Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Falling Leaves Drift By My Window...

"That night was the turning point in the season.We had gone to bed in summer, and we awoke in autumn."
Henry David Thoreau

I think autumn may just be my favorite season. There is nothing prettier than fall in New England. The crisp, clean air drifts in just around the edges of the waning days of summer, teasingly alerting us that Mother Nature will soon take out her palette and begin to paint the trees lush colors of burgundy, saffron, gold, and scarlet. She drifts in and out, confusing us with warm, sunny days that give way to chilly nights and that extra blanket on the bed.

I am blessed to have wonderful apple orchards close by where you can pluck your own fruit from the trees. It is a delight to watch the children scurry among the rows of graceful branches, heavy with their delicious gifts. They search for the best trees that hold the hanging fruit just out of their reach. Mothers and fathers quickly catch up, carrying the baskets that will soon be filled with the ripe, red jewels. Many of the orchards still press fresh apple cider, and one of the towns holds an annual Apple Peach Festival. It is small town Americana at its best, with local music, good food, and the crowning of a beautiful young lady who will reign as the Apple Peach Queen until the changing of the seasons has completed yet another cycle.

Fall will soon give way to Father Frost but while we can still revel among the foliage, I give you some apples stories to enchant, delight and nourish you. Enjoy!

STORIES

"Three apples fell from heaven. One for the storyteller, one for the listener, and one for he who heeds the tales."     ~ Hindu proverb

The Tale of the Silver Saucer and the Transparent Apple
from Old Peter's Russian Tales


There was once an old peasant, and he must have had more brains under his hair than ever I had, for he was a merchant, and used to take things every year to sell at the big fair of Nijni Novgorod. Well, I could never do that. I could never be anything better than an old forester.

"Never mind, grandfather," said Maroosia.

God knows best, and He makes some merchants and some foresters, and some good and some bad, all in His own way. Anyhow this one was a merchant, and he had three daughters. They were none of them so bad to look at, but one of them was as pretty as Maroosia. And she was the best of them too. The others put all the hard work on her, while they did nothing but look at themselves in the looking-glass and complain of what they had to eat. They called the pretty one "Little Stupid," because she was so good and did all their work for them. Oh, they were real bad ones, those two. We wouldn't have them in here for a minute.

Well, the time came round for the merchant to pack up and go to the big fair. He called his daughters, and said, "Little pigeons," just as I say to you. "Little pigeons," says he, "what would you like me to bring you from the fair?"

Says the eldest, "I'd like a necklace, but it must be a rich one."

Says the second, "I want a new dress with gold hems."

But the youngest, the good one, Little Stupid, said nothing at all.

"Now little one," says her father, "what is it you want? I must bring something for you too."

Says the little one, "Could I have a silver saucer and a transparent apple? But never mind if there are none."

The old merchant says, "Long hair, short sense," just as I say to Maroosia; but he promised the little pretty one, who was so good that her sisters called her stupid, that if he could get her a silver saucer and a transparent apple she should have them.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Here are some additional stories and resources to help you take a hearty bite out of the season.


The Apples of the Hesperides - A Greek Myth
A Boy and His Donkey
A folktale from the Hispanic Southwest
The Apple of Contentment - by Howard Pyle
The Enchanted Apple Tree - Another version of this story is "Tia Miseria's Pear Tree," a story from Puerto

The Griffin - From the Brothers Grimm

The Firebird and Ivan in the Garden
of Golden Miracles
The Twelve Months - A Slav Folktale - Cinderella Variant
The Glass Mountain - Andrew Lang - The Yellow Fairy Tale book
The Nine Pea Hens - By Andrew Lang

Story-Lovers.com - A wealth of information and story suggestions from the fabulous Jackie Baldwin!
The Tale of the Three Apples - From the Arabian Nights
Johnny Appleseed - From American Folklore

Martin Pippin in the Apple Orchard by Eleanor Farjeon. Published 1921
The Golden Bird -From the Brother's Grimm
The Laughing Apple and the Weeping Apple - A Turkish Fairy Tale
That Apple Tree's Discovery - Peninnah Schram

Apple Trivia, Lesson Plans and Crafts

Did you know that the pilgrims planted the first United States apple trees in the Massachusetts Bay Colony? Here are some more fun apple facts for you.

"The apple has long been associated with immortality, as exemplified by its role in the tempting of Adam in the Garden of Eden. The mystical Isle of Avalon, famed place of eternal rest for Celtic heroes including king Arthur, is literally "the apple land" or "apple island." In Scandinavian myths, the North-European gods and goddesses were fed an apple every evening by Iduna, the goddess of spring and youth who nurtures an apple orchard in Asgard."

"In British Folklore if the sun could be seen shining through the branches of an apple tree on Christmas day, then the owner, if a farmer, would have a healthy crop the next summer. To ensure that this would happen, he would have to put a piece of toast in the fork of the tree or in the largest apple tree in his orchard. If a crab apple tree grew near to and overhung a well while blossoming out of season, then there would be more births and marriages than deaths in a community."

"In Ireland the apple identifies the people of the Sid. When one such comes to invite a human to the Land of Youth, he might carry a branch of an apple tree with him, often described as silver with white blossoms and/or with golden apples." http://www.silver-branch.org/ssbapple.html

CURRICULUM

University of Illinois: Apple Facts
http://urbanext.illinois.edu/apples/facts.cfm


Botanical. Com - Apple and History Folklore
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/a/apple044.html



A to Z Teacher Stuff – Lots of activities here to add to your school day fun!
http://themes.atozteacherstuff.com/225/apples-lesson-plans-activities-printables-and-teaching-ideas/
October Bulletin Board Project – School is a bushel of fun!
http://www.dltk-teach.com/boards/moct1.htm


Lots of lesson plan resources and more just ready to pick!

Fun Things for Children and Teachers – Fun facts, Teacher’s Corner and more.
http://www.bestapples.com/kids/home.shtml

Apple Education – Apples and more; too many apple projects to count!
http://urbanext.illinois.edu/apples/projects.cfm

Lesson plan to complement the fairy tale The Twelve Months.
http://people.ucalgary.ca/~dKbrown/twelve.html




CRAFTS AND ACTIVITIES
30 Apple Crafts for Kids
http://www.123homeschool4me.com/2013/07/30-apple-crafts-kids-activities-for.html

DLTK.COM – Apple crafts and activities
http://www.dltk-kids.com/crafts/miscellaneous/apple.html

Karen Chace 2008 ©

This blog post was researched and compiled by Karen Chace. Permission for private use is granted. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without my expressed written permission. For permission please contact me at storybug@aol.com. Of course, if you wish to link to my blog via your website, blog, newsletter, Facebook page or Twitter please feel free to do so; I greatly appreciate your support and personal integrity.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Oh How The Year's Go By...

Today is the 22 birthday of my beautiful boy, now grown into a handsome, smart and caring man. This photo is of Christopher and his beautiful fiancé Stephanie; their wedding will take place in October of 2010. He began his senior year at the local university last week, and this time next year he will be entering the working world full time in the field of medicine. He is considering pursuing a Masters Degree after graduation. Certainly a far cry from the young high school boy who loudly declared that he was not interested in college!

Christopher's life began somewhat precariously. Early on he was a tad bit impatient, which has proven true many times over through the years. He made his entrance into the world eleven and a half weeks early, at a mere 2 1/2 pounds. This picture captures the first time I was allowed to hold him. (Those are just a few of the tubes that sustained him resting on his forehead.) Our meeting was brief, sweet, and I think I held my breath the entire time before I reluctantly and tearfully surrendered him to the plastic womb of the incubator.

