Date: May 26, 2010
Title: StarryTelling (TM) at Takoma Park Middle School
Podcasters: Delaney, Hans, Lily, Emma Rose, Raven, Sabrina, Kayan, Harper, Harper,Raven, Yvonne
Description: These amazing stories will transport you from the origin of the universe to the solitary path of the Moon, from the first mistake ever made to a Pacific beach with a boundless night sky. They were imagined by students from the Takoma Park MS after-school creative writing club. Some were featured at the I’m a StarryTeller program under the stars at the Einstein Planetarium, National Air and Space Museum.
Bio: Takoma Park MS is located just outside Washington DC in Takoma Park, MD, a city known for its dedication to public arts projects and festivals. The creative writing teachers said of this project: “Our school is magnet science and math so to praise the creative side of students is something special” and “It gives them a great sense of validation to hear their stories in a museum.” Special thanks to teachers Dina Beatty, Kathryn Medland, Tracy Mickens-Hundley, Bryan Goehring and Principal Renay Johnson.
Today’s sponsor: This episode of “365 Days of Astronomy” is sponsored by the Equational Theorem Prover E, http://www.eprover.org
The universe was still. Suddenly a light burst open. Fire catching the black glow and spinning stories and warmth from it. And the flames licked at the vast blackness. The flames crackled and burned. The universe had created something beautiful. The sun had been formed. But it wasn’t done yet.
With smaller, lighter flashes of light, twinkling stars made their way across the blackness, glowing and flickering. And still, more wondrous beauty came. Water, true blue water, rushed out of nothing, curling itself into a ball. Green and brown and white slowly crept across the blue ball forming land. The universe, filled with mirth, continued on and on until the whole blackness was filled.
“There,” it thought. “Now it’s not so lonely anymore.”
And as the stars twinkled the sun burned, the earth slowly spun on and all the other planets turned and continued to hold such wonder. People were born on earth. They evolved and the earth filled and filled; its people beginning to explore too. Everything twisted and turned and stayed in motion. And in its funny way, everything synched….Not so lonely at all.
Our solar system, our galaxy and even the heavens have been around for trillions of years. They were created long ago by the great god Time
Time, you see, wanted something that could never stop growing. So he planted a tree, this tree was called the universe. This tree would grow and grow creating fruits, now called galaxies, And seeds in those fruits, now called solar systems. At first our universe was nothing but a small tree. But then, as it kept growing so did the amount of galaxies and solar systems. The God Time was so happy that he stopped caring for his magical tree.
Because of this, the fruits of the tree fell off and their centers rotted and died. Luckily, the wizard noticed in time to spare our solar system. The wizard’s need for a companion created us and perhaps many other solar systems.
Sitting on the beach, the waves gently lapping the shore, the rush of the ocean filling my head as I gaze up at the night sky. One star, then another, they seem to pop out of the black nothingness and suddenly there are millions of lights overhead twinkling, glowing, lighting up the sky. I shake my head in wonder, a smile slowly forming on my lips.
We are so small and the universe is so big, I realize, we are one of trillions. We may be the only planet we know of that supports life but even our knowledge only reaches so far. As my eyes try to take in everything, more stars seem to reveal themselves. There are so many, way too many to count.
In the center of it all, my eyes find the Milky Way, a bold streak of near-white connecting one side of our world to the next. Out here in the middle of the Pacific, there are no boundaries. The sky stretches from horizon to horizon. Back home in the city, the air is polluted. The night sky is riddled with smog and these stars are blocked out by artificial light. But with a whole universe of stars watching over me, I know we are not alone. I close my eyes and the stars fill my head. They’re always there the stars are, always. Sometimes you have to get away, maybe to an island in the Pacific, to be able to see and appreciate the hidden wonders of the world.
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, before we had a planet, before there was a galaxy, there lived a race of perfect beings. They lived not on land, but floating around. Because back then, the universe was not full of things, and stars and rocks and planets and discord and chaos as it is now, but each object had a place, on a shelf, locked behind a door, in the corner of the universe. And in the center of the corner of the universe, there was the home of the race of the perfect people.
These perfect people, Freppecks, looked like giant humans. They used human tools, ate human foods, and in every way but one, they were giant humans but the only difference was that Freppecks, never made mistakes. They always said the right thing, made the right choices, and never were clumsy. Life was nice, but boring.
One Monday, a little girl, maybe three or four, woke up in the middle of the night scared from a nightmare. She ran to get her mother who hugged her and told the little girl that she would be all right. She got the girl a glass of warm milk, but when the girl took the cup, still trembling from her nightmare, the girl dropped it and spilled milk…….
For a second there was complete silence as the girl and the mother stared at the cup on the floor. No one had ever dropped anything before this.
It was the first mistake, and the sheer energy of it blew open the door that locked all of the objects in the corner of the universe.
Out came stars, asteroids, planets and every sort of amazing thing filling the empty space. And, in honor of the first mistake, when that child was the first one to mess up, the first one to do something a little out of place, the first one to spill milk, we, homo sapiens named our galaxy the Milky Way.
