisy’s ear. He then turned, left Daisy on the far side of the Green and walked back towards the Tavern. He took a position in front of the Tavern and turned to face his audience. “Please, all eyes on me while I cast the spell,” he commanded; and he closed his eyes, spread his arms and muttered a few indecipherable words. Nothing happened. The crowd shifted impatiently from one foot to another.
Dancing Daisy Day George opened one eye and peered over the crowd towards Daisy. She was silhouetted against the rising sun. George grinned and cried. “Awake the dragon, awake the dragon!” A shadow appeared behind him. “Look!” cried the Mayor. A dragon, breathing fire and growing larger climbed up the tavern walls and darkened the windows. The crowd gasped. Babies cried. Dogs barked. The dragon shadow spread, big and powerful, until it threatened to consume the Tavern. It turned its head this way and that and its fire danced over the walls. The smaller children joined the babes and dogs in their dismay. “Face the dragon, face the dragon,” commanded George. The dragon shadow stayed and turned menacingly as another shadow appeared - that of a child. The crowd feared for the child. On the east side of the green, Daisy raised the corn dragon so that the shadow it cast on the Tavern wall overwhelmed the smaller child shadow. Daisy hesitated and lowered her arms. The dragon shadow disappeared. “If you do not face the dragon, it will devour us all,” cried George. The crowd held its breath. Daisy tried again and the dragon and child shadows reappeared on the wall. The crowed watched as the child shadow also grew, until it matched the dragon for size. The crowd drew back, intimidated by the size of the shadows, which hinted at the mass and strength of the creatures which cast them. “Now, dance with the dragon,” shouted George. “I can’t do it,” shouted Daisy in reply.
Dancing Daisy Day “You have the power,” cried George. “I saw you dance with the dragon only yesterday.” Daisy began to dance. As she twirled, the sun broke across the green. In harmony with her steps, the shadows on the tavern wall also danced. The reds and oranges of the early morning sun flickered through the shadows as if dragon’s fire. The crowd cheered. The wails of the children and babes turned to laughter. The dogs continued to bark. Daisy danced and sang. The sunlight danced and twirled with her; across the Green; from house to house, over the church and the Green Dragon Tavern. Daisy danced a spectacular show of light and shadow, of fire and song. The crowd laughed and clapped and urged her to continue. The children cried, “Daisy, Daisy, Daisy!” and ran to her, their shadows joining hers at play on the walls as they also tried to dance with the dragon. But Daisy was always too quick for them, and as they came near she would twirl around and cast the dragon shadow elsewhere. Seldom was such a joyous sight seen in the Village. Daisy and the children danced and sang. The shadow dragon danced and the shadow children danced, and the crowd danced, as George waived his arms to conduct them. But all things must pass and as the sun climbed in the sky, the shadows shortened until the effect was gone. The villagers sighed. Daisy and the children ended their dance. Daisy slumped to the grass and clutched the corn dragon to her heart. George left the Tavern steps and walked to her. The villagers followed close behind. “Now Daisy, you must always remember you have this power,” he said to her. “You may be small, but the shadow you cast is as large as the land, so great that everyone is touched by it. Everyone you meet and everyone who hears
Dancing Daisy Day your name, everyone who tells your story. And everyone they meet and tell, and so on until the end of the world.” “Yes, thank you,” answered Daisy. “You made my wish come true. But I wish we could have played a little while longer.” “Come on,” said Daisy’s mother. “We must get you ready for school.” The children groaned. “No, no, no!” cried the Mayor. “In my official capacity as Mayor of this village, I declare this day to be a school holiday.” The children cheered. The parents groaned. “From now on,” the Mayor continued. “On the anniversary of this day, we shall gather on the Village Green at sunrise and Daisy and the other children will dance for us. In return, we shall honor them with our laughter and delight.” “And a day off school,” cried one intrepid lad. “Yes, and a day off school,” echoed the Mayor. “This day shall be known as Dancing Daisy Day.” “Daisy, Daisy, Daisy!” cheered the children.
And that is how the Holiday of Dancing Daisy Day came into being. George was correct; Daisy is now the most popular girl in school. After all, she won her friends an extra day of freedom. Every year we celebrate George’s role in the creation of the Holiday by taking him to the Green Dragon and filling him up with cider.
Dancing Daisy Day “George?” I once asked. “Just for the sake of argument, I can’t help but wonder how things would have turned out if that very first Dancing Daisy Day had been cloudy. What would you have done if the sun didn’t come though that day strong enough to cast any shadows?” “I am a powerful wizard,” replied George. “The Mighty George would have thought of something.”
DANCING DAISY DAY Copyright ÂŠ 2011 by Tom Weston. All Rights Reserved. Visit www.tomweston.com for more Tales from the Green Dragon Tavern.