Float like a Butterfly

Over these last few weeks I’ve marvelled at how many butterflies have been around. They flit about the garden like wayward petals. Caper Whites are common here. They tend to tango intensely. (You’ve surely seen them spin together.) While this Common Crow just hovers dreamily … floats along till it finds another resting place.

           Some, like the Blue Triangle, are hectic fliers and hard to capture on camera.

        The other day, as I waited in the queue at the garden centre, this Meadow Argus sat                      here so long I began to wonder if it was real. What a beauty!

        Out walking in the park just before sunset, this ‘odd leaf’ caught my eye. I’ve since                     learned it’s an Evening Brown butterfly that prefers to be out at dusk. 

          When I showed a friend my butterfly photos thus far, she sent this one of a Lemon              Migrant in her backyard. They’re found all over Tropical Australia and known for                  their regular large migrations down the east coast. In February this year there was a                                            butterfly boom after the drought.

             I’ve discovered too that North American Monarchs arrived here later than other                  butterflies, in the 1870’s. Some migrate to warmer areas before winter while many                adults stay. Great clusters of them festoon the same trees each year, till the                                                       weather warms up in September.

         I’ve long thought that a visiting butterfly was a spirit on its way to the next world.              The Ancient Egyptians thought so.They also believed caterpillars died (in the chrysalis)                                              and were reborn as butterflies. 

Egypt, Middle Kingdom – Butterfly Amulet . The Met Museum Copyright free.

There’s an old Irish story which Kevin Crossley-Holland reworked and called “Butterfly Soul.” It goes something like this –

Two farm boys, Tom and Declan have been out in the hills all morning, searching for missing sheep. They give up in the heat of the day and stretch out in the shade of a rock wall. Declan falls asleep while Tom sits, watching the valley and farm below. Declan’s snores get Tom to his feet and just as he bends to shake him awake, a pale butterfly flits out of Declan’s mouth.

Tom stands rooted to the spot, while the butterfly floats down the sleeper’s left side and off down the slope. Curious, the lad follows. He watches it approach the gate, drift upwards past each wooden spar and down the other side.

On it goes, down the track. Tom runs down and climbs the gate. When he lands on the other side, there’s suddenly no sign of the butterfly. Looking around, he notices the long grass by the track. He wades in and swishes through. Yes! He spies it down in the ditch, hovering over a the white skull of a ram. There it lands and teeters the horns.

Tom scrambles closer to get a better look and sees the butterfly fly in one eye socket. Feet in the ditch Tom sits. A couple of crows fly past, cawing. A breeze shakes the grass heads. After a while, he’s rewarded. That same butterfly clambers out of the other empty hole. Flying faster than before, the insect quickly gains height and catching the wind heads  back uphill, over the gate and towards the wall.

By the time Tom gets back up the hill, his friend is sitting up, stretching his arms and grins when he sees Tom, “Had an amazing dream!” 

“So,,,  what did you dream, Declan? ” replies Tom, scraping one foot on a stone.

“I was all by myself and walked for a long, long way hunting for you, Tom,  I came upon a railway track. So I jumped along fast from one sleeper to the next.  I didn’t know where the line was heading. I kept looking for a place I knew.

At the end of the line, I came to a tall, waving forest where a strong wind bent the trees this way and that. Suddenly, the wind lifted me up and I was blown along a river shining below me. I was flying straight on, the cold wind in my face.

There, on the banks of the shining river was a big, white palace. I flew down to it. It’s big round entrance was without a door, so I stepped inside. There was not a soul around, only the wind roaring through. I moved on through the place and wandered marble halls, one after another. They were all bare. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before! 

Then I began to think I was being watched, so I got out of there as quickly as I could and got away,  back along the shining river, through the forest, along the the rail line. Then I woke up”

“The dream was wonderful. I felt so good. I saw so much. Everything glowed bright and big. And I was flying!”

“Ah… ” mused Tom. “You felt you were flying, eh? Well, you should have seen what I saw. I saw. I saw a butterfly fly out of your mouth.”

Declan’s jaw dropped, as he stared hard at his friend.

“And … I followed that butterfly as it  flew away from you. I watched where it went. Come on, I’ll show you!” pulling Declan to his feet. “This way!”

Tom showed him the bars of the gate, the tall forest of grass, the shining river that was the running ditch and then he pointed at the skull of a long dead sheep.