He spent the first two months of his tiny life in a neonatal ICU, that provided not only a solid link to life but a precarious see saw of emotion. I remember vividly the moment I felt the tide had turned in his favor. The nurse came to take blood, yet again, from his tiny veins. Christopher apparently was done with needles! He pushed himself up on both arms and turned a deep shade of purple as his tiny lungs screamed their dissent. I can still see in my mind's eye the nurse turning to me, her face awash in surprise, proclaiming that she had never seen such a strong, premature baby. I knew then, as I do now, that he was something special. Serendipitously, he would choose a career in Medical Laboratory Science, one that required him to learn how to draw blood.

The day finally came when he could leave the antiseptic world of buzzing machines and ringing alarms that would pierce the air when he or any of the other babies stopped breathing. As I dressed his still tiny body, a body that didn't even fit into Cabbage Patch Doll clothes, I was filled with joy and fear. He was still so fragile, how would I become the mother he needed me to be? I have come to realize that many times through the years he has taught me, just as much as I have taught him.

When he had passed his first decade by a few years, I sat down to write the following story for him. I was wistful, tearful, yet thankful he had grown into such a fun-loving, inquisitive young boy. Tonight, as we gather around the table to enjoy his requested birthday dinner, my homemade chili and cheese bread to celebrate his birth, I will again be tearful and thankful to have this joy in my life, a smart, inquisitive, funny, caring and loving man I am blessed to call my son. Happy Birthday Christopher!

A Stone's Throw
by Karen Chace © 1999

Our back yard slopes slightly towards a distant path in the woods. The yard ambles downhill, curving gently, and then continues into a forest that twists and turns for miles. At the edge of the grass, the wooded path beckons and just as you step into woods, a small brook trickles by to the left of the path. To an adult it is nothing to speak of, no rushing torrents or exotic wild life, except the local birds and squirrels, and in the right season, deer, but to a two year old boy this pathway held all the charm of the universe. It was magic.

In the time before speech was his easy friend, Christopher would desperately tug at my hand and try to lead me down the path. Always, for a brief moment, I'd pretend I didn't understand. "What is it you want?" I would ask. He would giggle; pull harder at my hand, as well as my heartstrings, even more adamantly pointing the way.

Our ritual would begin with a walk down the path, searching for just the right stone to throw into the stream and into the depths of his imagination. I wondered, what was he thinking as he searched for the perfect stone, a stone small enough for his tiny hand to grasp, yet smooth and wondrous to this child's eye? What made him squeal and laugh with delight as the stone struck the water, elegantly spreading mesmerizing ripples before it disappeared below the surface and beyond our sight? Then he'd do it again and again.

It didn't seem to matter to Christopher who led him down his special path. Many days he took my mother's hand and shared this special place with her. As with any smitten grandmother, Grandma Pat stayed for as long as Christopher wished, completely enveloped by his joy; carefully helping him select the stone, yet ever vigilant that he didn't stray too close to the edge.

In my mind's eye I hold a special, single picture of Christopher and of my mother, who is now long gone. On that autumn day she was the chosen one, his small hand pulling her… "Come". I silently traversed the path behind them, careful not to intrude into their world. I stayed far enough away so they wouldn't see me but close enough to capture a perfect, precious moment, watching as the love of two generations combined into one. The ripples were created over and over until his attention shifted to some other whimsy that sparked his imagination. They never knew I was there.

Christopher rarely seemed to tire of this game, this sport, this joy. He could live and luxuriate in the moment; blissfully unaware of the everyday, mundane tasks that awaited me, tasks that would take me away from what was truly important, widening his world, his imagination.

How many hours did we spend looking down into the brook, which, depending on the season, could be nothing more than a mediocre mud puddle or filled to the banks with deliciously dark water? Not enough.

Time passes too quickly when our children are young, as water down that stream. Today Christopher is a young teenager; his days spent among friends as he straps on his bike helmet, and rides off to new adventures with a quick kiss that barely brushes my cheek and a wave of his hand. The rituals of those childhood days have fallen away, replaced by new ones. Now, he calls to me, holds up his hand and motions for me to come and rest my palm against his. Carefully measuring he teases me that his hand is now larger than mine. It is his own way of silently signaling to me that he is fast becoming a man.

I no longer need to guide him across the street or help him find his way. There is a different guidance needed now. Holding on has been replaced with letting go. Yet, I am reluctant to release my grip and each night, I still gently rest my hand alongside his cheek as I lean down to kiss him goodnight. Thankfully, he has yet to deny me my own special ritual.

The purity of those days is gone now, lovingly placed alongside other priceless memories, his new front teeth, his first home run, and his first crush. Now it is I who longs to tug at his hand and lead him back to that perfect time, that perfect stone.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Story by Story


This past May I was privileged to be interviewed about my Student Storytelling Troupe by Eric Wolf. Eric also offers other interviews on a variety of subjects from storytellers around the world.

Below is the additional information I shared on his site prior to the interview. However, if you would like to listen to the podcast, Story by Story - Building A School Storytelling Troupe go to The Art of Storytelling With Children.

On a warm, spring night in June of 2003 nineteen third and fourth grade elementary storytelling students took center stage in the school auditorium. The event was the first Student Storytelling Festival where their dedication and talent came together for a glorious evening of folktales, fables, myths and legends from around the world. Each child had personally selected their tale and their work quickly became a labor of love. Without hesitation each storyteller stepped to the microphone and whisked us away on the wings of story to England, Africa, Serbia, Russia, Canada, Tibet and beyond. It was an evening filled with individual and family pride, one which showcased not only the personality and skills of each student, but illustrated the virtues of camaraderie and team spirit. They gave it their all and succeeded beyond their wildest imaginations.

Why was this remarkable? According to scientific research, one of our greatest fears is public speaking, yet these young children took the stage with confidence and poise. Facing an audience of family, teachers, administrators, friends and peers, the young tellers held them in the palms of their hands for an hour.

How did it all begin? With one sentence. In 2002 I had been storytelling for only a few years when I approached one of the teachers and boldly stated, “I would love to start a student storytelling club.” With her support we bravely approached our principal with a proposal and the rest as they say is history!

I am now in my sixth year guiding the Story Explorer’s Troupe. Since its inception I have been privileged to work with over 140 children. I am continually amazed at the innovative, fun and creative work they offer their audiences but more importantly, the changes their teachers and parents observe in their classroom performance, personal confidence and positive peer interaction.Throughout the school year we work on basic storytelling skills, including voice intonation, body language, gestures, improvisation, and stage presence. Our goal is to take the show “on the road.” When the storytellers are ready I organize small group presentations for the teachers and students. The number of audience members increases with each performance; the storytellers continue to gain confidence and we end the school year with a storytelling festival for family, friends and community members. To read an article about last year’s event go to: http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070621/NEWS/706210378
Storytelling is a fun and exciting activity but it also aligns with many benchmarks of the educational curriculum across the country. Oral storytelling is rooted in tradition and myths, legends and folktales. It is the conduit that passes on the customs and values of other cultures, while enhancing a student’s view of the global community. The National Council of Teachers of English has published their Position Statement on the value of using storytelling in the classroom and Howard Gardner’s original Seven Styles of Learning (an eighth has now been added to the list: Naturalist Intelligence) offers guidelines on how storytellers and teachers can use the power of story to tap into each child’s specific learning style. In addition, storyteller Kendall Haven has compiled definitive research on how we are innately “hardwired for story.” He has generously given me permission to list some of his work on my website at http://www.storybug.net/teachers.htm. Kendall has recently published Story Proof, which offers a multitude of additional research on the wide-ranging, positive impact storytelling has in the classroom and beyond.

