Amália Madeira, The Only Little Girl in Aldeia da Pena

Aldeia da Pena, Portugal Photo Credit: Hank

Aldeia da Pena, Portugal.   Photo Credit: Hank


Molly: (splashing in a spring fed fountain in Aldeia da Pena one of the most remote villages in Portugal. Population: 8) I like it here, mama. I love it.

Me: You do?

Molly: Yah! I do.

Me: Shall we see more?

Molly: Yah, we on adventure.

Me: We are on an adventure.

Molly: Yah, I love adventure. I aventureira (an adventurer)! (taking my hand and walking down the road)

Me and Molly in Aldeia da Pena. Photo Credit: Hank

Me and Molly in Aldeia da Pena. Photo Credit: Hank


Me: You are, indeed. Did you know that only eight people live in this village. Although, I’ve been told more come home for Christmas and summer holidays.

Molly: Yah.

Me: That means today you are the only little girl in this village.

Molly: It me?

Me: Yes, just you.

Molly: Okay.

Me: Once there were many little girls, but now they live closer to school and town.

Molly: No one is home. Não esta em casa (Not at home).

Me: Well, that isn’t true. We met Senior Antonio and his wife; they live here and this is their home. And the family that runs the restaurant, but their daughters are grown, no one as small as you anymore.

Molly: (pointing) What’s that, mommy?

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Me: (looking up to see a wooden statue of a little girl placed in the door of an old stone oven) Oh, well hello there.

Molly: (waving at the statue) Hello!

Me: I guess you aren’t the only little girl in this village after all.

Molly: Who’s that?

Me: Well, I don’t know. Do you know who she is?

Molly: Yes, her Amália! (bouncing)

Me: Her name is Amália, just like you?

Molly: Yah! Hello, Amália. (waving)

Me: I am very pleased to meet you Amália… Madeira (wood). My name is Joy and this is my daughter Amália Pereira (pear tree).

Molly: (covering her mouth to giggle when she heard their rhyming names) I Amália. I aventureira (adventurer)! Be my friend? Amália Madeira my friend, mommy?

Me: Oh yes. We shall be friends with Amália Madeira always and forever.

Molly: She come home with us?

Me: No, she lives here. If she came to live with us then Senior Antonio and his wife would be very lonely, I think.

Molly: Yah. She my friend. I love you, Amália Madeira.

Me: Me, too! I love you, Amália Madeira.

Molly: Awwwe, I give her hug?

Me: Blow her kisses and she will catch them.

Molly: (blowing kisses) She catch them, she catch them! I see! You see too, mommy?

Me: I did.

Molly: Amália Madeira my friend. She dances in my heart. I dance, too! (dancing in the rainy streets)

Me: (beaming) What else?

Molly: She little girl here. She the only little girl. Today, I here too! I make Amália Madeira happy. She make me happy. She make me sooooo happy, mommy.

Me: What a wonderful friend.

Molly: She my friend! She wonderful!

Aldeia da Pena is known as the village where “the dead kill the living.” Before the road was built the only way to access the village was by foot and if you wanted to bury your loved ones in consecrated ground you’d have to carry their remains out of the valley.  The journey was difficult and some died on along the way, hence the moniker.


Crying an Ocean of Tears In Her Ears

Backstory: When we encounter a stream or a good fountain it is Pai (Hank and Molly's dad's) job to make us paper boats to sail and at restaurants it is my job to turn our paper napkins into lotus flowers.

Backstory: When we encounter a stream or a good fountain it is Pai’s (Hank and Molly’s dad’s) job to make us paper boats to sail and at restaurants or cafés it is my job to turn our paper napkins into lotus flowers.


Molly: (overly tired, crying in her bed)

Hank: (in bed, asleep, wearing ear plugs and a sleep mask because no one ever called him dumb, not one day)

Me: Hey now, hey now, little darlin’. What is it we say every night? No more crying, time for sleeping.

Molly: (unaffected)

Me: (kneeling by her bed) Hush now, little chicken. What has you so upset?

Molly: (in between tears) I… Don’t… Want… Go to bed!

Me: I know, lovie. It’s hard to stop the day, but it’s time for dreaming.

Molly: No. (tears streaming down her cheeks)

Me: Instead of crying let’s play a little game, shall we? (laying my head on her chest) You be Totoro and I will be May.


Molly: (wants to stop crying, but doesn’t want to give up the fight)

Me: Who are you?

Molly: (sniffling)

Me: And this is where you say (whisper roar), “To-To-ROOOOO!”

Molly: (giggling)

Me: (pretending to be a three year old girl) Are you a Totoro?

Molly: (giggling, nodding)

Me: And then I lay on your big belly, because I am suddenly very, very tired and we go to sleep. (laying my head back down on her chest)

Molly: Mama, sleep with me?