Declan got up close to it and began to mutter “Holy … Dooley! Oh my…! again and again. Slowly, the two them climbed of the ditch and back up on the track.  

“So Declan, ” Tom declared, looking him in the eye. “You might have seen wonders … but what I saw was an even bigger wonder! Do you think anyone will believe us?”

Butterfly You © M.Philp. Adapted from K. Crossley-Holland’s tale “Butterfly Soul’

PS. I’m can’t help chasing butterfies –

Sources
CARR, Richard Vaughan. illus. Ann James. The Butterfly: from tiny wingbeat to a tornado. Newtown, NSW, Walker Books Australia. 1996. 

‘The Butterfly Soul’ in CROSSLEY-HOLLAND, Kevin. (1987) British Folk Tales; New versions. Cambridge, C.U.P.

Queensland Museum. Garden butterflies

Thanks to local Butterfly Expert Helen Schwenke for help with identification

Recent articles in local papers

Lemon Migrant butterfly migration underway

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All text and photos in this blog created by Meg

(Unless labelled otherwise)

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp. Copyright © under Australian Law.

Tobermory: Lens Artists Challenge #65 – Pick a Place and Catch its Spirit

The British Fisheries Society established Tobermory as a fishing port on the island of Mull, Scotland in 1788. The cliffs around its natural harbour were scoured back to make room for a road and houses along to a deep water pier.

High tide October 2016 ©MegPhilp

Tobermory comes from the Gaelic “Tobar Mhoire” meaning ‘Mary’s Well.’ One dedicated to St Mary is located at the top end of the cliff. When I got there in 2016 the well had been long capped. The tap didn’t work so I couldn’t try the waters’ healing power.

No matter what, water rushes down from the cliff tops towards the sea. Everywhere you walk you can hear, and find, running, clear water. They make whisky in Tobermory.

When the nearby Strathearn Waterworks were completed in 1883, this Cherub Fountain was presented to the Burgh of Tobermory by Robert Strathearn. It no longer spouts water but there’s still a basin at the foot for thirsty canines.

The An Tobar Art Centre, once a primary school, is now a collective, community-run gallery (since 1998). This statue high up on the cafe wall caught my eye. I’d hazard a guess that this is St Mungo, Patron Saint and Founder of the city of Glasgow. There’s the bell from the legend, though the bird on his shoulder is too big to be the robin.

Addendum – This statue depicts St Columba, who founded the first Christian monastery on the nearby island of Iona in 563AD . The piece was made in 2007 by sculptor/mechanic Eduard Bersudsky of the Sharmanka Theatre group, who are based in Glasgow. Made of oak from the island, it’s an automated sculpture, with the small shoulder-perched bird ringing the bell on cue. [Thanks to Ester Morrison (Front of House Manager) who answered my emailed query.]

Is this St Mungo?©2016MegPhilp

And you can’t go past a local hero – The Tobermory Cat. A picture book about him by Debi Gliori was published in 2012. Here’s a second generation cat who carries on the tradition and patrols the main street and houses in town.

We came upon this little West Highland Terrier in a corner one of the craft shops. The woman behind the counter said she was keeping an watchful eye on him. Her neighbour had recently passed away and this had been his dog.

What kind folk there are in the world!

There’s only a few fishing boats in the harbour these days but its still a peaceful haven for locals, visitors and furry friends.

OOOOOOOOOOO

All text and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp Copyright © under Australian Law.

Linked to Tina’s Lens Artists Challenge #65

More Sources at

Balamory children’s TV program. https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Balamory. Downloaded 5 October 2019.

St Columba. https://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofScotland/St-Columba-the-Isle-of-Iona/. Downloaded 21 October 2019.

The Tobermory Cat https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8gLztkXwbc. Downloaded 5 October 2019

Remember That Coat

 

That coat was the colour of the sea on a sunny day, all green-blue with sand and seaweed tossed together … or was it darker … the colour I saw from the old bridge at Lossiemouth beach.

 

I loved the colour of it. I don’t know who had worn it before me. In our small family, children’s clothes were passed on to cousins. I was surprised when my mother produced it one day and made me put it on. Here was a ‘good’ coat. It was so heavy it flapped when I walked or walloped my legs if I ran. The label inside proclaimed ‘Harris Tweed.’ On the outside were brown, shiny leather buttons, a pocket each side with a silky soft, slippery lining and a staunch belt with a buckle I found hard to handle. The fabric felt the same as my dad’s good jacket, but his was mostly grey, with purple-pink bits when you looked really closely.