Since our first tentative steps the Story Explorers Troupe has continued to grow, partnerships have been forged and I have witnessed many astonishing and unexpected success stories. This June, on two separate evenings, 30 students will use the stage as their canvas and words as their paintbrush to craft a world colored by the magic of their imaginations. In 2002 a group of eager students took a chance with me and with themselves. Their first, tentative steps led them to explore the magic of storytelling and they in turn paved the way for others to discover that they too have stories to share.

Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences and their Applications to Storytelling

Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence

➢ Enjoy listening and talking to people.

➢ Enjoy listening and telling stories.

➢ Always successful learners by listening and hearing.

➢ Enjoys word games, puns, rhymes, tongue-twisters, and poetry.

Logical and mathematical Intelligence

➢ Like to ask questions and investigate.

➢ Enjoy strategy games, logical puzzles and experiments. (Riddle stories)

➢ Like to use computers. (Use Clip Art to storyboard)

➢ Looks for logical sequences and patterns. (Tangrams)

Visual/Spatial Intelligence

➢ Take information and translate it into images and pictures in their mind.

➢ Have the ability to retrieve the information through the images and pictures.
➢ Good in visual arts, sculpture, architecture and photography. (Storyboarding)

➢ Have the ability to reproduce clear images in their mind. (Visualization)

Bodily Kinesthetic Intelligence

➢ They are good with objects and activities involving their body, hands and fingers.

➢ More successful in learning if they can touch, manipulate and move or feel whatever they are learning. (Props)

➢ Children with high Kinesthetic Intelligence learn best with activities: games, acting, hands-on tasks, building.

➢ Uses their body well to express themselves. (Mime, origami, cut and tell)

Musical Intelligence

➢ Have the ability to here and recognize tones, rhythms and musical patterns.

➢ These people enjoy listening to music and singing to themselves.

➢ Musical children usually play a musical instrument.

➢ They learn through rhythm and melody. (Incorporate songs, chants or use an instrument in their storytelling)

Interpersonal Intelligence

➢ Sensitive to facial expressions, gestures and voice.

➢ Gets along with others and they are able to maintain good relationships.

➢ Like to teach other kids, take part in school organizations and clubs. (Peer Coaching)

➢ Have the ability to influence people and are natural leaders.

➢ Feels comfortable in a crowd. (Storytelling Performance)

Intrapersonal Intelligence

➢ They have the ability for self discipline to achieve personal goals.

➢ These children are self-motivated. (practice stories on their own)

➢ Prefer to study individually and learn best through observing and listening. (Self Critiques)

Naturalist Intelligence

➢ Nature smart (Pourquoi stories)

➢ Likes to spend time in nature; recognizes subtle meanings and patterns in nature.

➢ Likes to speak out about animal right and earth preservation. (Environmental stories)

➢ They would enjoy using audio/visual equipment to record nature. (Digital Storytelling)

WEB SITES OF INTEREST

Enoch Pratt Libraries


Listen to some of our most beloved storytellers share their tales in streaming video; a delight for children and adults alike. http://www.prattlibrary.org/home/storyIndex.aspx

Storybug.net


Karen Chace offers a global feast of folktale websites, each with a short synopsis. In addition, there is a smorgasbord of sites focusing on Oral History, Crafts, Arts Education, Puppetry, Grants, Teaching Tools and more! http://www.storybug.net

Story-Lovers.com


With the help of Storytell listserv members, storyteller Jackie Baldwin has compiled an extensive array of stories and books. Click on “SOS” and you will discover your own private folklore library right at your fingertips. Jackie even offers a Google search tool so story exploring is a breeze! http://www.story-lovers.com/

Storytelling Arts of Indiana

Teaching Guides, games, activities and resources from such quality tellers as Heather Forest, Doug Lipman, Rex Ellis, Doug Elliott, Janice Harrington and Ed Stivender. You can’t go wrong taking advice from this group! http://www.geocities.com/storiesinc/TeachersGuide.html#Games

Storytelling In Schools

After months of detailed research Jackie Baldwin and Kate Dudding have organized an amazing, downloadable booklet and brochure that will help you meet that question head on. Quantitative studies, innovative projects books, journals, articles and web sites are all at your fingertips, but the best part is that the project is not complete; it is an ongoing process that will be continually updated as new studies surface. http://www.storynet-advocacy.org/edu/how-to/index.shtml

BIBLIOGRAPHY

These books contain stories that are perfect for beginning student storytellers.

DeSpain, Pleasant Eleven Nature Tales: A Multicultural Journey Little Rock, Ark.: August House 1996

DeSpain, Pleasant. Thirty-Three Multicultural Tales to Tell. August House, 1997.DeSpain, Pleasant Twenty: Two Splendid Tales To Tell From Around the World Volume One August House 1994

DeSpain, Pleasant Twenty-Two Splendid Tales to Tell From Around the World Volume Two August House 1994

Hamilton, Martha and Mitch Weiss, Children Tell Stories, Richard C. Owen Publishers, Inc., 1990.

Hamilton, Martha and Mitch Weiss. How & Why Stories: World Tales Kids Can Read and Tell. August House, 1999.

Hamilton, Martha & Mitch Weiss: Noodlehead Stories: World Tales Kids Can Read & Tell: Little Rock, AR: August House, 2000.

Hamilton, Martha & Mitch Weiss (1996) Stories in My Pocket; Tales Kids Can Tell Golden, CO: Fulcrum Pub.

Hamilton, Martha & Mitch Weiss Through the Grapevine: World Tales Kids Can Read & Tell Little Rock: August House Publishers, 2001.

Raines, Shirley C. and Rebecca Isbell Tell It Again!: Easy-To Tell Stories With Activities For Young Children Beltsville, Md. : Gryphon House, c1999.

Raines, Shirley C. and Rebecca Isbell Tell It Again! 2: Easy-To-Tell Stories With Activities for Young Children Beltsville, MD: Gryphon House, 2000

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Remembering Leanne

Today is the one year anniversary of the passing on my dear friend Leanne Johnson, age 47...gone far, far too soon.

As I was just typing her last name I realized it should have been Leanne Joy because she brought so much love, warmth and spirit to the world. Leanne loved people, penguins, stories, music, puns and laughter. We are the poorer for her passing but the richer for her having graced our world.

Leanne was one of the first people to reach out and offer words of wisdom when I began my own storytelling journey. Whenever I needed resources, advice, help or encouragement she was there. In fact, I still have her voice on my answering machine, singing the words to a song I needed for a storytelling performance, her exuberance palpable across the wires as she laughing sang "Baby shark do do do do..." That is the the kind of person she was, going the extra mile, across the miles. Whenever I need a lift she is there, her voice rings out loud and strong, and I smile.

Thankfully, her voice and stories live on in cyber space; her myspace page is still online. If you would like to enter into her wonderful world of folktales through words and music stop in for a visit. You can even see Leanne "in action" at her last Northlands Storytelling Conference performance in all her glory on my friend Gwyn Calvetti's blog. My thanks to Gwyn for making sure that Leanne's light shines on. I was blessed to be in that audience and I can tell you that Leanne absolutely glowed that night!