Staring up into the stars, wondering what it would be like to be able to swim in that endless pool of natural beauty and light. Drifting to a light blue star with a slight kick of your feet, hugging a warm, intense heat, but no being. Arranging reds, purples and blues in a battle scene that a young boy could spend hours in, galloping, laughing far away from his slimy, slick spinach sitting on a plate far, far away.
Suddenly the shining soldiers become a part of a glistening slide that no toddler, preteen or even childish adult had ever ridden before. Crouching not far away an unspun merry go round begging to be ridden, begging to share the laughter, the soundless laughter with the sparkling maidens whose homes, brilliant homes, stand by the rings of Saturn.
Maybe a movie of finding aliens and planets is playing up there but who would want the dreams of star maidens and playmates, the stories of brave soldiers and running boys to disappear? Staring into the stars is a pastime to most, but to me it is much, much more.
Listen. Listen past the noise of the busy modern world. of the honking cars and flashing lights. Listen for the voice that sings with pure sadness and a wish for freedom. I’m going to tell you a love story, a love story that has a happy beginning but a bittersweet end, a love story unlike no other.
A long long time ago, very long ago, in fact, much farther back than anyone can remember, there was a time when humans and the gods coexisted in the world. There was Rain, a virtuous goddess that loved the people. There was Dawn who awakened the laborers every morning with her crimson light. And there was Sun, an ogre, and that is an understatement.
He hated humans. He hated the very sight or smell of them. Every day he crossed the sky with his dazzling, blinding rays. He was angry and bitter.
Sun lived with his mother and she knew that after his trek across the sky she would have to calm him down with a nice portion of roast lamb. His mother was a sweet, kind, gentle woman. She listened to the complaints of the people who told her of her son’s wickedness. She tried her best to curb her son’s violent temper, but with no avail.
Her name was Dusk and she would always drag her son home at the end of the day if he pitched one of his violent fits of anger to the humans below him. Dusk would often disguise herself as a laborer and come down from the sky and listen to the people and give them advice about how to please her son and what was a good time for a harvest. She would counsel children and give good advice to all people, rich or poor. Her son never knew.
He was too sullen and moody to notice where his mother went when he was not home. One day, on one of these excursions, Dusk was walking along the banks of a stream when she saw a basket through the clumps of the tall reeds. Curious, for even the gods have their temptations, she waded into the stream and picked up the basket. Inside, wrapped tightly in cotton white blankets, there was a baby girl. Her face was tanned and her mouth was a perfect rosy pink. Her cheeks were round. Her hair was raven black and her eyes, her eyes….They were a color that Dusk had never seen. They were a misty silver, not a cloudy, muddy color, but a sharp and defined silver, the color of vapor before it dissolves into the air.
Dusk sat down on the bank of the river and took the girl out of the basket. The child smiled showing a set of pearly white teeth. Dusk tickled her and the child laughed. Alas! It sounded like the silver bells that the goddess Dawn carried around with her.
” I will take this child home with me. It seems like no one wants her, but I do” Dusk thought to herself. So she picked up the child and took her home to the house of the Sun in which she lived. Once home, Dusk cooked the meal and kept a watchful eye on the baby girl. She seemed curious in everything, never crying or whining. Dusk was just heating up the food when she heard the heavy tread of her son’s boots.
The girl! What would he say? What would he do to her? Quickly Dusk seized the child and her blankets, and packed her away in a dark cupboard. Just in time too, as her son stepped in the moment after she had locked the cabinet.
“Did you have a nice day?”
“Terrible,” her son said, finishing the conversation.
Dusk poured out the soup and cut a big portion of lamb for her son. She sat down nervously while he ate, ringing her hands in her lap. She meant to appear calm, but she was only thinking about the baby girl in the dark cabinet.
“ Something wrong, mother?” her son asked, pausing between a bite of lamb and a spoonful of soup to look up at his mother.
“What? Oh, nothing. Just a bit tired.” Dusk responded distractedly.
“Eat some then.”
“Oh, yes. Maybe that’s what I need,” Dusk said absentmindedly and served herself a bit of soup. But she didn’t eat it. She played around with her spoon, got up, paced around the room and stared out the window. Her son gave a great belch of satisfaction.
“Excellent meal, mother. Now pardon be for being so bold but you seem very nervous and distracted, and I think, “ her son said, and paused for dramatic effect, “ I think, I smell a human in here.”
Before his mother could dissuade him of the idea, he jumped out of his seat and flung open the cabinets and drawers. He came upon the cabinet in which the girl was locked into. Why is this locked he demanded kicking at the cabinet and shaking it.
“Don’t!” his mother screamed. Only thinking of the baby girl inside. And how she would surely be dead by now. Dusk rushed upon her son and flung him aside and unlocked the cabinet. Thinking only of the beautiful girl inside.
“Ah ha! What is this?” Her son exclaimed eyes flashing with fire. “You’ve been harboring a human?”