Dad explained how the cloth was woven on a loom and then dyed with all sorts of things, but mostly plants. Peering at my sleeve, I fingered the threads looking for a pattern. Sunday School was the perfect place to study the weaving, scratch at the different colours, pull off straggly fine hairs and fluff, all while humming softly. How were those buttons made? I wobbled one so much it had to be sewn back on again, tightly, while I stood watching.

The collar against my neck made me itchy so I had to put one of my Mum’s headscarves between coat and skin. Looking back, I think wearing that coat marked the beginning of my fashion sense, something that I did not share with my mother.

It all came out when we were getting ready to go to a summer wedding in town. Billy McTavish, who used to dandle me on his knee as a toddler, was getting married to a big girl I’d only met once. I adored this tall, young man and had been hoping he’d wait for me to grow up but here, now, he wasn’t.

My summer dress I liked. It was soft, white cotton scattered with little purple roses. It had two pockets. My white, hand-knitted cardigan had been taken out from under the carpet, peeled from its paper wrapping and held up beautifully pressed. This year’s Clark’s sandals had been freshly whitened. My white ankle socks were new.

I baulked as my mother approached bearing that tweed coat. I cried, which was as much of a tantrum I could ever muster then. I got worse when Mum got our straw hats down from the top of the wardrobe. How to explain what I felt? How could I explain why a straw hat does not go with a tweed coat? My younger sister was always more outspoken than I and surprised me some weeks later with retorts like “I’m not wearing that!” even on school days.

 

I cried more … unlucky before a wedding. My mother bargained. If I wore the coat I could carry the white basket (shaped like a flower pot with two life-like cherries on the side) that my aunty gave me when she came back from her big holiday. My sister beamed at this news. She’d get hers if I got mine! These two treasures had been locked in the china cabinet since the day Aunty went home, ages ago.

With my coat on, my precious basket was placed into my hands. My straw hat was straightened again. It looked like a flying saucer after an unsuccessful landing and was held in place by elastic which always left a red mark under my chin. There is a B&W photo somewhere in one of our family albums to prove all this. There we stood before the ceremony, holding the pose on the steps outside the kirk. Despite the basket,  you could tell how I was feeling by the look on my face, under that hat, in that coat.

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That Coat – Text, Drawings and photo from Lossiemouth Bridge by Meg Philp©2019

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp Copyright © under Australian Law.

The Very Dab

(‘The Very Dab’ is a Scots’ expression which in my experience has meant ‘the perfect finishing touch.’)

Way back at the beginning of our world, they do say that God had a walk around when he had finished and was well pleased with what he saw. The sun was shining. The rivers were flowing. Tall trees and lush plants waved in the cool breeze.

He stopped to watch some birds drink nectar from blossoms. He smiled at the antics of more of them, as they fluttered in the river shallows, flapping, dipping and drinking.

It struck Him then that the birds were hard to see clearly. They were different sizes but they all came in various shades of browns, perhaps with shadowy grey or white underneath. They all had the same short, straight beak, too. Now that wouldn’t do. He’d gone to a lot of trouble to make each animal unique. Surely the birds needed the same.

He asked Gabriel to summon every type of bird from around the world and have them gather at dawn on a certain day on top of the highest hill in Canberra. He had a plan to make them all look different and marvellous.

On the appointed day, Gabriel had his list ready. The raucous Australian contingent was there first but soon settled and made room for birds from all over the world. Gabriel ticked off thousands of arrivals. When a Cockatiel suddenly made off with the paper list and ripped it to shreds, Gabriel decided that surely every bird had arrived and went to tell God “All here.”

He came up the hill laden with a bulging sack and a satchel full of paintboxes and brushes. His paints were of the self-perpetuating kind – they’d never fade or wear off and their hues would be passed on through the generations.

God opened his arms in welcome  and told the birds they could all choose their own colours as well as a new beak to suit their needs. The birds got so excited many launched into the air. Those still on the ground formed an orderly queue behind a lorikeet that had been dozing in front but soon woke up and squawked. “I want green, red, yellow … a blue head and collar and a red curved beak.”

God painted it all the colours of the rainbow. Next a large cockatoo ambled up and screeched, “Black, black, black and a big black beak shaped like a crab’s claw on top. I’ve got nuts to crack and sticks to beat, “ stammered the parrot as two scarlet cheeks promptly appeared.

