This site contains only the content of the book. Photographs by A. Rhae Adams and drawings are only available in hardcopy.
Once on a modern time, the Mayor of the town had only one child, a daughter named Ariel. Her mother died when she was fifteen.
Ariel was, of course, the pride of her father's life and rightly so. Ariel was an attractive girl and very athletic. She excelled in track and basketball, but her greatest talent was swimming. Year after year, she won gold medals in more than one event in local competitions.
When she entered high school, the swim coach encouraged her to try out for the Olympics. Her father resisted her participation. To him, she was too young especially if she were selected. She would be away from home for too long a time. However, he did acquiesce, at least to the trials.
In these trials, the competition was much keener. Ariel did not make the cut. However, she did impress the judges enough that she was asked to accompany the team to the Olympics to help the team and receive additional instruction.
Her father opposed her accepting the invitation. He didn't see any honor in her being a gofer for the team. By the time of the next Olympics she should be in college. By then, she might no longer be interested in swimming. Mostly, he knew the main reason he objected was that his daughter would be away from home for many weeks. In the end, however, he could not deny his daughter her desire to go.
Her experience as team assistant helped Ariel to be a more intelligent and committed swimmer. During her high school years she became even more competitive winning many state and regional medals. Many universities recruited her.
Of course, her father dreaded her leaving home to go to college and hoped that she would select a school close to home. He feared that she would select a west-coast university, so far from home.
Eventually, she chose a school in the D.C. area. She liked the assistant coach who recruited her and the college assured her an excellent education.
The spring of her second year, months before the Olympic trials began, an event happened that changed the course of her life. While on a study break, she went boating with friends on the Potomac. A man from a nearby boat fell into the water. It was obvious that he could not swim and was drowning. Immediately, Ariel dived in and pulled the man to safety.
The man was Japanese. He, Eroji, worked at the Japanese Embassy. He was a member of a rich and influential family. He was handsome, polite and charming. He insisted on showing his appreciation. Ariel, for the first time, learned the meaning of love.
She also knew from the depths of her soul that the relationship had two strong enemies. Her father, whose older brother was killed in World War II, harbored resentments against the Japanese. Also, her coach would not want any romantic distractions that would effect her training. Recognizing these strong forces did not prevent Ariel from responding positively to the young man's advances.
The assistant coach quickly saw the impact of Ariel's new relationship. Love for her young man rapidly drew her away from her swimming. The coach knew that he had to get her away from her Japanese.
Therefore, the coach developed a plan. He would persuade her father to let her go to a more swimming-directed program in California. With her as a prize, another program would award him a better job. It would be a win-win option for him.
On learning from the coach that his daughter was involved with a Japanese man, the Mayor was much distressed. The involvement was bad enough unto itself, but he also had to learn of it from someone else.
Once he calmed down sufficiently, the Mayor called his daughter. The case turned out to be worse than the coach presented. Ariel told him that swimming was no longer important to her and that Eroji and she were talking about spending their life together. Eroji wanted to meet her father and for her to visit Japan.
"Where would you live?" he asked.
"I will live with him wherever he lives. Father, you cannot deny me my destiny."
The Mayor was saddened by her words. He did not know what he could do. He couldn't force her to stay. To send her to California was anything but a solution. She would be unhappy with him and would be far from home at that. He didn't know how he would cope if she lived in Japan. He had lost Ariel's mother. Now it looked as if he was losing Ariel too.
Over the next week, he went about his work without enthusiasm. Among his tasks was working with a committee to develop a community garden. Faith Moon was a prime mover on that committee. After a meeting, she mentioned to the Mayor that he didn't seem to be himself. So, he told her about Ariel's relationship with the Japanese, ending that he was likely to lose his daughter.
Mother Moon responded in a soft voice:
Do focus on what you have and have had,
Not on what you think you have lost.
You can't lose what you never had.
Do not dwell on your sense of loss.
Don't make of your love a barrier.
Be happy in your daughter's joy.
You cannot trap the spirit of your mermaid in a jar.
You must allow the birds to fly up in the sky.
You cannot tame the spirits of wild horses.
You must let her free spirit go.
You must let her free spirit now be free.
Don't keep your gold fish in a bowl.
The Japanese build ponds for their koi.
Prepare a feast and celebrate!
Continue to build on your life.
You never lose your daughter's love,
However, it you can destroy.
Start treasuring that which you have.
With her, traditions you have built.
She will take those with her.
And, with them, she will take the essence of your soul.
By treasuring the memories that your traditions give,
You make of all these memories a monument.
When you're together and when you're apart,
Your shared traditions will be monuments
That you together will continually visit even when you are apart.
So turn your memories into monuments.
The Mayor did not support the coach's plan to steal Ariel away. Ariel decided to visit Japan instead of participating in the Olympic games that next summer. After Ariel graduated, she and Eroji were married twice, once in the new community garden and again among the cherry petals of Kyoto. From their home, they enjoyed those fragrances from the cherry blossoms and lived happily ever after.
The Mayor did not see much of Ariel after her wedding, but, still he felt close to her. He understood that all Japanese, like all Americans, are different,
When the community garden was well-established, he put a small statue of a mermaid at its entrance.