Stories from the Edge of the World

Evening CloudThe 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?

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7 thoughts on “Stories from the Edge of the World

  1. i’ve been reading lots too. recently i read, “the inconvenient indian” by thomas king. king outlines the choices made my colonizers in north america and also the pov of how the land is viewed as a commodity and for resource extraction. it’s part history, part sarcasm, and part gut wrenching. it’s needed though to have another view of history. and tough. i also finished on friday, “the last guardian” the last book of the artemis fowl series by eoin colfer. it was really sad to come to the end of such a great series. i found myself in tears while i was on the bus and at times laughing to myself. the series takes place in dublin ireland where reality meets irish myths of fairies, pixies, dwarfs, and trolls oh my! it’s in the young adult section and appeals to my childhood fantasies. a fun read. except that last one. it was pretty tragic.

    • Hi Vera! I love Thomas King! Have not read the Artemis Fowl series. I have heard great things abut it.I will take a look. There is another splendid, brief, young adult series, “The Dark Is Rising,” – set in rural England.

  2. The Dark is Rising is one of my favourite books – young adult I know – but at 75, perhaps i”m in my second childhood. I particularly love the second book of the four, when the Old Ones are coming out of the ancient village church, and wiithstand a tremendous psychic attack, holding hands in a semi-circle… and I love the picture of Christmas in the snow… takes me back to the England of my childhood that seems to have slipped away…I often re=read the whole series…..

    • Valarie, thank you for writing! I also lived in England as a child – rural Lincolnshire. I often wonder whether that is part of the appeal of the series. I’m discovering a great shift in my life in my mid-sixties. Not sure how or what it is, but it seems fulfilling and engaging and freeing.

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