One sweet little bird wanted “A long pointed black beak and a mask to match. Oh … and lots of turquoise and a sunny, golden chest.”. As God searched in his sack, He suddenly pulled out an enormous, saggy beak.

“Oh my, here’s a mistake! I can’t think of a bird who’d be able to use this.” From the back of the crowd came a cackle, “I can! Make it pink and it’s mine!”

God signalled for the big bird to come forward and all watched in awe as the great pink bill was hooked on and then layers of plumage splashed white, then black. The gathering stared silently as the cumbersome bird bowed its head and then turned to lope towards the crest of the hill. The crowd held its breath, then cheered loudly when it took off majestically.

The black beak and mask for the Bee-eater was much easier to fix.

The peacock made very particular requests. “Please could my colours be jewelled greens and blues, with shades of topaz and amethyst in radiating patterns in my tail, just so.” The Painter miraculously made this bird’s wishes come true in a flash.

Can you imagine your favourite bird asking for what they wanted?

As the sun began to sink towards the horizon, there were very few birds left. there was just a little paint and God told them they could help themselves. The Fairy Wren dashed into the blue and came out looking superb, while the Galah frolicked in the white, red and black and came out pink and grey. When the last of the flock had gone, God and Gabriel packed up and walked down to the creek to wash up.

“That’s improved the birds, no end,” said Gabriel. God nodded and sighed.

As they stood looking at the sunset, they heard a thrashing in the bushes nearby. A bird flapped wildly through and called from a close branch.

“Oh no! Oh no! Am I too late? Nobody told me this was happening. I don’t see other birds very often and the painted woodpecker gave me such a fright! “

“Oh, hello,” said God, looking round for his paints.

“This little shy one only sings at night. “ Gabriel looked up, worried, as he searched through paintboxes.

“I’m sorry. It looks like there’s no paint left,” replied the angel as he turned to look more closely at the little brown bird as it hung its head.

In the growing dark, God told the Nightingale to come closer and held up his pointing finger. The bird fluttered over and landed there.

“Don’t despair, little one. I have found just enough on this brush. Now, open your beak for me.” When the bird did so, God put the last dab of gold on its tongue.

The sharp taste startled the Nightingale. It flew off into the bushes. It was hard to make out where it had gone. Suddenly, the most glorious birdsong floated up into the night air. No-one in the world had ever heard anything like it before.

“Ah,” said God. “That worked. Nightingale is happy now.” He and Gabriel stood to listen for a while and then went home.

So … they do say that is how the Nightingale came to sing so gloriously. When people hear one singing in the distance they stop, wherever they are and listen. They forget what they’re in the middle of but remember, ever afterwards, how that Nightingale’s song made them feel.

©MegPhilp2019

‘The Very Dab’ adapted by Meg Philp from “The Nightingale” by Richard Adams in The Iron Wolf and other stories. London, Penguin, 1980 pp. 111-115.

Notes:

The word “Canberra” is popularly claimed to derive from the word Kambera or Canberry, which is claimed to mean “meeting place” in Ngunnawal, one of the Indigenous languages spoken in the district by Aboriginal Australians before European settlers arrived, although there is no clear evidence to support this. ( Source – Wikiwand)

Birds in story order

Cockatiel

Rainbow Lorikeet

Palm Cockatoo

Rainbow Bee-Eater

Pelican

Superb Fairy Wren

Galah

Nightingale

There are more marvellous photos of all of these birds on the www.

All text and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp Copyright © under Australian Law.

 

 

Less is More: Lens-Artist Photo Challenge #43

This post is a response to Amy’s Lens-Artist challenge. Trees are one of my favourite things and I’ve been wondering about this one.

Trees catch my eye. Not sure what type of eucalyptus this is or how tall is is. Searched online and found out there are over 800 different species. Stopped there.

We had it bone-dry over last summer. This tree trunk had a smooth, pearlised sheen then. It felt shiny.  Curious about the bark … I decided to focus on the same patch over time to see what happens.

Are those dark spots the beginning of new bark?

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A shower of rain makes all the difference. It seems to me that all the colours the tree needs for leaves, blossoms and fruits are here in the trunk, ready.

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I did find out that the best way to identify a Eucalyptus is by its bark!

