Once upon a time, a canoe descended from the sky and touched the earth, not far from where a tribe of people had settled. As the tribe slept, seven young sisters leapt out of the canoe and began to dance, sing and laugh. They were out until the first rays of light touched the horizon. Then they climbed back into their canoe and sailed into the sky. Even as they ascended, they were always laughing and singing.
One little child woke that night and said she had seen strange young women laughing and dancing. No one believed her -- until a second night, when the canoe came again. This time there were two children who saw the canoe land. The children watched through the night as the women sang, danced and laughed.
The children told others. A few nights later, the older brother of one of the children was hiding behind some bushes when the canoe landed in the middle of the night. As it descended, he watched in awe. He held his breath as the sisters climbed out of the canoe. The young women were so beautiful that he could not stop staring.
As they were singing and dancing, they noticed the young man hiding in the bushes. They ran back to their magic canoe and sang as it rode back into the sky.
But in their haste to escape, they left one of their sisters behind.
The young woman was shaken, but the brother was completely taken with her.
"I love you," he told her. "I wish to marry you. I loved you the moment I saw you."
She came to trust him, and they returned to his tribe.
The young man announced that they would marry, and everyone celebrated their marriage. This woman was special. Some people did not believe she came from the sky, but others sensed she had a kind of magic and hoped that it would spread to all their people. She was welcomed into the tribe.
The couple had six children, and the father carved a large canoe for his family to ride in. He carved a smaller canoe for himself, so he could ride beside them. They spent many happy days canoeing the rivers and streams.
One day, the father set out into the woods to hunt for deer. While he was in the forest, he felt a sudden need to return home, and so he did, without any game.
"You'll have to go deeper into the forest," the mother said. "Find us the fattest deer you can. The children are terribly hungry."
So the father set off again into the forest. While he was away, the mother decided to take the children out in the large canoe. While they were riding on the river, the mother began to sing a magic song, a song the children had never heard. This was a song she had not sung since she was young. As she sang, the canoe began to rise from the river, floating into the sky.
The children were startled, and the youngest cried out for her father. He heard this and came running. He saw his family just in time. He raced into the water and reached out to pull the canoe back to earth.
After that experience, the mother began to long for her old life in the sky. A few weeks later, when her husband was again in the forest, she decided to take the children in the large canoe, while she would ride in the smaller one. As they were paddling down the river, she sang. Both canoes began to rise, but the youngest child cried out for her father.
Hearing his daughter, the man ran as fast as he could to save his family. He reached the river in time to pull down the large canoe and bring it back to earth, but the smaller canoe carrying his wife disappeared into the sky.
The children were heartbroken. That night, they wept and whispered, "Where is our mother?"
The father did not wish to hurt his children, and he ached for his wife. He couldn't understand why she had decided to leave.
Weeks passed, until finally the father had an idea. He took the children to the river, and they climbed into the large canoe. He closed his eyes and recalled his wife's magic song. He began to sing, raising his voice to the sky. Sure enough, the canoe floated up beyond the clouds.
At long last, they came to a lodge in the sky. Outside sat an old man singing the same song.
"Please," the father said. "We have come to find my children's mother. Can you help us?"
"She's over there, dancing and singing," the old man said.
Just then, they heard footsteps. When they turned, they saw their mother running toward them. "I have missed you!" she cried as the family hugged each other.
"Why did you leave us?" the father asked.
"I love the sky," she explained.
"And I love the earth," he told her. "We must go home now."
The whole family got back into the canoe and rode back to earth.
They settled into their old home. But a few weeks later, while the father was away hunting, the mother took her children back into the sky in the magic canoe. Even the youngest was excited to go back.
They stayed in the sky forever after. The father returned to his tribe, devastated.
Forever after, he sat and stared up at the sky at night, listening for that magical song. When the wind was just right, he could hear it through the trees. If you listen hard, you will hear it, too.
"Tell Me a Story 3: Women of Wonder," the third CD in the audiobook series, is now available. For more information, please visit www.mythsandtales.com.