Leanne was a skilled wordsmith as well and when the question was asked on the Storytell listserv, "How did you know when it was time to call yourself a "storyteller?" Leanne penned this wonderful poem:


When everything you hear,
tells you a story,
When everything you see,
reminds you of a story,
When everything you taste
conjures up a story,
When everything you smell,
evokes for you a story,
When everything you touch,
summons up a story,

You might indeed be a storyteller.

But it is not until
you release those stories,
Allow the images to free form into the
imaginations of others,
Spilling their seeds
into the creation of more stories,
Funneled through the love and cares of family and friends,
who will love you
regardless
Enriched, enhanced,
amplified with the hopes and dreams of strangers
who have no other reason to love
or care for you,
Nestled into the unconscious mind of a growing child
where they will grow with goodness and strength.

Ahh, then, call yourself a storyteller.

And when they offer you praise,
compliments,
bravos,
endorsements,
money...

Remember,
the sounds,
the sights,
the tastes,
the smells,
the touch,

Of the Love of Story.


And today, as I do each day, I remember my friend Leanne with love.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Song of Interruptions



Today on the Storytell listserv we were having a grand time sharing tales of the myriad of interruptions we have contended with while performing. They ran the gamut from the usual school fire drills to the more unusual, a pair of mating, and quite loud, turtles.

The discussion got me laughing and thinking so I sat down and wrote The Twelve Days of Stories, a parody on The Twelve Days of Christmas. Sing out everyone!



The Twelve Days of Stories
Karen Chace 2008 ©

On the first day of stories
my audience gave to me
A fly buzzing all around me

On the second day of stories,
my audience gave to me
Two mating turtles
and a fly buzzing all around me

On the third day of stories
my audience gave to me
Three topless women
two mating turtles
and a fly buzzing all around me

On the fourth day of stories,
my audience gave to me
Four flying Elvis
Three topless women
two mating turtles
and a fly buzzing all around me

On the fifth day of stories
my audience gave to me
Five toppling trees
Four flying Elvis
Three topless women
two mating turtles
and a fly buzzing all around me

On the sixth day of stories
my audience gave to me
Six fire drills
Five toppling trees
Four flying Elvis
Three topless women
two mating turtles
and a fly buzzing all around me

On the seventh day of stories,
my audience gave to me
Seven copters whirling
Six fire drills
Five toppling trees
Four flying Elvis
Three topless women
two mating turtles
and a fly buzzing all around me

On the eighth day of stories
my audience gave to me
Eight birds a squawking
Seven copters whirling
Six fire drills
Five toppling trees
Four flying Elvis
Three topless women
two mating turtles
and a fly buzzing all around me

On the ninth day of stories,
my audience gave to me
Nine bats a soaring
Eight birds a squawking
Seven copters whirling
Six fire drills
Five toppling trees
Four flying Elvis
Three topless women
two mating turtles
and a fly buzzing all around me

On the tenth day of stories,
my audience gave to me
Ten ponies riding
Nine bats a soaring
Eight birds a squawking
Seven copters whirling
Six fire drills
Five toppling trees
Four flying Elvis
Three topless women
two mating turtles
and a fly buzzing all around me

On the eleventh day of stories
my audience gave to me
Eleven pipers piping (I get to reuse this one because of my friends bagpipers :)
Ten ponies riding
Nine bats a soaring
Eight birds a squawking
Seven copters whirling
Six fire drills
Five toppling trees
Four flying Elvis
Three topless women
two mating turtles
and a fly buzzing all around me

On the twelfth day of stories
my audience gave to me
Twelve bands a playing
Eleven pipers piping
Ten ponies riding
Nine bats a soaring
Eight birds a squawking
Seven copters whirling
Six fire drills
Five toppling trees
Four flying Elvis
Three topless women
Two mating turtles
And a fly buzzing all around me

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Journey Of A Thousand Stories

2007-2008 Fourth Grade Story Explorers













The following is an article I wrote for the Florida Storytelling Newsletter. I thought I would share it with you as well.

Great Oaks from Little Acorns Grow
Karen Chace ©

Once upon a time….Isn’t that how all wonderful stories begin? In June of 2002 I heard myself saying “I would love to start a Storytelling Club next year” during a conversation with Lisa, a fourth grade teacher at our school. And like Jack’s magic bean, the seed was planted. Last year we ushered in our sixth Student Storytelling Program and the troupe has now named themselves, The Story Explorers! Other storytellers often ask how it all began so I offer you a very brief blueprint of the pilot program, one which continues to be revised and nurtured each year.

2007-2008 Third Grade Story Explorers


Beating the Drums
Enlisting Lisa’s support was important since this would impact curriculum time. In September we began brainstorming ideas; the teachers agreed to offer the Storytelling Club to the third and fourth grade students.

First Steps
I wrote the proposal, sent copies to the teachers, and requested their comments on day, time, location and curriculum connections; a crucial step for the teachers to feel invested in the program.

The Pitch
Lisa and I met with the principal and explained our vision. Lisa’s participation reinforced the Storytelling Club’s faculty support. With the principals blessing I met with the PTO board, presented the proposal, and received full funding. A Massachusetts Cultural Grant funded the program in 2003 and has continued to offer some funding each year; the rest is supplemented by the Parent Teachers Organization.

Gaining Momentum
I met with the students, explained the program, and provided letters for their parents outlining our goals. Permission slips were returned and the teachers began the selection process; self starters who could maintain their studies while undertaking this new program. However, I strongly suggested they consider those who experienced difficulty with traditional teaching methods. I believed they would benefit as well, if not more; an insight that has proven to be true again and again.

The Beginning
I began with the fourth grade students in group format for ten weeks. I reiterated our goals; storytelling for their peers throughout the year and producing a Storytelling Festival in June. We created a Student Storytelling Contract outlining ways we would support each other throughout the year.

The Process
As the weeks progressed they participated in many activities that demonstrated:

o Gesture
o Vocalization
o Intonation
o Mime
o Improvisation

Story genres were discussed, we visited the 398.2 section in our school library and I researched my personal folklore collection, choosing age appropriate stories for review. I offered guidance but did not select their stories sharing my motto, “You don’t pick the story, the story picks you!” Through storyboarding, visualization and other activities they began to internalize their stories. They also learned how to use a microphone properly while practicing before the story group. Even the shyest child glowed once the lavaliere was in place!

Building Bridges
Group coaching sessions followed Doug Lipman’s methods of Affirmations and Suggestions. Each student also received several individual coaching sessions with me. During these sessions I videotaped each teller and immediately played it back for their review. This self-assessment tool empowered them to identify their strengths and weaknesses, making a significant impact on their telling styles.

Let the Stories Begin!
We began with a small audience format, telling in one classroom at a time for approximately 25 students. After a few weeks, I grouped two classes together; the tellers were now sharing their stories with approximately 50 students. We slowly progressed from the classroom, to a larger activities room, and finally graduated to the auditorium, which would be the setting for our June storytelling festival. * At this time I began the second ten-week group phase with the third grade students.

Performance Support
I was always present, staying within their direct line of sight. If they momentarily lost their train of thought they could look to me for specific visual cues. Their story buddies also offered encouraging smiles, a pat on the back and high fives! The moment they all feared, the moment when their fellow students would laugh at them, never materialized. Instead, they heard words of admiration, delight and or course, applause!