A friend In NZ told me of a novel* he’d read about a man who had many different types of gum trees on his property. When any young man came courting his daughter and asked his permission to marry her … the man would reply “When you can identify every Eucalyptus on the place, you may marry my daughter. “

Well, why not? If Psyche in the Greek myth had to go through all those trials to be united with Eros … sounds fair enough. I wonder if one succeeded in identifying each tree?

The trunk began to feel more uneven. Is it due to lack of water?

Weather is still very dry.

Now the weather’s a bit cooler and we have had above average rain in March, the texture and colour are changing again.

Here’s what the foot of the tree looked like.

Focusing on just one patch of trunk has been fascinating. But what I’ve learned doing this challenge is to not let myself be overwhelmed by the top or crown … just to remember to to start at the foot!

I’ve confirmed this is a Sydney Blue Gum. I’ve listed two sources. The fact that the bark sheds in strips, yet has ‘its stocking of dark persistent bark at the base’ clinched it.

All text except quote and photos by Meg.

PS. That novel about identifying Eucalypts*. A friend who read this post is lending me her copy of Eucalyptus by Murray Bail (1998) Winner of the Miles Franklin Award 1999.

Sources

Australian National Botanic Garden, Growing Native Plants, 2012. Isabel Zeil-Rolfe. Eucalyptus Saligna: Sydney Blue Gum. 2016, Australian Government, Canberra. Viewed 30 April, 2019. https://www.anbg.gov.au/gnp/trainees-2016/eucalyptus-saligna.html

YOUNG, P.A.R. (1991) Rainforest Guide. Brisbane, Brisbane Forest Park Administration Authority, p38.

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is Copyright © under Australian Law.

Six Ways to help Listeners ‘twig’ to your Telling.

Storytellers work at many levels

1. Be clear on the setting of the tale. (Map out the story, search images or info online.)

2. See the action in your imagination. Dwell on your favourite scene – the one that hooked you in the first place. Can you make it more alive?

3. Clear up any details or facts in the plot you’re not sure of.

4. Include listeners in the story. Ask them a question or wonder aloud yourself. Make them curious about the outcome.

5. Add fun where possible. This is entertainment!

6. Feel the emotions as they occur, as the story carries you along.

……………………………

Remember that a story told is a give-away, a gift that you hope is passed on.

See if you can find the ways I’ve tried to do this in a story I’m learning to tell.

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Here’s my written version of an Xmas story I’ve adapted from a 1992 adaption of The Mice and the Christmas Tree by Pat Thomson in A Stocking Full of Christmas Stories, which is a 1956 adaption of the story in the collection Little Old Mrs Pepperpot, which Alf Proysen expanded on from his carol Musevisa (Mouse Song) he composed in 1946. He was one of  Norway’s most famous writers, poets and playwrights. The song has since become part of their Jul tradition.

The Christmas Tree Mice. Adapted by M.Philp 2018

Long ago and far away, in a village in the heart of Norway, lived a family of house mice. There was Ma, Pa, Grandma Mouse and seven mousekins, all snug in their home in the pantry wall of an old red house. Each winter the mice celebrated Yuletide just like people did. They got their home ready for Christmas Eve, swept the dust out using their tails, put out good food, got dressed in their best, gave presents and sang around the tree.

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At a nod from Ma, Pa Mouse would roll in an old pine-cone and decorate it with cobwebs. The mouse-children then lined up in order beside their tree and Ma presented each of them with a nut. Then, as a special treat, she went down the line, holding a piece of dark chocolate under each nose, so they each had a good long sniff at heaven.

Next, the mice all caught hold of each other’s tail and circled their tree, dancing and singing all the songs they knew. After that, they played Blind Man’s Bluff until ‘Lights out’ and time for bed.

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But one year, the youngest child squeaked into the dark “No! No! We don’t’ want to go!”

“Don’t be silly,” replied both parents. “We’ve all had our Good Jul. Now off you go to sleep, the lot of you!”

The eldest child refused and explained that they all wanted to dance around that really big tree in the front room of the house. Only yesterday he’d seen it through a crack in the skirting board and had told the others how beautiful it looked.

Ma Mouse choked and coughed. She reminded them how dangerous it was to go into those giant rooms.

“Not … if they’re all fast asleep!” stressed the littlest mouse, looking at Pa with shining eyes.

“Oh well, … it is Christmas,” declared Pa looking at  Ma. “Follow me, children!” Off they set. Ma brought up the rear, calling “Mind you go carefully and very quietly.” Grandma decided to stay behind and finish knitting her scarf.

