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Stories from the Rainbow Brite Treasury
compiled by Hilda Young

Green grow the trees

Patty O'Green is very proud of the fact that she is in charge of the Green Star Sprinkles. She always makes sure that the leaves of her trees are bright and shining, in many shades of green.  She loves to tell the other Color Kids lots of interesting facts about her trees.

Did you know: The wood of the buckthorn tree makes good walking sticks and umbrella handles. The wayfaring tree is often called the miller's coat.  It's broad hairy leaves look as dusty as the overall that was worn by the miller as he milled the corn to make flour for the bread.  The flowers of this tree are white, and later, these change to bunches of coral berries.  In autumn, the berries become jet black. The timber of the graceful lady of the woods, the ash tree, was used to make ploughs and harrows, oars for boats and hard-wearing handles for axes and hammers.  It is still used for furniture.

A hazel twig is often used as a divining rod.  Some people try to discover if there is water in the ground, using a divining rod.  It is a forked stick which dips suddenly when it is held over the right spot. There is a willow tree called a cricket bat willow used...yes, for making cricket bats!  The wood from some other willow trees is used for making baskets, the supple shoots being plaited together in very pretty designs.

In Sherwood Forest, in the days of Robin Hood, there was a mighty oak tree which the outlaws stored their food.  It was known as Robin Hood's larder.  Here, bold Robin was said to store the venison he and his men had gained from the King's deer.  Sadly, a mighty oak, said to be Robin Hood's larder, was finally destroyed about 20 years ago after 1000 years in the forest.

Yellow as Canary

Canary Yellow is Rainbow Brite's favorite Color Kid because she is so bright and cheerful, and as chirpy as the little yellow canary whose name she shares. These sweet-singing birds originally came from the Canary Islands.  They were discovered several centuries ago by a band of shipwrecked sailors whose ship, bound for Spain, was wrecked off the African coast.

When the sailors were finally rescued, they brought with them several of these pretty birds which were soon bred as pets for the wealthy.  In Victorian times, almost every household had a little canary in a cage and this ‘prince of songbirds’ brightened up a dull day with its cheery sweet song. Although yellow is a familiar and common color for a canary, there are also some different colored canaries. 

There are light red ones and yellowish green ones and even canaries with lizard-like colorings, to mention just a few variations. There are two kinds of singing canaries: the chopper and the roller.  The roller canary is a sweet singer but does not sing as loudly as the chopper whose song is a clear ‘chop, chop, chop’ sound.

If you would like to keep a canary, first ask your parents if you can have one and then visit a reputable shop.  Talk to the shopkeeper and ask for advice about equipment and food.  You must remember, however, that a canary, like all pets, needs attention.  If you are not prepared to spend time looking after it, find another interest.

The best time to buy a canary is in the autumn or early spring before it starts to molt.  Try to buy one about one year old as this is the beginning of a canary's singing period.  Although some canaries live as long as 16 to 17 years, most have a life span of seven or eight years.  With suitable housing and care, you and your canary will spend many happy years together.

Forecast the weather

Rainbow Brite likes the weather to be fine for as long as possible.  Long ago, before we had satellites to help us forecast the weather, country folk took notice of signs in the sky or what was happening in nature to predict what kind of weather was coming. You can look at the signs yourself and see if they work.

Blue sky breeches:

It is often said that if there's enough blue in the sky to make a sailor a pair of trousers, that will give you enough time to dry your washing!

Red sky warning:

Shepherds up in the hills would look up at the sky first in the morning and then again at night.  The color of the sky would tell whether their sheep would go to bed dry or wet.  The old rhyme goes like this: Red sky at night, shepherd's delight Red sky at morning, shepherd's warning

Poor man's weather glass:

If children wanted to know if it was fine to go for a picnic, they would look at the wild flower known as the poor man's weather glass -- the scarlet pimpernel.  If this pretty flower's petals were open, the sun would continue to shine, but if they were closed tightly it was about to rain!

Holly berries:

In a year when the holly bushes were thick with red berries people believed that a long, hard winter was ahead.

