A Long, Long Time Ago, and Very Far Away, there Lived…

a mom who had two wonderful children named Archibald (Rhys) and Annabel (Kate). They lived in a wild and wonderful castle that they shared with an ogre…

A Long, Long Time Ago…and Very Far Away, There Lived…oh, how I miss those stories! We would snuggle up together, my children and I, and I would start off the same way every time: “A long, long time ago…and very far away, there lived a boy named Archibald and his sister Annabel.” My children would look at me and, eyes wide in awe, ask, “Mommy! Is that us?!?” Archibald and Annabel had wonderful adventures. They traveled far distances to strange and fantastical lands…they were brave and true and intelligent…they built rafts and sailed ships and were never lonely or cold or sad. Their adventures took them to lands strange and fantastical and they met people of all sorts, shapes and sizes…and like Max in Where the Wild Things Are, they would always return to the night of their very own room and dinner would be waiting for them…and it was always hot.
It seems to me that life has a way of robbing children of the elements that make life worth living – the magic and wonder of story, the belief that Santa might exist, the possibility that dragons and elves and fairies live…and that children can be safe wherever they want to go. 

Gordon Lightfoot wrote a beautiful song for his children called “The Pony Man.” It’s on the album Sit Down Young Stranger.



When it’s midnight on the meadow
And the cats are in the shed
And the river tells a story
At the window by my bed
If you listen very closely
Be as quiet as you can
In the yard you’ll hear him
It is the pony man
We’re always there to greet him
When he tumbles into town
He leads a string of ponies
Some are white and some are brown
And they never seem to kick or bite
They only want to play
And they live on candy apples
Instead of oats and hay
And when we’re all assembled
He gives a soft command
And we climb aboard our ponies
As in a row the stand
Then down the road we gallop
And across the fields we fly
And soon we all go sailing off
Into the midnight sky
And as we gaily rock along
Beside a ripplin’ sea
There’s Tom ‘n Dick ‘n Sally
And Mary Joe and me
And the pony man is leading
Cause he’s travelled here before
And he gives a whoop and a holler
At Mr. Moon’s front door
And then we stop to rest a while
Where the soda river glides
Up to the slip comes a pirate ship
To take us for a ride
And the pony man’s the captain
And the children are the crew
And we go in search of treasure
And laugh the whole night through
And when the hold is filled with gold
And the sails begin to strain
And the deck’s piled high with apple pie
We head for port again
Then down the whirling staircase
So swift our ponies fly
And we’re safely in our beds again
When the sunbeams kiss the sky
When it’s midnight on the meadow
And the cats are in the shed
And the river tells a story
At the window by my bed
If you listen very closely
Be as quiet as you can
In the yard you’ll hear him
It is the pony man

I suppose that might have been the genesis of the Archibald and Annabel stories. I wanted my children to feel special, to feel that life was filled with limitless possibility and magical adventure. My 27 year old daughter Kate (aka Annabel) still remembers the stories…and although he doesn’t want to admit it, my manly 23 year old son Rhys remembers them too. So…perhaps Archibald and Annabel will live forever…I’d like to think they will.
A long, long time ago, and very far away, there lived a boy named Archibald and his sister Annabel. They were sailing on the ocean of Midnight in search of pirate treasure and the Secret Bakery of Bin… 

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post. The prompt is “A long, long time ago and very far away, there lived…” Tonight’s prompt is hosted by the ever-awesome Kristi Rieger Campbell of “Finding Ninee,” and yours truly, Deborah Lovel Bryner of “Life is Like a Hand Grenade.” We would love for you to participate…click on the link below.

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10 thoughts on “A Long, Long Time Ago, and Very Far Away, there Lived…

  1. Aw… the stories! I started telling my daughter “door in the floor” stories one day, about being able to leap down a puddle or magical door to another world. She totally believes this can happen. She also believes in fairies and Santa and everything else. My son is three so that goes without saying.
    There's something about believing in magic. I think sometimes it can go into adulthood. You may know that Santa isn't the one giving the gifts, but you can believe in a lot of wonderful things.

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  2. Oh those magical days of kids in bed with me snuggling, giggling, reading, and believing their might be a Santa. Mine are all a little beyond that now, but I do my best to instill an appreciation or at least some awareness of days and stories and family from long, long ago. Gordon Lightfoot. Wow. I haven't listened to him in a long time.

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  3. So glad you're hosting with me this week and I LOVE those stories. I tell my son made-up magical stories as well and it's such fun to do so on the fly – sometimes, I'm surprised by where I go with them even more than he is!

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  4. Thanks! The seal of approval for me is my kids' eyes still light up when they talk about Archibald and Annabel…and who know? Maybe one day I'll get to tell them to my grandchildren.

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  5. When I was a child out in the Alaskan Bush, we were richly blessed with Reuben Gaines, Alaska's Poet Laureate, who had a program on KHAR-AM radio called “Conversations Unlimited.” He told the wonderful tales of Chilkoot Charlie, his sweetheart Diamond-Tooth Gertie and his best friend, Six-Toed Mordechai…I had a good teacher. Mr. Gaines' voice was very much like that of Lowell Thomas, Sr. Great role models..

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  6. I love these stories and I tell my girls Nicole and Elise stories for them. It really stretches my creativity to thinnk it up on the fly and really gets my thought process going.

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