The weather turned cold Thursday. Friday I was awakened by sleet beating against our very well insulated home. Sleet, snow and freezing rain fell most of the day. Yesterday was raw. I went out in hopes of taking a few photos, but the day grew progressively darker. The last three evenings the cat and I spent curled before the fire. This morning, the seeds Jennie planted in the studio are sprouting, there are bird calls in the air, and the cat has ventured out into a warmer world, twice.
I have been reading books published in the Routledge Innovative Ethnographies series. A few days ago I devoured Water in A Dry Land, a marvelous book by Margaret Somerville. The text details a project Margaret organized with the goal of providing a rich description of the waterways of the Murray-Darling Basin in Australia, emphasizing Aboriginal voices. I found it a difficult, painful, and exhilarating read. Now I am reading Ferry Tales, by Phillip Vannini, another book in the series.
These books share the task of introducing the reader to human worlds vastly different from those most of us inhabit, or view in the media. The Murry-Darling Basin is one of the driest places on the planet. Coastal British Columbia, the setting for Ferry Tales, is amongst the wettest. Both are immensely isolated. Somerville gives primacy to Aboriginal voices and images; Vannini attends his personal experience of place. One immerses us in the Dreaming, the other points us toward the dreaming that underlies everyday experience. Both are richly storied.
Good books remind us, as do the Elders, shamans, and healers, the stories we tell, and that tell us, request our attention. Stories draw us from one place, person, or occupation to another; they lead us on, for good or ill. The tales we tell shape us, our relationships to persons and planet, and our understanding of who we are, and might become. Stories have immense power, literally singing us into existence. What are the guiding stories in your life? How have they shaped the evolution of your life and who you are as a person?