The Festival Finale!
Without hesitation each teller stepped to the microphone, greeted 165 audience members and whisked us away on the wings of story. The evening showcased not only the confidence, personality and skills of each student, but illustrated the virtues of camaraderie and team spirit. They found their voice!

Since 2002 one hundred and fifty students have taken part in the program. The seeds were sown with one statement, "I would love to start a Storytelling Club", and we happily continue to nurture new tellers with each passing year.

To read an article on this year's festival go to:
Freetown Youngsters Explore Art of Storytelling.
To hear an interview about the storytelling program on Eric Wolf's wonderful podcast site, click here and go: Karen Chace. If you are interested in the free resources I offer at the end of the podcast, I will be happy to share them with you as well. Contact me at storybug@aol.com and I will email them to you right away.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hot Fun in the City...

Today was another fun, if HOT storytelling day! The temperature was over 90 degrees, that steamy kind of day when the heat hangs heavy in the air. My venue was outside at the beautiful New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park Visitor Center. The city has lovingly restored an old bank, circa 1853, pictured here, connecting it with another building, while maintaining the architectural integrity of both.

There is a delightful garden in between the two buildings, which is where I told today. They love to offer programming in the garden during the summer so locals and tourists who are passing by will be intrigued and stop to stay for a bit. The director was kind enough to have a small pop up tent, the kind used at art fairs, to offer me a bit of shade for the two shows. Yet, even the ocean breeze that wound its way up the main street from time to time offered no respite. Due to the oppressive heat we didn't expect a huge turnout and indeed the audiences were small, but very appreciative.

I told stories of mermaids, whales, and a magic fish to name a few, and we even did a boogie woogie fish dance!

HAVE YOU EVER GONE A FISHING

Have you ever been a fishing
Have you ever been a-fishing on a hot summer day,
And seen all the little fishies swimming up and down the bay,
With their hands in their pockets and their pockets in their pants
And all the little fishies doin’ the hootchie kootchie dance.

Chorus:
With their hands in their pockets and their pockets in their pants.
All the little fishies doin’ the hootchie kootchie dance. (I changed this to boogie woogie dance)

For the complete song go to: http://www.ultimatecampresource.com/site/camp-activity/have-you-ever-been-a-fishing.html

Here is a lovely version of the Magic Fish from Old Peter's Russian Tales...

THE GOLDEN FISH

"Long ago, near the shore of the blue sea, an old man lived with his old woman in a little old hut made of earth and moss and logs. They never had a rouble to spend. A rouble! they never had a kopeck. They just lived there in the little hut, and the old man caught fish out of the sea in his old net, and the old woman cooked the fish; and so they lived, poorly enough in summer and worse in winter. Sometimes they had a few fish to sell, but not often.

In the summer evenings they sat outside their hut on a broken old bench, and the old man mended the holes in his ragged old net. There were holes in it a hare could jump through with his ears standing, let alone one of those little fishes that live in the sea. The old woman sat on the bench beside him, and patched his trousers and complained.

Well, one day the old man went fishing, as he always did. All day long he fished, and caught nothing. And then in the evening, when he was thinking he might as well give up and go home, he threw his net for the last time, and when he came to pull it in he began to think he had caught an island instead of a haul of fish, and a strong and lively island at that—the net was so heavy and pulled so hard against his feeble old arms.

"This time," says he, "I have caught a hundred fish at least."
Not a bit of it. The net came in as heavy as if it were full of fighting fish, but empty ——.

"Empty?" said Maroosia.

"Well, not quite empty," said old Peter, and went on with his tale...."

For the rest of the story go to http://www.mainlesson.com/display.php?author=ransome&book=russian&story=fish


Afterwards, a light lunch in one of my favorite downtown restaurants was in order, with a tall glass of ice water and lemon on one side, and a cool gin and tonic on the other. The evening found me at a friend's birthday party. The night air rearranged the heat of the day and kept everyone comfortably warm as we played lawn games, ate delicious food, laughed and talked around the chimenea until the full moon turned red in the sky. Good friends, good food and eager ears to listen to a few good stories; a day well-spent indeed.

Friday, July 18, 2008

From A-Z Folklore, Fairytales, Myths and Legends From Around the World

There is a wealth of public domain stories available on the Internet. Part of my work is writing a research column for the national Storytelling Magazine, a member benefit of the National Storytelling Network. I research and evaluate web sites specific to the art of Oral Tradition and write short synopses to accompany them.

Permission for private use of this compilation is granted. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without written permission. For permission please contact me at storybug@aol.com.

From time to time I will add some storytelling sites to my blog to help folks find their way down the cyber highway. Here are a few to whet your appetite; I hope you find them useful. If you would like to read more go to my Storytelling Links page at www.storybug.net

Absolutely Whootie: Stories to Grow By
Multicultural folktales searchable by continent and country; free writing assignments and play scripts as well.

The AFRO-American Almanac
An extensive list of folktales, biographical and historical information, as well as excerpts from literary works.

Applit
Jack Tales, poetry, authors, study guides and lesson plans, bibliographies and an index categorized by genre. The entire site is focused on Appalachian Literature.

American Folklore
Take an armchair journey with folktales, myths, legends, Tall Tales and ghost stories from the 50 United States. Tales are clearly indexed so you won’t even need to ask for directions.

Andrew Lang ~ The Literature Network
There isn’t a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, but a prism of fairytale books to add to your riches. http://www.online-literature.com/andrew_lang/

Arabian Nights
Let Scheherazade lead you through the ancient and mysterious world of Ali Baba and Sinbad; fall under the spell of a 1001 nights.

The Baldwin Project
The Baldwin Project is a virtual page turner, a comprehensive collection of literature in the public domain. Read tales from as far back as 1880. The works of such luminaries as Padraic Colum, Howard Pyle, Andrew Lang, and James Baldwin will light your way.

The Electronic Text Center - University of Virginia Library
Browse by culture: English, French, German, Spanish, Latin, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Apache, Greek, Hebrew, Tibetan, Icelandic, Italian and Portuguese.

The Encyclopedia of Hotcâk (Winnebago) Mythology
The most comprehensive site I have found on Native American folktales. There is an extensive index of stories by subject matter, myths, maps, and legends.

A Flowering Tree and Other Oral Tales from India
The entire book by A. K. Ramanujan is online for generations to read, relish and enjoy.

Folklore and Mythology
By far one of the most comprehensive sites on folklore and mythology from around the world. The tales are numerous and grouped alphabetically by genre. There is also another link to Germanic folklore. This is a jewel of a site, one you will visit again and again.

H-NILAS: "Stories for the Seasons"
An excellent array of seasonal stories. From forest to frogs, moons to maidens, storyteller Cathy Mosley offers us her folktale adaptations from around the world.

Irish Studies
All things Irish; weddings, wakes, tales, music, song, Gaelic and more. Slainte!

Learning to Give
Be sure to bookmark this fabulous site! Lesson plans, complementary folktales, and parent resources to involve students in philanthropy and serving their communities.

Mysterious Britain
Banshees, Black Dogs and Bessie Dunlop are but a few of the folktales and legends from England, Wales and Scotland. Visit with faeries, selkies, dragons and giants but beware, don’t stay tarry too long in one of the haunted castles.