Me: I can’t sleep with you, MaGoo! Your bed is much too small for me, but your bed is just right for you. I sleep just across the hall. I am always here.

Molly: Oh! (hand to her ears) I all wet!

Me: (brushing tears from her face) You cried an ocean of tears into your ears, silly chicken.

Molly: Ocean in my ears?

Me: Tears are salty like the sea.

Molly: (serious) Ocean in my ears?!

Me: Yes, and now that it is time for sleeping, why don’t we imagine that you have a real ocean inside your ears full of…

Molly: Fish!

Me: Yes and coral and sea weed and…

Molly: Seals!

Me: Yes and what else?

Molly: And… um…  And paper boats! Papa make paper boats? Paper boats for my ocean?

Me: Of course! Your papa always makes the paper boats and we will sail them on the ocean of tears in your ears.

Molly: Papa make paper boats and mama makes flowers.

Me: I do, don’t I?

Molly: Yah, mama makes flowers and papa boats and Mano (brother) is my best friend. (eyes getting heavy)

Me: Sounds perfect.

Molly: Yah. I all better. I on a paper boat. On a paper boat in my ear in ocean in my ear.

Me: (whispering) What a perfect place to be! (smiling while combing her hair from her eyes until soon she drifts off to sleep)


A Poem for Our Resident Pterodactylus and Yours!

Conversations with Hank (a conversation with molly)

Our resident Pterodactyl grooming her pet Apatosaurus


Me: Gooooood morning, Mz. Molly MaGoo!

Molly: (wrapped in a blanket on the sofa, newly arisen) NOOOOAoaoaorrrrrrrrrrk!

Me: (not taking much notice of the fact that Molly is 100% pterodactyl in the morning) I trust you had a wonderful trip to Bedfordshire.

Molly: ArrrrRRRRRRrrrwarquk!

Me: I have a brand new pair knee-socks for you this morning.

Molly: (practically spitting mad) grrrrrraa-AAAAAAWWWWWQUARKKKK!

Me: Do you know why they’re called knee-socks?


Me: Because they are so long they stop at your knees, silly!

Molly: MOOoaoaoarrrkrkrkyquark! (climbing out of the blanket and into my lap)

Me: (sigh) Have I ever told you the story of the girl who went to bed herself, but every morning woke up a pterodactyl?

Molly: arrrrrrrr-no-arrrrrgh.

Me: Shall I then? Shall I tell you?

Molly: (nodding, still growling)

Me: Once Upon a Time…


There was a lovely little girl,
Full of twists and turns,
Giggles and wiggles,
Adventure and mischief and play

Who every night went sweetly to bed,
And awoke a pterodactyl the very next day!

Molly: (lifting her head from my chest, meeting my eyes knowingly, before slamming her head back down again)

Me: OOfta!

The pterodactyl would squawk, and flap and spit!
She’d refuse kindness and kisses and screamed for FISH STICKS!

She’d protest and roar about all that was done.
She’d shriek and she’d hide her face from the sun.

Her parents were worried, her brother concerned,
For regardless of temper she had so much to learn.

They took her to the doctor and even to the Zoo!
But even the experts hadn’t a clue what to do!

Her condition was a mystery,
There was nothing to be done!
They suffered the pterodactyl
For clearly, she’d won.

Her family they loved her,
No matter what form.
But often their patience
Were tired and worn.

She was still their girl, loving and sweet
Even if she were monster when morning they’d meet.

Funny thing about their pterodactyl.
It’s curious you see,
While eating her midmorning snack
She’d giggle with glee

And often with a sneeze, a wiggle or a twirl
The Dinosaur would turn back into their special little girl.

Her tail would recede,
Her scales into curls,
Her wing would be folded,
And dissolve with a whirl.

And her sweet, mischievous, charming self…
There she’d be!

So, if you often wake with a dinosaur in your house:
Give them space, give them time, give them snack

Not everyone is kindness and gladness when you meet,
But all can be restored with the right things to eat!

Molly: (lifting her head when I’d finished)

Me: (brushing her hair from her eyes) Not everyone is meant for mornings, Captain MaGoo.

Molly: (tilting her head to one side)

Me: Do you know who that story is about?

Molly: (nodding yes)

Me: Who is it about then?

Molly: (tilting her head back and releasing a great ROAR)

Me: You are correct! That story is about you, my charmingly spiky morning monster!

Molly: Again, mommy!

Me: You want me to tell it to you again?

Molly: Again, arrrrrrgwak!

Me: I understand that was pterodactyl for please. I speak semi-fluent Pterodactylus at this point.

Molly: Again, please.

Me: Once Upon a Time…