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One after the other they quickly crept along, inside the walls of the house till they emerged from the crack in the skirting board. There was the tree reaching to the rafters. “Ooh … aah” they sighed. “Oh, it’s lovely … and so tall! ”

“That’s a Norwegian Spruce for you!” announced Pa. The mischief of mice then skittered by the wall till they sat beneath the wondrous tree. The littlest mouse whimpered to the eldest “But … where are the stars you saw? You said there were lots of sparkling stars all over.”

Meanwhile, Ma Mouse had arrived at last at the opening but couldn’t get through because of her big tummy. She was breathless and grabbed a cord to steady herself. Suddenly, the tree lit up with twinkling stars.

The rest of the family crept around the tree admiring those magic lights, the tinsel; the strings of flags. They even clambered among the pile of boxes underneath. I don’t know who it was found the truck first, but soon all the children were in the back and Pa was in the cab. Imagine their squeals of delight when it started to move and Pa drove them across the room to Ma who pleaded “Children. Not so much noise! Someone will hear!”

They all waved to Ma as the truck went past and then squealed at it veered towards the door, which suddenly clicked open. Each mousekin jumped and clung to their neighbour. As the truck swerved away, a fat brown cat walked in, carrying its tail high.

Pa drove straight back behind the tree. When they came round the other side, there sat the cat on the mat. Pa turned the wheel hard round and drove faster. The wheel stuck there!  Each time the truck came round the tree, the cat made swipes with his paw as it zoomed past. The mice froze with fear in the back.

Oh no! The truck began to slow down! Pa drove in among the boxes. As soon as it came to a stop, he yelled “Everybody out! Up the tree!” Little grey bodies scampered up the trunk and hung on to the highest branches for dear life.

Cat Below pulled at the mat with her claws and squinted up. “Come on down,”she sighed impatiently. “Tonight is not the time for catching.”

“Oh no, we won’t!” shouted the eldest mouse, clinging to a star. “You’ll pounce on us and torment us. We know what cats do.”

“Not tonight!” sighed the cat, looking at her clean claws and then up at these new ornaments. “Christmas Eve is the only time I’m kind to mice!”

The mice froze again as she slowly stretched and got up, walked to the door and called back, “Better watch out … if I see you tomorrow … !” The mice held their breath. Then the door closed and she was gone.

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When the family were safely back in their little home, Ma Mouse made all the children promise not to go up to the big house again, to always do as they were told and never to give cheek to the cat. They promised, with their front paws crossed behind their back.

Then one by one, each mousekin took from their pocket, some little strips of tinsel, or a Norwegian flag, wisps of wool, snippets of ribbon and thin silver stars. These they proudly hung on their own cone tree.

And so it was from that night on and ever after, the mice had a fine Yule tree and a  happy story to tell their own children every Merry Christmas.

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[Dedicated to LC, my Lucky Cat]

All text and photos by Meg. Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp Copyright © under Australian Law.

Sources

‘The Mice & the Christmas Tree’ by Alf Proysen (adapted) in A Stocking Full of Christmas Stories collected by Pat Thomson. London, Transworld, 1993. pp109 -118.

[Pat Thomson has written over 50 books, great to read aloud. Look out for them in libraries]

Mice Word list

I learned a lot about mice here! A collection of mice can be a trip, horde or a mischief!

Alf Proysen: Norwegian poet, playwright, musician, author & songwriter

Mrs Pepperpot stories

Christmas in Norway (includes choir singing Proysen’s song (Musevisa)

PS. Spot the mistake in one of the photos. Happy Days!

In Perigord : Lens-Artist Photo Challenge: #13 Look Up.

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Travelling through Perigord / Dordogne a couple of years back,  I loved the wide-open countryside.  There were lots of quaint buildings in walled, medieval towns with few people around.

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Wild thyme grew in the walls.

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 There were careful renovations.

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A glowing stone memorial in a small park in  the town of Sarlat stopped me in my tracks.IMG_4438

Now here’s the thing. Just the other day, I happened upon a French movie on TV here at home.  I’d caught the word “Sarlat ” in passing and so sat down to watch.