Mything Links
An Annotated & Illustrated Collection of Worldwide Links to Mythologies, Fairy Tales & Folklore, Sacred Arts & Traditions. Fairies and dragons, creation stories and star lore, there is more information here than you could ever hope to digest.

Nasreddin Hodja
Filled with information and stories about the beloved character of Turkish tales, this website is also a portal to many other Hodja sites.

Norwegian Folk Tales
Twenty-four folktales to warm our hearts through the winter.

Russian Tales
Many delightful tales from Russia and the Ukraine and details on Russian traditions from Christmas to weddings.

Sacred Text Archives
Explore the world through this amazing collection of texts on religion, mythology, legends, folklore, and more.

Spirit of Trees
Cristy West’s growing website offers curricular resources, essays, organizational links, poetry and folktales from some of our leading storytellers and scholars. Rest in the cool shade of its branches and let the spirit of the trees nourish your soul.

Story Lovers
Storyteller Jackie Baldwin designs notepads, stationery and more with breathtaking fairytale and folklore illustrations from long ago. In addition, with the help of Storytell listserv members, Jackie has compiled an extensive array of stories and books. Click on “Exclusively for Storytellers” and you will discover your own private folklore library right at your fingertips.

SurLaLune Fairy Tales
Stories and the history behind the tales, cross cultural references, extensive individual bibliographies and modern interpretations. The SurLaLane pages are an incredible resource for storytellers, librarians and teachers.

Tibetan Folktales
Twenty tales from the ancient country of Tibet; search for Missing Treasure, beware the Island of Beautiful Women and meet Tibet’s first king.

Tons-o-Trickster!
There are more trickster links here than you could possible hope to surf in one sitting; anything and everything related to the elusive trickster. I kid you not!

Zen Stories
Over fifty stories in the Zen tradition. "This web site is a collection of stories from the Orient, mostly Zen and Taoist tales. Think of these tales as conversation pieces, as handy tools that you can lift out of your pocket to help you and others talk, think, and laugh about the wondrous and mysterious details of this thing we call life."

Zine 5 Folktale Archives
Hidden among the pages of this magazine publication is a distinctive selection of characteristic folktales from six continents.

Fairytales, Folktales and Fun!

On Tuesday night I gave a storytelling performance, A Treasure Chest of Fairytales and Folktales at a library an hour and a half away from home. The following afternoon, I had another show two hours away from there and two hours from home so it made sense so stay overnight at a hotel and just drive to the second venue in the morning.

Both librarians were lovely. The evening performance offered a small audience, only four children but if I could clone these four young ladies and place them in my pocket for every venue I will ever have I would! They were beyond delightful, participating, laughing, sharing; they love to read and hear stories! The librarian apologized for the small turnout but mused that the last week or so had been very slow and felt many were on vacation. I assured her no apology was necessary. When you have an audience such as those girls, you can't help but have fun!

The second venue was full of animal tales from around the world, a show I call Jaws, Claws and Paws. This librarian also knew how to take care of her performers. She made fantastic posters announcing the venue, placed publicity in the paper, connected with local summer programs, told me she would hold the audience outside the telling space until I told her I was ready. She understood that tellers need time to step into their story space, told everyone to silence their cell phones, and even had a teenage helper to assist with crowd control. Both the librarian and the young lady were a dream come true and the audience as well, about a hundred folks were in attendance ready to have fun!

At this show there was an adorable little girl, about five years old in the audience. She came in a pink sundress and pink rain boots! Too cute. She sat right on the floor, first row, just to the left of me and was so very attentive.

As part of my intro to the story of Tiddalick the First Frog I asked the children if they knew what the land down under was called, where the kangaroos live. (I added that last part since last time when I only asked the first part a child loudly called out, HELL! :) As I began the story the child jumped up, ran over to her father, grabbed her library book and ran right up to me, thrusting out the book for me to see. I looked down to read the title, _The Land Down Under_. She was so pleased with herself! She certainly didn't disturb me or the flow of the story. Those moments are delightful!

Tomorrow is another day filled with storytelling, Tales With Scales - Fish Stories From Around the World. Who knows what stories the audience will share with me!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

More Than A Poem...

In my last post I mentioned that I spent time at the Gulu Gulu Cafe, listening and learning from some amazing artists. One of those artists is named David Gerard and he shared his brand new piece. I was so moved and impressed I requested permission to post it here on my blog and he generously agreed. David is not only a poet but a musician, composing since 1984, and photographer as well. If you would like to order his music go to http://cdbaby.com/all/ambientism .

My thanks to David for allowing me to to place this poem wants here for all of you to ponder upon.

this poem wants
by David Gerard © 2008

this poem wants
to invent a new language
that will express our desires
in a less destructive way
this poem wants
to sing your praises
at the top of its lungs
from the mezzanine of Grand Central Station
this poem wants
all the generals and majors everywhere
to come to the table
with an open mind and a softer heart
this poem wants
to heal the lepers of their wounds
and make the broken whole again
this poem wants
to scatter the ashes of great philosophers
into the aqueduct of our reservoirs
this poem wants to round up
all the tv anchormen and weathergirls
and remove their bronzing foundation
and artificial dispositions
this poem wants a moratorium
on commercials selling drugs, cosmetics, cars and sex
this poem wants
walt whitman to be required reading in all the classrooms of america
this poem wants to travel
around the world in a hot air balloon
releasing pamphlets from veterans for peace and greenpeace
this poem wants a national holiday
for harvey milk,
this poem wants to strap on a stratocaster
and wail the ‘what the hell happened to my country?’ blues
this poem wants the youth of america
to put down their iPods and cellphones long enough
to detect the jackboots of fascism
marching behind them
this poem wants a new religion
encompassing all religions into one universal, utilitarian deity
that is only love in action
this poem wants an end to the madness
masquerading as national security
this poem wants to let its hair down,
grow a shaman’s beard and swim naked
in the river of enlightenment
this poem wants to take your shackles and blinders off
and show you what it really means
to be free.

An Ocean of Fun!

I had the most delightful and insightful storytelling day yesterday. I drove to beautiful, scenic, Rockport, MA to take part in the annual Story Train, sponsored by the wonderful libraries and librarians around the Cape Ann area.

About six hundred family members board a train that brings them to a lovely spot by the ocean, Millbrook Meadow, to picnic and listen to stories. Three storytellers, Tony Toledo, Nora Dooley and myself shared tales for 45 minutes. At the end, Tony decided we would all do a quick story improv, a real surprise to us! Tony started the tale about a tree and, a tree that could walk no less! As we each too turns it grew and grew (no pun intended). At one point I said "And the willow made it's way to the city where a great folk festival was taking place. He took out his harmonica and began a wild riff." Now it was Nora's turn. I hadn't noticed she was wearing tiny harmonica earrings and quick as a wink she took one off and began to play. The audience erupted in laughter. One of those "we couldn't have planned it any better moments." Great fun!

Afterwards, Tony and I spent the day roaming the quaint and eclectic seaside
shops of Rockport, finding fun at every turn and he made sure he took me to see the most painted spot there. The red fisherman's shack has been the subject of so many paintings it is now called Motif I.

One store was like stepping back in time into one of those all purpose General Stores, filled with penny candy, popcorn, postcards, games,and of course books. There I found a slim volume, New England's Mad and Mysterious Men, which looks like it will be an interesting read.