Oak and ash forecast:

Foresters used to watch to see on which trees the leaves first appeared. An old rhyme says: Oak before ash, In for a splash! Ash before oak, In for a soak. Early oak leaves meant a warm summer with little rain; early ash leaves meant a very wet summer!

Yellow and gold flowers:

To see a cluster of marigolds was always thought to be the sign of a good day.  These pretty golden flowers were said to have been given their name in honor of Jesus' mother, Mary's, gold. Another old weather superstition was that if you could find twelve yellow primroses growing together, or twelve daisies growing in long grass, that was a sure sign that spring had really arrived.  Then you could start wearing your thin summer clothes!

Animal antics:

Some animals were thought to be good at predicting the weather.  When cows, especially black and white ones, lay down in a field it meant that a storm was due. If a horse neighed continually through the night in a stable, this also meant that a storm was due. Farmers would then make sure that their animals were all safely inside before the storm broke. Owls screeching in the night foretold bad weather, but the call of the cuckoo usually heralded a lovely spring day! If a cat was unusually frisky and full of energy, or, as sailors and country folk said, 'had a gale in its tail', stormy weather was on its way.

The reason why

Shy Violet knows lots of facts about different colored things.  The other Color Kids are always pleased to listen to her.

The dandelion, that lovely golden yellow flower, is not called a dandelion because it is like the golden head of a handsome lion, but because the French thought that each leaf resembles le dent de lion -- a lion's tooth.

That shy creature, the badger, who hunts at night for food, gets its name from the badge of black and white stripes on its face.

The goldcrest, Britain's smallest and one of its prettiest birds, get its name from the little golden crest on its head.

The red admiral butterfly was said to have been named after an admiral who wore a very smart red, black and gold-trimmed uniform! 

In order to frighten their enemies, the Ancient Britons would paint their bodies with a blue dye.  They got this from the plant called woad.  By mashing the leaves, a paste was produced which the Britons used to paint their bodies.

Red as...

The mandarin's ruby:

The blood red ruby has always been considered a valuable stone and in olden days people believed that anyone wearing one could not be made ill by drinking poison.  The ruby would change the drink into harmless water, but this, of course, is nonsense! The ruby was also greatly valued by the mandarins of ancient China as a jewel of great honor.  There were several ranks of mandarin and each wore a button in his hat to denote his rank.  The buttons were made out of various substances such as shells, crystal and silver, but the highest mandarin of all wore a ruby in his hat!

The Red Sea:

No one is actually quite sure why the Red Sea was given its name.  It was named by the Romans, perhaps because the glow in its waters reflected from the eastern Sun makes it look red, or perhaps because of the coral on its sea bed.  Others say it was because of the red color given to it by the reeds it contains.

A red letter day:

In olden days, holidays were few and far between and were eagerly awaited by everyone as a rest from their long hours of toil.  Most of the days were feasts and saint's days, and calendars used to show these dates in red rather than black so that they would stand out for everyone to see.  We still talk of a red letter day today, meaning a day when something rather special happened. Have you had a red letter day recently -- your birthday or a trip out perhaps?

Robin redbreast:

The robin is a friendly bird and often brightens our days with is cheery song.  An old legend tells that when he saw the Crown of Thorns on Jesus’ head he flew down and tried to pull it off, staining his breast with blood as the cruel thorns pricked him.  Although the kind little bird could not pull off the thorn crown, his deed would always be remembered whenever anyone saw his red breast.

Stars in the sky

Rainbow Brite and the Color Kids use Star Sprinkles to bring color to Rainbow Land.  If you look into the sky on a clear night you will see patterns of different stars called constellations.  The Greeks named many of them after their heroes of mythology, as they were thought to be shaped like animals or people.  A band of 12 constellations is called the Zodiac; the constellations are called the signs of the Zodiac.