The baby girl frowned at him and he stopped dead. He looked and she smiled. He tickled her and she laughed. He smiled back at her. “We will keep this girl mother, and when she grows older she will be my bride and we shall call her Moon.”
So the child grew up and she was beautiful. She had a calming effect on the Sun and he became gentle and kind. Moon was always wanted and loved. But there was something Moon wanted that she could never have. It was freedom. Moon was Sun’s most prized possession and he never left her alone except for his daily trek across the sky. Dusk, feeling sad for Moon, gave her a magic lantern so that at night, Moon could walk across the sky and enjoy a small portion of freedom. So that is why we have the phases of the Moon.
On some days, Moon has the whole night to wander the sky. But most nights Sun will let her out only for a while and then bring her back inside. During the day, Moon sings a song full of sadness when Sun is walking across the sky. So next time you are sitting outside listen for Moon’s song. Listen, just Listen.
I was in Louisiana. The sky was as dark as a witch’s hat when I suddenly went to fill up the bucket of water for my horse and I look up and a shooting star goes by. I make a wish.
As I was walking toward the stables, I dropped my buckets and started to run! A black hole was chasing me. It was so strong, I tried to hold on to the roof of the house but my house was disappearing into thin air. My parents passed away a year ago so I was living with my stubborn old housecleaner.
I was getting weaker. I didn’t have the strength to hold on anymore so I let go. I was being sucked into a black hole! It was like being swallowed by a ginormous monster. When I got to the end of the hole, I was floating. I had no idea where I was. I felt like I was in a trance. Something was making me float.
Something was making me feel weightless. I opened my eyes and I found out that I was in space, yes, space! From the planet of blue and green to the galaxy of purple, black, red and brown. As I was going forward, I started to feel hot. I was sweating and my skin was burning. It was so bright. I was going blind. I was near the sun. I tried to pull myself away but I couldn’t. It was controlling me. I was an inch away from being burnt into millions of pieces, 10 seconds away. Boom! I was a star. Every night I look down on Earth and shine brighter than the sun.
It all started when I was bored in Math class. Ouch! What was that? I looked around me and I saw, well, nothing! Call me crazy but there was honestly nothing. I was scared. I mean, where was I? I was unsure of everything. And I really wished I had a clue. After thinking it over I realized I’d better look around. It was just white, all around me One step. Two steps. I was walking. I just didn’t know what I was standing on. Weird, right? I continued on my path for quite some time until, could it be… something, something in this world of nothing? I walked closer to the source. Hoping to find it and then this soft faint movement came closer and closer until it was so loud it was blasting my ears. I unwrapped my jacket from my waist and used it to muffle the sound. The source sounding like it was something boiling, raging, burning . I knelt down and realized it was hot!
What is that? I wondered. I kicked the whiteness and something inside me said, Run! So I took off running faster than I ever had . …and the boiling whiteness got bigger and bigger and poof! a shock A pin falling from a table, a lamp being turned on, a click, a whisper, that was all it was. I got up and realized there was color! And people, well, if you could call them that .They weren’t humans. I guess they were what you would call aliens? They were pink and gray and purple and blue and all the colors you could ever imagine. They were strange and I was curious. I walked up to one of them and said, “Where am I?” “You are on planet Goretox. You saved our kind.” I stood there, bewildered. The next day I was home again. I don’t know how, but I was! I got a note on my pillow when I woke up. It read. “Dear Harper, Thank you for saving us. If you ever want to visit. Just call 123 456 789 0 and you will be teleported here. Love, your friends at planet Goretox.” And you bet I had summer plans.
I look up around me. I’m surrounded by magic. Darkness glimmering. Opposite and beautiful. Amazing. You never imagine that this kind of hope exists. It’s astonishing, I can’t believe how luck I am to have been part of the magical and mystical experience that we call the night sky. I wish I could lie hear looking up at magic forever. But there are dishes to be done.
Letting go was the hardest part. Being able to leave behind family and friends, pets, but most importantly, the comfort of ground beneath your feet. Being able to lift off from life as we know it. The next day your company won’t be goofy uncles or drooling cousins. You’ll be surrounded by wondrous shades of crying blue, bleeding reds and yellows glowing with the memories of dandelions and summer suns. Yep! It’s certain, Dorothy, we’re not in Kansas anymore.
Dark blue, purple skies. Looking up at them. The stars look just like little flies. The Sun goes to bed like he would and should do. The Moon and her starry friends came out and flew. The games began. The stars and Moon dance, around and around, swirling, twirling, very few see them but they don’t care. Little can be done to destroy such fun. The Moon and her friends are hungry. They want a snack. The cookies bake. The milk is poured. As food is eaten, the little bits remain, spinning in the Milky Way. Time flies by when there is so much fun. The Moon and stars don’t want their fun to be done. Moon’s brother starts to wake. He scolds her and tells dear little flake, “Playtime is up your turn is over.” She heads to sleep as her dear brother soars. Her time may be up but there is always fun to be had, much more to be done.
End of podcast:
365 Days of Astronomy
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