I had a great time sharing my decorated egg collection with Ms. Leticia’s preschool class. We talked about different types of eggs: quail, chicken, emu. We talked about different types of decoration: painting, dying, carving. Then I shared a story from my manuscript-in-waiting, LEGEND OF THE RUSALKY. The story is about Ukrainian Easter eggs — called pysanky (pih-sahn-KIH). Kids like new words. So do I!
It seems, the story goes, that an evil monster is chained far away on a mountain. Each naughty word, bad deed, or mean thought loosens his chains. He watches and watches every year, hoping this will be the year he is set free. What a disaster that would be! Only one thing can tighten the chains of the monster. At Easter, the pysanky must be made with good thoughts and a loving hand. This binds the monster for another year.
One year was a really bad year. There was calling names, hitting, and dirty shoes thrown everywhere! By the day before Easter, the monster was almost free!
Mother sent the children to bed and brought out the eggs, the dyes, and the piska — the tool used to apply hot wax to the eggs to make patterns. She set to work.
The monster looked desperately about. Only one more bad act would set him free! Surely, there was a girl who forgot to brush her teeth. Or a boy who forgot to feed his dog. Where, where, was that last naughty child? Aha! The monster looked closer. Yes! There was a tiny foot creeping from beneath the covers. A child was creeping from bed to spy on his mother! The monster pulled on his chains. The chains stretched.
Mother worked quickly. With hot wax, she made a pattern of diamonds on the egg. Then she dipped the egg in yellow dye. When dry, she made a pattern of stars with the wax. Then she dipped the egg in green dye. But it takes a long time to make the pysanky — and time was running out!
A hand slipped from beneath the blanket. The monster shook with excitement. Soon he would be free! The child peeped from beneath the blanket. He saw the lights shining in the other room. What fun to see the pysanky before the other children! But that would ruin the surprise. So, he rolled over and went back to sleep.
Mother turned the egg before the hot flame to melt the wax. The beautiful pattern emerged. And the monster was chained for another year.
Story finished, I basked in the eager faces around me. Then one of my preschool friends raised his hand. “So, the monster was chained,” he said. “Why didn’t they just go up and shoot him?”
*Thank you Ms. Leticia and Ms. Anna for the picture.