Once upon a time there was a girl whose name was Jasmine. Jasmine was a wayfarer, she had travelled all her life long, visited all the cities of the world, met thousands of people, learnt and spoken many languages… But all this travelling around exhausted her so she decided to look for a place where she could rest for a while.. One day she stumbled in a very small village, the littlest village she had ever seen, in the mountains. The streets were empty but despite that the place seemed welcoming and quiet, she could see the lights through the windows and the people gathered together around the table.. She thought to herself that it would have been nice to spend some time there before returning to her wanderer life. She took a room in the only inn she found, her room was warm and cosy, with flowers on the windowsill and some bread and marmalade nicely placed on a plate on her little table.. she tasted it and after walking all day she tought that it was the best food in the world, she was content there and after eating she fell asleep. The day after she decided to walk and look around, after all she would have stayed there for some time. The first impression Jasmine had from that walk was that everyone knew everyone else, they greeted each other and stopped for a little chat when they crossed each other, they seemed friendly although they kept the distance from her but she thought it was because she was a stranger… Few days passed and she was getting better and better, rested after all her travelling, but she also started to feel alone, she hadn’t talked with a soul since she got there and she would have liked to have some friends. To do that she said to herself that she had to approach people, she couldn’t wait for them… so she did it. She went toward some people and she said hello smiling. Their reaction was odd though, they looked at her like she was an alien. She didn’t understand why, she imagined she might have had something on her face, maybe some foam from her cappuccino at breakfast, she tried to look at herself in the shop window but she didn’t see anything strange. So she tried again, this time with a kid who was playing in a garden close by. She smiled and said:“Hi” The kid looked at her, then looked around, then looked at her again: “What is that thing you are doing with your mouth?” She didn’t get his question so she asked him what he meant and the kid replied “Yes, why did you do this strange shape with your mouth?” Jasmine finally understood and asked back: “You mean why did I smile?”, the kid even more confused at that point: “Smile? What is a smile?” She couldn’t believe her ears and she talked back “A smile is a smile kid, you should know that”. The kid looked at her with a very innocent expression: “Here nobody does it, that smile you are talking about” and he left. Jasmine was shocked, how was it possible that people didn’t smile? It’s a natural thing to do, people in the world do it all the time, in every place she had been to people smiled all the time.. She started looking around, paying attention to people’s faces, in the streets, through the windows, in the shop and she realized that the kid was right, people never smiled.
The weeks passed her by and she was more and more lonely, more and more sad. One day she went for a walk to the wood just outside the village, she sat on a log and there, surrounded just by trees, she couldn’t hold back the tears. She was still crying when all of a sudden a little being came out from the trees, he looked like a man but he couldn’t be a man because he was just few inches long and he wore a funny hat on his head. “Why are you crying, girl?” asked the little man. “I am sad” Jasmine answered. And the small man asked back “Why are you sad?”, “I feel lonely and nobody smiles in that village. Who are you by the way?” asked Jasmine now animated with curiosity. “I’m a gnome, I live in the wood with my friends gnomes”. Jasmine, who had never seen such a creature before, investigated a bit more: “Are there other creatures like you?” “Of course girl, there are many of us out there and there are also the fairies, they have small houses on the trees, while we, the gnomes, live in the mushrooms.” She laughed and then speaking seriously again she said: “I have travelled all over the world and never met someone like you, and these fairies, who are them?” “The fairies are magic, darling, they are beautiful and they have wings, but they are not the only one who have special powers you know.. I have some magic powers too.” Jasmine, who didn’t believe much to what she had just heard challenged him “Do you have the power to make these people smile?”, the gnome looked at her, he thought to himself that it wouldn’t have been easy and he should have discussed the matter with the others “Let me talk with my friends and with the fairies, let see if we can help you”. Jasmine felt a bit happier, not because she really believed in their magic powers, but because at last she had a conversation with someone, even though in a remote part of her mind she doubted that that conversation really happened..
Few days later she went back to the wood, it was the only place where she didn’t have to see those sad faces… She was reading her favourite book when again, the gnome appeared out of the blue like the first time. “Hey girl, I thought you wouldn’t have come back, do you remember the question you asked me when we talked? Well, I talked with my friends and with the fairies and we agreed to help you, we are sick of not seeing these people smiling too, they make us sad when they come in the wood with those long faces.. but if you want us to help out, you will have to do something as well” Jasmine was so happy that she didn’t wait a second and answered “I will do everything you ask me!” “Don’t be so happy – replied the gnome – it’s not an easy task: you will have to gather all the people living in the village, at 6 am in three days time” Jasmine walked back home thinking that it couldn’t be that difficult to round up those few people, so when she went to bed she was optimistic, looking forward to wake up and get out. The day after she started asking the people if they could meet up two days after because she had something important to communicate to the whole village, but the answers she got were all negative, some people told her they were not interested, others replied that if it was that important she wouldn’t have waited two days. Jasmine tried all day but she didn’t succeed, at night she was a bit sad but she thought she had one more day to try, so the day after she tried again, with a different approach. She made up a story about a circus company coming to the village and she asked the people if they were willing to give them a warm welcome, but the reactions were even worse than the day before: “We don’t want strangers in our village”, “we love our quiet and peace”. That night Jasmine went to bad with a bitter taste in her mouth, she didn’t manage to do what the gnome asked her, that meant she would have never seen those people smile.
The morning after she woke up very early, she made her decision: she would have left the village before the people woke up, she didn’t want to see those sad faces again, but suddenly something came to her mind and she ran out of her room in the last attempt to make the magic happen…
“Fire, fire” she started shouting and immediately all the people of the village started coming out of their houses, most of them still in their pyjamas, they looked around trying to see where this fire was when suddenly, on the mountains around the village the magic happened. The mountains started to assume colours they have never had before: yellow like the sun, white like the snow, green like the grass, pink like the flowers.. In front of that wonder people couldn’t do anything else but smile, then they looked at each other and seeing the smile on other people’s faces made them smile even more.. After enjoying that moment for a while they went toward Jasmine and told her “Thanks for reminding us how to smile, we won’t forget it anymore”, Jasmine looking happily at them answered “I didn’t do anything, you have to thank the gnomes and the fairies for that”, the people looked at each other thinking she was a little bit crazy, but they didn’t bother anymore and they smiled back to her.
From that day on, all the people in the village smiled, from kids to elderly, when at table with their families, in the streets, in the shop.. and from time to time the mountains changed colours again just to remind them how a smile can make you see things in a different light, or rather, in a different colour.
I have to admit it, I made up this story and there’s nothing true in it, just the fact that the mountains do change colours, thanks to the mineral they are made of: the Dolomite that apparently becomes pink because it contains manganese. The mountains I am talking about are the Dolomites, in the North of Italy, declared in 2009 UNESCO World Heritage Site and in particular the ones in the pictures are in the chain of Lagorai. And the village is Carano. And yes, now you will be jealous, I took three of these pictures from my balcony.. The first one is at dawn, and it was my mum who took it, the second is in winter of two years ago I think, the third one is Lavaze, in august 2007 and the last one is at sunset..