Showing posts from July, 2011

The first time I learned that I was a storyteller

When my oldest son was in grade 2, I talked my way into his classroom. In kindergarten and grade 1, I had been welcome to help prepare crafts, but generally it was clear that a) I would need a babysitter for my younger son and b) parent volunteers were supposed to help with the practical stuff by cutting and pasting and supervising. Somehow, when Cary was in grade 2, I made contact with his teacher and found a welcome.

Both my boys were born in October, and Cary was born on the 30th, so Halloween was an important celebration at our house. I don't much like most of Halloween themes and I dislike anything gory. Also, my boys were being carefully raised to avoid violence and horror. So Halloween would have been a challenge if I hadn't been a student of Irish fairy and folklore. One of the earlier forms of Halloween was Samhain (pronounced Sow ween), a night when the borders between the worlds of the living, the dead and the fairy became thin enough to cross easily.

All the re…

Decorating Cakes

One of my early memories is of entering a cake decorating contest. I was probably nine years old and we were living in Richmond B.C. I have no actual recollection of how I decorated my entry: I just remember how betrayed I felt when I realized that many of the elaborate entries were probably not decorated by the children who entered them.

Five years later, my little sister was born and I became her personal cake decorator. My method was to paint a picture with icing, so that she had a unicorn or a Holly Hobbie doll or whatever she wanted that year on her cake. There was no contest; just a celebration when my work was briefly displayed, and then consumed.

When my own kids were little, I decorated lots of cakes, but I remember almost none of them. This may be a function of being so sleep deprived that the memories didn't stick, or it may be that the parties I threw for them were so elaborate that the cake was just one element among many. For instance, I don't remember the c…

The bear and the bunny

Once there was and was not a bear who was quick and funny and somewhat afraid of standing still. Bear loved to run and climb and splash in cold mountain streams. He was strong and fast and when he found other bears, he was equally happy competing or playing. Bear loved everything that allowed him to keep moving.

He didn't love standing still. Every fall, he put off hibernation until the last possible day. Every spring, he burst back into the world, full of energy and didn't stop moving till fall.

Bear loved to watch things moving that were even faster and stronger than he was. He watched eagles soar overhead and wished for wings. He moved along the shore, watching the whales and listening to their songs and he wished he could swim so far and so deep. He watched deer and admired their grace and endurance. As fast as he was and as strong as he was, Bear loved all things that were even faster or even stronger.

Even Bear had to stop to catch his breath sometimes. One day he ha…

Jumping Mouse

I read blogs, and one of the blogs I enjoy is idealawg. Last week, I caught a tweet from the blogger that said the jumping mouse had been added to a list of protected species.

One of my favourite stories is the legend of Jumping Mouse. So I tweeted back and asked if the writer knew the story. A few minutes later, I had sent the link and said that it was fun to be able to give something back to a blogger whose work I enjoyed.

The course I was training ends with a story circle. One of the early stories mentioned an eagle. Halfway around the circle, there was a story about a frog and a mouse. I ended the circle, as I had planned the night before, with the story of Jumping Mouse, a mouse who is given its long, strong legs by a magic frog. Later, the frog turns the mouse into an eagle.

If I were writing a short story, it would seem too coincidental to have all the story elements appear before I told my story, an overly neat metaphor for the class coming together on common ground. But …