That 2012 film, ‘Ici-bas’ or ‘Here Below,’ was set in Perigord in 1944 and directed by Jean-Pierre Denis. He said it was a fictional portrayal of actual events which culminated in the militia and German soldiers besieging a group of Resistance on 16 February 1944. Thirty-four Resistance fighters were executed. Then, on 27 February 1944, using Radio Paris, propagandist / spokesman for the Vichy government in exile, Philippe Henriot denounced the “Communists” who had “killed the saint.”

I looked up more info about WW 2 in the Sarlat district and found this from a local contributor, in Trip Advisor  (I’ve edited grammar.)

… In Sarlat, a plaque on the wall on Boulevard Nessman tells of Victor Nessman, a doctor and Resistance leader, who was arrested in his surgery and taken to Limoges to be tortured to death. This was the same Victor Nessman who had worked with Albert Schweitzer in the leper colonies of the Congo. The village of Rouffignac, now a drab village just north west of Sarlat, was razed to the ground by Nazis as a reprisal. The only clue there is the war memorial which lists five deaths yet gives no details about the events of 31 March 1944. The world’s biggest ever bullion and cash heist was effected by the Resistance in St. Astier, just outside Perigueux. The money, which was en route to the Germans in Bordeux , simply disappeared …

There were concentration camps in the area too, holding mainly Jewish French before onward shipment to the eastern death camps in Austria and Poland.

Little of all this exists in tourist museums. It needs to be researched from little clues dotted about the countryside. It seems that the jury is still out on the Resistance as to whether they were truly heroes or simply renegades who would jeopardise the lives of innocent villagers, as in Oradour sur Glane….

Sarlat Resistance 1944

They added that “It all sounds a bit morbid, but it has a compulsive fascination for most of us, as it all happened in our fathers’ lifetime.”

What terrible times.

 I wish I’d read some of that history before I visited Sarlat-la-Caneda.

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I think walls bear witness and hold memories of the past.

‘Lest we forget’ as Life moves on.

Sources

“Here Below”  Wikipedia. https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ici-bas. Downloaded 2 October 2018.

“Phillipe Henriot” Wikiwand. https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Philippe_Henriot. Downloaded 2 October 2018.

“World War 1 and World War 2 sites around the Dorgdogne.” Comment by Salandaise1 in Trip Advisor.

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All photos and text (apart from quotes) by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp Copyright © under Australian Law.

Finding Your Treasure

Searching for stories that appeal and that I’d want to tell is like hunting for treasure. Lately, I’ve been searching for stories and images about treasure.

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I’ve had loan of a carefully wrapped 1919 collection of Hindu tales that Anne’s mother used to read aloud to her sister and she. They would talk about every story afterwards.

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This one is about a Brahmin, a much- revered holy beggar, who hoards the money and jewels he is given and then, to keep it safe, buries it all in the forest. When he discovers it’s been stolen, he announces he will starve himself to death, unless his treasure is returned! His treasure is returned when the king of that district cleverly finds the thief, whom he then pardons but whom the Brahmin will not. The story sets up the need to talk about it more by ending thus –

Every one who has read this wonderful story would, of course, want to know what became of him after that, but nothing more is told about him.

Stories need to be talked through, mulled over, repeated and given to someone else.

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Many a good story is shared over a cuppa. What a pot! There is a story there.

As I was walking a treasure to school on Wednesday, she talked about how, as part of Book Week celebrations,  a teacher had come dressed as a pirate. “She had lots of gold in a box, “she said. “Of course, it wasn’t real,” she added, sounding a bit disappointed.

Remember being excited as a kid by the notion of a treat kept in a special place you weren’t allowed to go?

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I used to be impressed by these cars … never drove one!

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A ‘Leaper’ bonnet mascot from an older Jaguar car.

A 13th century poet, Rumi, told of a poor man of Baghdad who had the same dream on several nights, telling him to go to Cairo where he would find treasure in a certain quarter, at a certain spot. He followed that dream, made the long journey, only to be captured by the night patrol while begging for food. He confessed to his captor why he had come to Cairo, who then admitted he’d had ignored a similar dream. His dream had told of treasure buried in Baghdad, in a certain street, in a particular house yard. As he listened, the captive realised it was in  his garden! As soon as he was set free, the poor man hurried home to find his treasure. What did he find?

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Plovers’ eggs which did eventually hatch, grow and fly the nest in a local park.

There’s a more recent (2007) Palestinian version of that ancient story called The Farmer Who Followed His Dream in a children’s collection by Sonia Nimr.   (I included this map of it in my last post.)

