Children's Stories: I Little Green Witch of the Prairie
Painting of Little Green Witch by Jean Fader
Little Green Witch of the Prairie
Michelle's little wooden-frame house faced the western prairie looking out on miles of green and rolling hills dotted with sagebrush. And far off in the distance she could see the dark gray fringes of the Snowy Range of Wyoming where thunderstorms brewed in the warmth of summer.
One evening in early July Michelle stayed up late listening to her mommy read aloud a Native American story while a thunderstorm rattled and boomed all across the prairie. The story was about a little Shoshone boy whose mother was a trickster witch. She changed him into an antelope to escape from a tipi where she was held captive by an enemy tribe. He was so happy to be running free across the open land back to his own people whom he hadn't seen for three long days.
Michelle went back to her room where her younger brother and sister had gone to bed, and the bright stars came out to twinkle with the rising moon. After her mommy and dad kissed her good night, she quickly fell into a deep sleep.
Soon she began to dream of the Shoshone boy's witch mommy whose power for trickery came from a medicine bundle standing next to her tipi high in the Wind River Mountains. She came flying out of the snowy peaks right down into a cactus plant near Michelle's little house. When the cactus plant, with all its spines, groaned and wiggled with a little green witch coming out of the plant, Michelle giggled in her sleep. The trickster woman had a green pointy face with black eyes and wore a thick spine for a hat. She carried a tiny magical wand and wore beaded moccasins.
The witch laughed aloud as she flew up to the moon tinging it green. July is called the moon of ripening cherries and since its color was slightly red it was a bit bewildered by ithis new color; however, it continued to shine up in the sky with all the stars while the witch brushed all through the sky like a piece of blowing tumbleweed. She swooped low and laughed just like the creaking old windmill near Michelle's house.
This little dream-witch had so much fun swooping and laughing, she didn't even seem like a witch. Michelle couldn't stop giggling in her sleep. But when the sun rose, the witch squeezed right back into the cactus plant outside Michelle's window. Then a green flash of light raced back up to treeline high in the Snowy Range.
After a breakfast of pancakes and wild chokecherry syrup, Michelle told her brother Rich and sister Maureen about her dream. "Really," they asked, is that what you dreamed about?" The three children went to the cactus plant and touched it with their fingers. It prickled them, and they giggled and laughed and ran to the squeaky windmill and down a prairie hill holding out their arms as though they were flying.
Michelle's happy and funny dream brought together the world of sleep with the world of play all day long in the middle of summer on the far reaches of the western prairie. This dream remains vivid in her memory to this day some 35 years later.
Readers interested in having the illustrated booklet version of Little Green Witch of the Prairie can order from Jean Fader, 41 Middlefield, Groton Longpoint, CT 06340 She made this effort largely for her grandchildren and mine.