Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Storytelling Troubadour!

This August I told tales from the White Mountains of New Hampshire to the rocky shores of Maine for room and board and some pin money. I was rewarded with breathtaking sights and lovely audiences - including telling tales by a campfire just before a break with s'mores. The Appalachian Mountain Club hosted me at Pinkham Notch and at Highland Lodge and Newagen Seaside Inn in Maine showed that they know the importance of storytelling. As one fireside boy who is a regular at the Inn said to me, "This is my favorite part of coming here.... well also the Clambake!" A sunset walk from the Inn led Tom and I to discover a plaque dedicated to Rachel Carson. May we all rededicate ourselves to treasuring and being caretakers for the natural life all around us.
Rachel Carson chose the wild beauty of the Maine coast near her cottage for her ashes

Monday, July 18, 2016

In residence at the International Storytelling Center

Just back from a wonderful time in residence at the International Storytelling Center. http://www.storytellingcenter.net/ Five of my best performances in repertory! Whew!! I call it the Storytelling Olympics! The Center has a sweet cottage for the tellers to stay in and a tradition is to leave some goodies behind! So I got to sample microwave popcorn for the first time - bravely sallying on past warning labels for a late night snack - and washed up with Goat's milk and lavender soap! We tellers really do encompass quite a range!! I loved trying to figure out who left what!!! I left my favorite new pasta sauce: Rao's Tomato and Basil and a Sam Adam's Beer from my home town of Boston!

Monday, April 11, 2016

A Meditation on Nature Myths

Here is a blog that I wrote for the League for the Advancement of New England Storytelling. It centers on Nature Myths, the topic for my workshop at their annual storytelling conference: Sharing the Fire. 

Boston's Arnold Arboretum at Summer Twilight














A  MEDITATION ON NATURE MYTHS

You don’t often hear, ‘Wow, I heard a really cool nature myth today!’
You probably won’t hear, ‘Did I tell you the one about how the Evergreens came to be?’ at the neighborhood bar. They may not be the most popular narratives these days but I say that Nature Myths* are the most sorely missed. So much missed that we have forgotten what they once taught us to know.

One thing they taught us is that we belong to the land, as much as if not more than it belongs to us. We lost that sense as the old stories that rooted our imaginations in the landscape were shredded by assimilation and modernization. We have continued to travel further and further from that Eden, from the feeling that we are in a unified place. We are faced more and more with things we do not know how to process, in terms that are alien to our soul. Mythology, revisited and reinvigorated, can still be a deeply orienting narrative. Myths speak in the archetypal language of dreams and meaning, encouraging us to suspend disbelief and to wonder as a child does at the marvel that is our world.

I've worked with nature mythology for all of my life as a storyteller, plumbing its depths for Seasonal Celebrations, Stories in the Landscape, explorations of specific natural elements like trees and flowers and more. What I find is that these old stories always challenge me to think more deeply about a creature or plant or celestial body. When I am outdoors, those tales accompany me – encouraging meditative thoughts on the natural world and revealing each plant or insect in a new way. Sometimes I feel as though surrounding a natural element with a myth is like gifting it with a new perfume!

For me now, these old stories clothe the world, drawing my imagination closely to it. Truth be known, that is why I began the search. Feeling alienated from the natural world when I grew up and stopped building forts and running through the pastureland and became a responsible adult, I wanted more than ever to find a way and a reason to have nature still be my constant companion. Exploring nature myths has been a ‘way’ for me and my wish is to bring my discoveries to others.

Whenever someone says to me after hearing a myth on roses, “I will never see a rose in the same way again.” I know the right chord has sounded. What they mean when they say ‘see’ is ‘experience.’
The Australian Aborigines call the time of myth the Dreamtime. One of their tribes has a beautiful saying: “It’s true that we need the earth, but that is not the whole story. The earth needs us. It needs to hear the laughter of our children. It needs to hear the pounding of feet to the rhythm of the dance and it needs to hear the old stories told in a sacred manner.”

Does the earth need to hear the ancient stories? I say YES, it needs to hear them and so do we need to be tied back to them as we were “in the beginning time.”

We are such an important element of nature. Better weavers than the spiders. Our myths were designed to weave our intangible imagination into the fabric in such a way that we ourselves could be caught in delight, suspended in wonder and meaning.
Can you imagine that?

* By Nature Myths I am referring to ancient stories of origin that tell how elements in nature came to be, including Nature Mythologies where natural forces are personified.

Read the other LANES blogs on a variety of storytelling topics!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day!


We are at single digit weather here in Boston and Jack Frost put the frosting on our icy Valentine's cake by creating dancing, starry patterns that glitter in the sun. He disguised his signature as a Cupid's arrow sweeping through the fun from upper right to down left! Thanks Jack! I am totally star-struck by you!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Jack Frost's Silver leaf patterns

In response to "In Search of Jack Frost" Shirley Yee sent me one of her black and white photos of frost designs outside her window last year. In this one, our artist, Jack, used his window canvas to decorate a barren winter tree with the most joyous flying leaf patterns. Ah, Jack you do love to uplift the spirit!


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Jack Frost's signature


You have to look hard to see it and in truth he does not Always sign his work. But lately I have discovered the telltale marks. A dashing line at the bottom of some of his finest etchings. It is not a scribble such as doctors are said to make when they hastily scrawl their names. No! It is a DASH - a long one----- as in Dashing! I think Jack is pleased that I found it.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Winter Meditation 2016 "In Search of Jack Frost"


Jack Frost- Second Installment! I am still in search of him, who he is and where is he from.... He is the most eloquent of artists with crystal tipped brush and the swiftest most delicate strokes. His laughter crackles as though the thinnest layer of ice is breaking. For aeons he studied the world of nature. Tracing every shape in silver and in the process opening our eyes to every natural SHAPE. But I believe that his greatest joy came when we created windows. For at that moment we gave him his canvases - a place to create his original work.



This morning he did a quick sketch of himself on my dining room window, well at least a sketch of his clothing and his long and winding hat! You can see the hat twining up the left middle of the window. Curiously he left his face blank. Does that mean that he is invisible? Or is it that he prefers to remain anonymous? Ah, Jack, the search continues...