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It was when I told my version of the story again to a live, adult audience that the ending changed. A stranger came up and said how much they liked it. A regular  grinned and whispered across to me as I sat down, “Vintage Meg!”

The meaning made hangs on the storyteller’s intonation.

Without changing the final words,  I’d said them differently, for I was feeling and seeing what his treasure truly was when he reached home – family and children.

Treasure, for me, is the same  … and includes my extended family – the dear people I have as friends.

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A new grandson for a longtime friend.

References:

In Cairo Dreaming of  Baghdad, In Baghdad Dreaming of Cairo in Delicious Laughter: Rambunctious Teaching Stories from the Mathnawi of Jelaluddin Rumi. Versions by Coleman Barks. Athens, Georgia. Maypop Books, 1990.

A Royal Thief-Catcher in MITRA, S.M. (trans) Hindu Tales from the Sanskrit. Adapted by Mrs Arthur Bell. London Macmillan, 1919. pp 30 – 45.

The Farmer Who Followed his Dream in NIMR, Sonia. Ghadder the Ghoul and Other Palestinian Stories. London, Francis Lincoln, 2007. pp23 – 27.

All text and photos (except last one) by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is Copyright © under Australian Law.

 

 

 

 

Story Maps and Spirals: Retelling

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During my last storytelling session at a local school, teachers were keen for me to show the students the maps I draw to help me retell a story.

These are working documents. The first map is for a Palestinian story. Like many folk tales, the protagonist leaves home on a quest. They solve their problem and return home with new understanding, having learned from their experience.

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In more complicated stories, I find drawing spiral maps helpful. This story map is about the break-up of a friendship,

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In retelling, I need the routine to make a stable base for the story. Tone of voice is crucial to set the mood for a good story and for the suspense that will come. When we’re introduced to a character and nothing out of the ordinary happens, then they’re stuck in a same old routine – not much of a story.

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Jack Maguire in his book ‘Creative Storytelling’ said it this way .

“Another fundamental of a good children’s story is that the plot revolves around an element of tension.” (1985:51)

A good story spirals into action, moving from ‘The Way it Was’ to ‘The Way it is Now’

Life can go up or down in half a second. Often a trigger / jolt / problem shifts characters out of their ordinary ways. Then more problems and possibilities arise.

Characters’ actions and speech build the tension either up to a better, satisfactory, resolution or down to an unhappy, unsatisfying one.

The ending must pull everything together.

Sometimes a story spiralling upward is funny. Moving this spiral clearly shows how the teller has been ‘winding up’ the audience, especially when kids don’t get the punch line of the joke, at first. ‘Shaggy Dog’ stories are a classic of this type.

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Source of quote

Jack Maguire. 1985 Creative Storytelling: choosing, inventing and sharing tales for children. New York, McGraw-Hill.

All text (except quote) and photos by Meg

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is  Copyright © under Australian Law.

Hydrangea: Cee’s Flower of the Day

A  friend’s woodland garden in NZ has lots of different types of hydrangeas.

Where did they originate? Here’s a potted history.

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Blue lace-cap variety

Of the 75 species in the genus, most hydrangeas grow naturally in Asian countries like Japan, China, Korea, while there are several species native to the US.

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A mop-cap variety

In 1730, North American farmer and plant hunter, John Bartram sent hydrangeas to Europe. He, and his son William, later discovered an oak-leaved native species (Hydrangea Quercifolia) in Georgia.

(Not sure about this one)

Back in the 1690’s, Engelbert Kaempfer a German physician and explorer worked for the Dutch East India company in Japan and had discovered mop-head and lace-cap hydrangeas there. Japan, at that time, was closed to trade with the outside world … so it was more than 150 years later that an English botanist Charles Maries was able to take samples of Hydrangea Macrophylla and Hydrangea Serrate to Europe.

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Many modern varieties have been bred and propagated for their gorgeous colours and size.

Sources of info.

Plants of Japan in Illustrated Books and Prints To be Featured in the LuEsther T. Mertz Library At The New York Botanical Garden October 20, 2007–January 13, 2008

Glyn Church, Hydrangea expert interviewed by BUCKWELL, Carol, “Hello Again, Hydrangeas” in New Zealand Gardener, Auckland, Nov 2017.

See Also

CHURCH, Glyn. Hydrangeas. 2001.

Story Twigs the Imagination! by Meg Philp is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License and also Copyright © under Australian Law.