The Spring Stars:

Aries, the Ram, is the first sign of the Zodiac and many people believe that the constellation was the fabulous ram whose golden fleece was sought by Jason and his argonauts.  The ram had carried two children, Phrixus and Helle, away from their stepmother who hated them.  Helle fell into the sea, but Phrixus reached land where he sacrificed the ram to Zeus and gave the golden fleece to Aeetes, the king of that country. Aeetes hung it from a tree and set a dragon, who never slept, to guard it. The constellation of Taurus, the bull, can be seen fighting mighty Orion, the hunter.  Two bright stars, Betelgeuse and Bellatrix, form the hunter's shoulders and there are three more bright stars forming his belt. Another star consellation is Gemini, the Twins.  The two brightest stars are Castor and Pollux, named after the sons of god Jupiter, and a beautiful maiden name Leda.  They are sometimes called the ‘sailors stars’, for when sailors see them burning brightly in the sky, they prepare for a very bad storm!

The Summer Stars:

Although we call the next constellation Cancer, the Crab, other nations call it the beetle or even the tortoise. One of the twelve labors of Hercules was to kill the hydra -- an enormous serpent with nine heads.  Juno sent the crab to bite Hercules’s foot when he was attacking the terrible hydra, but he survived to kill the crab! Another constellation in the Zodiac is Leo the Lion.  Legend said that rivers flooded when the lion came to drink so the gods banished him to the sky. There were several ideas as to the origin of the Virgin or Maiden Star group known as Virgo.  One said it was Persephone who had to spend one-third of the year with Hades in the underworld.  She had eaten six pomegranate seeds, a symbol of marriage, when Hades had tried to persuade her to become his wife.  Her mother, Demeter, Godness of the Earth, is said to mourn during this part of the year, causing winter to come, but when her daughter returns to Earth, flowers bloom and the corn grows ripe.

The Autumn Stars:

The consetellation of Libra, the Scales, recalls the legend that only one whose heart is lighter than a feather may enter Mount Olympus, home of the Gods.  The Scales weigh the hearts.  Another legend is that the Scales weigh Night and Day to ensure that they are equal. Scorpius, the Scorpion, a near neighbor of Libra in the sky, has a bright red star in its constellation which is thought to be unlucky. Sagittarius, the Archer, was supposed to be the wise old centaur, Chiron, who taught many of the Greek heroes.  Chiron was, as all centaurs, half man and half horse.  When he died, Zeus put him among the stars.

The Winter Stars:

Capricornus, the Sea Goat, is the constellation from which the sign Capricorn comes.  It was said that Pan, the great god of music, took on form when he offended anyone and wished to escape their anger. Aquarius is the Water Carrier.  He can been seen pouring water from his pitcher.  This was thought to be Ganymede, a beautiful youth who served drinks to the gods. The final constellation of the Zodiac is Pisces, the Fishes.  A legend says that Venus, the godness of beauty, and her son, Cupid, were once tied together by another mischievous god.  They only escaped by turning into silvery fishes.

The Kingfisher -- a real rainbow bird

If you are very quiet and rather lucky you may see a kingfisher diving for fish in a stream when you are out in the country. Legend has it that the kingfisher, anxious to be the most handsome of all the birds, flew up to the sky.  He flew higher even than the mighty eagle and dipped his wings and body into the rainbow. Because the kingfisher's rainbow ended by the banks of the stream, this brilliantly colored bird always lives near water in case he needs to dip his feathers into the rainbow again!

Another legend is about the kingfisher's eggs.  Although in actual fact the kingfisher often builds a nest for its eggs in the river bank, people once believed that this bird laid its eggs in the river itself or in the sea.  During this time, until the eggs were hatched, the weather was lovely and warm, and everyone felt happy and cheerful.  These were wonderful ‘halcyon days’ which everyone remembered with pleasure.  Halcyon is the Latin word for kingfisher.

The kingfisher has bluish-green upper feathers on its body and head and warm chestnut underfeathers.  It has a long, straight black bill and red legs.  It eats mainly fish and perches on a branch of a tree overhanging a river, waiting for the right moment to dive for a fish.  Or, you might see one hovering above the surface of the water looking for fish. 

When the male bird goes courting, he often offers his mate a fish as a present.  If she accepts the two birds start to build their nest and raise a family. The female kingfisher lays about six eggs during May and when the babies are born the parents are soon busy fishing for food for them.    

Winter is a very hard time for kingfishers, as streams and rivers often become iced over, and fishing is then impossible.  When this happens, in order not to starve, kingfishers sometimes move to the coast until spring returns.



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