Thursday, 29 May 2014

Fireside Tales


I find there is something so cosy about the idea of a small dwelling in the middle of nowhere, where everyone is gathered closely together, around a fire, surrounded by everything they need to survive a long, cold winter night full of ancient, enchanting stories told by a revered storyteller. Ah, I know it's practically June... but here is an excerpt from a traditional Aboriginal story that just makes me swoon.

"Outside the longhouse, the wailing wind whips the snow into high drifts…All the animals are safely tucked away in the dens and burrows. It is so cold that the wolf won't even be howling tonight.

Inside the longhouse, a log is thrown on the fire. Sparks shoot up and dance through the dark…Wisps of smoke swirl around the drying corn, beans, and squash hanging from the longhouse rafters.

The birch-bark walls are lined with baskets of ground corn and bundles of hollowed reeds and painted clay pots, filled with dry meat, berries, and fish. Above the fur-lined sleeping platforms are shelves piled with soft tanned hides, baskets of shells in glowing colors, sewing awls, and lengths of sinew.

The elders sit by the warm lodge fire, quietly talking of past winters. The women are stitching and beading new moccasins, shirts, and leggings. The men dream of the spring hunt as they craft new bows and arrows. Children fidget as they wait. Finally it is time.

—"The Little People"
Kahnawake People of Canada
Spirits, Fairies and Merpeople (C.J. Taylor)

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