A Danish Immigrant

Hi everyone….By the way, if you were wondering, I’m a Dragon, … and my name is Ferdinand, an old German and Spanish name meaning “protection” and “peace.” I know I can look stern and sometimes even mean, and if I uncoil my long green tail, I look a little scary because I’m pretty big … but I really do try to be a nice dragon. I may be big and slower than other dragons, and like Ferdinand the Bull, I prefer to sit peacefully under a tree (or more correctly “in” the tree), and I enjoy the smell of pretty flowers (or more correctly “eat” them). My name also means I am “courageous” and a “bold voyager.” You know, like the explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who was brave enough to be the first to sail his small boat across the unknown waters of the Pacific Ocean, or King Ferdinand who, with his Queen Isabella, couldn’t themselves leave Spain, so instead sent Columbus to discover a route around the world to India … because you know, Dragons do like to travel!

There are lots of dragons in the world, but you don’t see us very often – mostly because people are scared of us and that can make us shy. We are pretty strong, and because of our size, we usually get our way. To me that means we need to be very careful about what we want. Even if we look fierce and mean, we can choose not to be, and I think it’s so much nicer to be kind and considerate. I’m not really cute like Toothless in “How to Train Your Dragon” and I’m not cuddly because I’m made of clay, so I just try instead to be smart and helpful to those around me.

So how did I come to be in Maryland, at Sandy Spring Friends School? I’m not totally sure … but My Friend, who is studying to be a teacher, from way across the ocean, came to the Art Barn with her friends Joy and Miranda to make bowls for Empty Bowls – you know, that wonderful project where everyone makes bowls – which so many others paint and decorate – and then so many more make soup to fill the bowls to earn money to feed the so many who do not have enough to eat… Such a smart way to have fun and be generous too! My Friend really hadn’t done much with clay since she was a little girl, but she loved the whole idea of helping – and as it turns out, she is really great with clay!

Really though, I’ve been in the Art Barn in stuffed body and spirit for some time: have you ever looked up in the rafters to see me coiled around the ceiling beams? The snakes that hang out there are my friends, and I’ve been looking down at you for several years now, watching all the kids learn to be creative, kind and responsible. Anyway, My Friend saw me looking down at her, and so she made her bowl in my image. She has always loved to draw, and dragons inspire her. She came all the way from Denmark…can you believe that?? … where dragons are mostly fierce and dangerous. But she is particularly impressed with my mythological relatives in the Far East – China, Indonesia, Japan, India – who are intelligent, peaceful, benevolent, and often grant wishes to those who deserve it. So, My Friend turned her drawing talent into a magnificent bowl (if I do say so myself) of me, peering down with piercing eyes and a gentle snout surrounded by feathery green whiskers, to watch what’s going on below. No pointy horns, grasping claws or threateningly sharp teeth for me! Even my very long scaly tail is wrapped around my round green body so I don’t look too big and scary, and my wings are folded away – but they’re there in case I need to come down to help someone…

I sure hope I see you often in the Art Barn, and especially at the Empty Bowl celebration on February 11, 2018. And if you see My Friend, please say “Hello”, or “Hej” from me!

By Sara F., the inspiration behind EB at SSFS.

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