Later, we went for a tour of Manchester by the Sea, another gorgeous, New England seaside town. We stopped at a used bookstore, Manchester by the Book, which is chockfull of nooks and crannies to ramble through. Mark, the owner, guided me to a small back room where I found two folktale books, one with stories from Vietnam and another from Central America.


Later, we went to a new open mic venue Tony hosts at an eclectic restaurant, the Gulu Gulu Cafe and he is the consommute MC, making each performer feel valued and appreciated. My plan was to go, listen and support him but he secretly signed me up to tell in the second slot and before I knew it I was being introduced. Since we'd spent the day together by the sea I decided to tell my adaptation of a Massachusetts folktale, Long John and the Mermaid. I am so accustomed to telling for children it is a rare treat when I get to share a story with an adult audience. It was grand to see that they were just as attentive and appreciative and were delighted with the story.

The other folks who took the stage offered a wide-range of pieces from
poetry, to excerpts from plays, to creative writing, to political essays. Some of
their work gave me chills. One multi-talent artist (poet, photographer and
musician) shared a poem he wrote that needs to be read by all of the politicians in America!

There was even a sixteen year old young man who shared something he had just written that day; he displayed such talent and poise, amazing! The headliner was comedian George Seibel who was not only funny but politically charged, a la the late great George Carlin. There were many powerful, thought-provoking pieces and I began to think that the offering I'd brought to the table was a bit trite but I was assured by many that they loved the storytelling and asked me to come back and tell again. I guess in this upside world we especially need fantasy in our lives all the more!

Bravo to Tony and the Gulu Gulu Cafe for giving us all the chance to gather, play, laugh and think!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Good Time for Storytelling!


Storytelling has been very good to me of late. Today, I had the pleasure of performing two shows at a beautiful art gallery, Artworks, in the historic city of New Bedford for Summerfest, an annual event with delicious food, including homemade ice cream, fabulous music and kiosks filled with handmade wares of every shape and size.

Artworks offered crafts for the children to make and take, a new installation of art for the adults and storytelling for everyone. The children were grand and we had lots of fun traveling the world with story.

This past Thursday I completed a two week program at our local Summer Cafe. Each year the school district offers, each in two week intervals, for children to take and of course, learn. They offer cooking, tennis, math, art, etc., and for the first time this year, storytelling. My group, ranging in ages from 7 - 10. met for eight days, two hours a day, to learn the art of storytelling, choose their stories, practice, practice and practice some more. Each day they clamored for a story so I got to practice as well. On Thursday they performed for two small groups of children who are taking other classes.

We went to the library early, where they would perform, to rehearse one more time, I did some relaxation breathing with them and then one of my boys, suggested we meditate. He is eight! Evidently, his mother's friend is a drummer and before he performs he mediates. I asked him to explain it and show how to do for the other children and he did! We all sat cross-legged on the floor, closed our eyes, turned our arms and hands out and he began, "Om..." I couldn't help peeking and all of the children were actually doing it!

It seemed to work! One young boy, the youngest of the group, was moving so much when he practiced he actually tripped himself a few times. He had a bit of trouble story each time he practiced and I wasn't sure what would happen in performance. I was so surprised when began to tell today. He was so at ease, so comfortable, having tons of fun, and with a gleam in his eye he told his Irish tale. He completely surprised me! I was overjoyed for him.

The other first time tellers were grand as well and were so very proud of
themselves. They all received their story stones and Applause Awards and asked me to start a story troupe at their middle school in September.

From local storytelling to the world wide web! Last month I was lucky enough to be a guest on Eric Wolf's program, The Art of Storytelling With Children. Every Tuesday Eric interviews storytellers and educators from around the country on a variety of issues pertaining to storytelling. You may call in and listen, then at the end ask questions, or visit his site later and listen in. Each guest also shares a blog post, offering more insight and information. My interview was posted on the web this week and if you have some time you can stop by for a listen. Just click and go: Karen Chace. If you are interested in the free resources I offer at the end of the podcast, I will be happy to share them with you as well. Contact me at storybug@aol.com and I will email them to you right away.

A good time for storytelling indeed!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Go West Young Man...or in this case "girl".


A few weeks ago I traveled to Washington State and Vancouver, British Columbia. One stop at the end of my vacation was a delightful Art Fair in Edmonds, WA. There were lots of kiosks with all types of wares: flowers, pottery, fresh honey, jewelry, gorgeous handmade quilts and art work of every shape in size.

One particularly creative artist I met was Judy Meddaugh, a botanical collage artist who fashions jewelry, cards, ceramics and pictures out of plants and flowers. You can view some of her amazing work by clicking on her name above I purchased two of her jewelry items for gifts and coveted much of her art work. Many pieces were reasonably priced, while some were out of my reach. However, since I was traveling, the thought of carrying a framed piece of work onto a plane didn't appeal to me. The next best thing was to buy some of her cards, which I will frame and display.

Of course, the storyteller in me had to buy one card that shared a story on the back. Here is the Native American legend from the Samish Tribe.


The Maiden of Deception Pass

Ko-kwal-alwoot was a beautiful Samish Indian girl living in a village in Deception Pass. She was gathering seafood one day when a young man from beneath the sea saw her and fell in love. But when the man of the sea asked her father for her hand in marriage, he refused, for fear she would drown.

The young man warned her father that the seafood would disappear unless she married him. When his warning proved to be true, her father granted permission for the marriage. The beautiful woman waded in to the sea to join her new husband. Once again the seafood returned and was plentiful.

Ko-kwal-awoot returned to her people once a year for four years. Barnacles had grown upon her hands and arms, and her long raven hair turned to kelp. Chill winds followed wherever she walked, and she seemed to be unhappy out of the sea. Seeing this, her people told her she did not need to return to them. Since that day, she has been the Samish Tribe's guiding spirit, and through her protection there has always been plenty of seafood and pure, sweet spring water.

I discovered a bit longer version of the tale on the Internet, which explains a little more about the statue itself. Carved out of red cedar it has two sides, one side depicts a beautiful maiden, the other tells the tale of her fate.

There are many more stories to share about my trip but that will have to wait for another day. The sunshine is calling!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A Father's Day Story

Father's Day is fast approaching and naturally my thoughts turn to my own father who passed away in July of 2005. He was on many levels a complicated man and some things I will never understand, just quietly accept, but I do remember some of the good times we shared.

One of those good times took place when I was just a young girl. To fully appreciate what happened this day you should know that my father always took great pride in his appearance. His clothes were always neatly pressed and starched, thanks to my mother since I never saw him iron anything. During the 1960's many men still wore a shirt and tie when out with their families, even for something as mundane as an afternoon stroll at the local zoo.

I remember it was a warm, sunny day, most likely a Sunday afternoon as I was dressed in my "going to church" clothes and wearing my favorite black patent leather shoes. (Obviously my shoe fetish began at an early age.) I was about five years old, still young enough for my mother to keep a firm grip on my tiny hand as we wound our way down the serpentine paths, stopping at each animal cage I am sure. Yet, I only recall seeing the llamas, and with good reason!

We stopped at the enclosure holding those mysterious, exotic looking creatures; my older sister and I stood dutifully on either side of our mother. My father approached the metal chain link fence, the modern barrier between man and beast, and one llama slowly ambled over. Delighted, my sister and I began to pull up some of the grass growing between the cement walkway and the fence, carefully poking the blades through the fence, giggling as it gently nibbled it from our chubby, child-like fingers. As the llama ate, his great, puffy lips pursed comically as it chewed carefully and deliberately.

My father was also a great jokester and so he placed his face as close as he could up to the fence, directly in line with the llama, and slowly began to mimic his munching motions. Now I told you he was a snappy dresser and today was no exception, which made the scene even more ridiculous. Here was this handsome, wavy red-haired man, smartly dressed in a white starched shirt, perfectly knotted tie and sharply creased pants acting the part of a llama sloppily chewing his treat. Encouraged by our giggling his facial contortions became more and more exaggerated. He was having such a grand time entertaining us he didn't notice the llama moving closer to the fence until they were finally almost nose to nose.

To this day I swear I saw the llama steal a glance over to my sister and me before he deliberately turned once more to my father, opened his mouth and forcefully, and very indelicately, spewed all of its contents into his face. That split second scene sent my mother, sister and me into an immediate wave of belly laughter, that is until we realized dad wasn't laughing at all! Quickly, my mother did her best to quiet us down while simultaneously digging into her purse to find something to wipe off his face as we continued to giggle as quietly as we could.

I don't remember anything else from that comical trip to the zoo but I do remember that time does heal a broken ego. In later years we were all able to recount that day with my father and laugh about it together. Those llamas are long gone but the universe does have a wicked sense of humor. My sister moved a few years ago and one of her new neighbors raises those feisty animals. Every time I drive by I am reminded of the llama that put my father in his place!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Leaving On A Jet Plane...

Soon I will be heading off into the sunset; this is my last day on the extraordinary Garden Island of Kauai. I can certainly understand why people return again and again. During a conversation with our waiter last night he told me he and his family had just moved here from California. They came for a visit, went back home, sold almost everything, packed what was left and relocated here. Certainly a bold move but one he does not regret. I certainly hope to return one day. The experience has been filled not only with grand opportunities to see the island by land and air but with the warmth of the Hawaiian people.

Before I go back to my room to finish packing I will leave you with some more virtual sightseeing and finish when I return home. Early in the week, as I was driving around the island I heard a promo for one of the libraries on the island. They were having a book sale! Books to a storyteller are like honey to bees so when I came back to the hotel I googled all of the libraries, since I couldn’t remember the name and without too much trouble located the one I needed. The next day I drove over and introduced myself to Mark, who was very happy to know I had heard the advertisement. I asked his help on finding stories of the Menehune (he was very pleased that I pronounced it correctly) and was very helpful in locating some lore and legend of the islands for me. I gave him my card and asked if he would pass it on to the director when he had a moment. I found a comfortable couch in the back of the room and curled up to read some of the tales. To my surprise the director appeared to say hello. We chatted briefly and then she excused herself to get things ready for the book sale, which was to begin the next day. I returned on Saturday to find a 1947 book by Isak Dinesen, Winter Tales, a bargain at only one dollar!

Saturday morning was the fantastic helicopter ride I mentioned earlier. If you come to Kauai don’t miss the chance to take one as there are parts of the island you can access that are not available to the human eye any other way. The helicopter was new, spacious, and I felt very safe.

Saturday and Sunday ran together so I am not sure now what was seen on what day but does it really matter? One day we took a drive around the island to see the Waimea Canyon, known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. If you have ever seen the Grand Canyon in AZ think of this as a more diminutive version, but incredibly impressive nonetheless. We stopped at various lookout points, some being a bit more majestic than others, but each offering its own unique view and beauty. We continued all the way to the top for what is hailed as “the best view in the Pacific.” Just as we exited the car raindrops began to fall. Undaunted we trekked our way up the incline to the lookout only to find ourselves enveloped in the clouds, which was pretty cool all on its own, but then the rain became more intense. Unable to catch any of the view we reluctantly headed back to the car; at least we tried!

Next stop, the Kilauea Lighthouse, a postcard perfect landmark, perched on a bluff that represents the northernmost part of the main Hawaiian Islands.
Built in 1913 it had the largest clamshell lens in existence until it was replaced by a beacon in the 1970’s. There is a bird sanctuary nearby as well and you can take a self-guided tour. Next time.

Later we drove to Ha'Ena Beach, said to be one of the ten best beaches on Hawaii.If you look in the background of the picture below you will see the "Bali Hai" mountain seen in the movie musical "South Pacific."
We took a relaxing walk along the shore but the waves were a bit angry to attempt a swim. As we strolled the beach two young men, about 12 or 13 approached us with leis to sell; I noticed them in the parking area when we arrived stringing the leis together. They were so earnest I selected fragrant creamy white and pink lei. They assured me they were using the money for school.


Today I decided to try and find the Menehune’s Fish Pond. The Menehune’s are (some say) mythical Hawaiian creatures, the size of Irish Leprechauns. They are also tricksters, speak with a low growl much like a dog and any feat they undertake must be finished in one day or leave it forever. Many Hawaiians say that the unfinished rock walls around the island are from their unfinished tasks. So today, armed with my GPS I set out to find the Menehune (Alekoko) Fishpond. According to legend, it was built in one night as a gift for a princess and her brother. Some say it is 1,000 years old.

I typed in the name of the road and off I went. I drove and drove, then drove some more, and finally decided to stop for lunch. I couldn’t imagine that it was much further. When I got back into the car I realized that the GPS (or was it the Menehunes?) had taken me in the opposite direction. Hmmmm I laughed to myself out loud and promised the Menehunes that I would be respectful if they allowed me to locate the pond and off I went. This time I was successful. Coincidence? You decide. The fishpond was truly impressive, with the jagged volcanic mountains jutting up all around. I took many pictures then headed out to find a secluded waterfall off the beaten path, Kipu Falls. Initially I passed right by the dirt road opening, there are no markers as the falls is on private land, but after crossing the one lane bridge I realized my mistake and turned around. Although it is private property local community activists contend that access has occurred for so long, a “prescriptive easement” exists.

So armed with camera and cell phone (just in case I was lost n the wilderness…hey it has happened to me before) I set off on the 10 minute hike down the dirt path. I was immediately surrounded by tall stalks of green sugar cane; after a few minutes I began to wonder if I was headed in the right direction but just then a couple passed by going the opposite way and assured me I was on the right path. Wouldn't it be nice if we could meet up with folks like that along the way in life? :)I began to hear the sound of the rushing water as I hiked closer and closer. When I arrived I had to scramble down lots of lava rocks leading to the waterfall and pool below. Unfortunately, I hadn’t packed my sneakers since this was a last minute diversion, and made the best of flip flops, alternating between hopping between the rocks and sliding down the red clay-like dirt.


It was we worth the effort, the area is serene, cool and lush, a perfect place to spend time and commune a bit with nature, the air was fresh, and filled with the scent of tropical flowers. Ahhhhh...The scent of the flowers on the island is so strong they actually use them as natural fragrances in public bathrooms.I found my way back without any trouble, satisfied and happy that I had taken the time to stop and smell the roses,or in this case, the hibiscus!

Before going to dinner last night a long walk on the beach was called for. The waves were high, rushing in quickly, making the white caps dance as they made their way to shore. A local woman was slowly dragging a net into the water and we stopped to ask her what she was trying to catch. She showed us some tiny sand turtles; their entire body is white and looks somewhat crablike although they don’t bite. I held one for a bit and shared how we catch clams in New England the old fashioned way, digging the sand with our toes until we strike a hard shell. We said our good-byes and went our separate ways.

Time for me to finish packing for the long flight home; Aloha for now!