All-Time Favourites:

My friend Naomi takes great photos.

 She got me blogging and suggested I join the weekly Photo Challenge. This opened up a whole new way of joining in online, looking at stories.

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My most popular shot for “Transitions” was such a sneaky one.

Thank you all for the journey thus far. You’ve been great company.

Time to catch the next storytelling train and keep on the Story Twigs Imagination Line!

All-Time Favorites     Text and photos by Meg, except the first shot.

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

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A Japanese Twist

This week’s Photo Challenge Twisted didn’t mean much till I found this photo I’d taken in my local Sushi Bar ( I did move the figurine, just a tad.)

The women’s twisted hair and that knotted Obi sparked a rewrite of a traditional folktale I’ve been working on –

Long, long ago in Old Japan there was a young man who loved his old father dearly. Not long after his son’s wedding, the old man died and the young man withdrew into his work as he grieved for his father.

Early one morning, he brought his wife in to show the piles of baskets he had made and said he must go to the  market. She helped him stack them on his back and waved him off on his walk to the nearest town. She felt pleased to see him at last like his old self again. Such fine, strong weaving attracted many buyers so he sold out quickly. and made a good profit. Before returning home, the shy young man had time to wander the stalls.

An array of silver objects caught the light. He had never seen anything like these before. The Gaijin vendor signalled they were delicate and would break if dropped. He nodded as the young man gingerly picked up the nearest. One glance and he was amazed … for there was his father looking at him.

“Oh father!” he muttered, lifting his eyes to the sky, “What are you doing here in the town?” No voice spoke from the clouds.Was this some kind of magic? Looking around him, he wondered why his father had come back to see him.  He quickly bought one, tucked it safely in his belt and anxiously hurried home.

As soon as he got there, he placed his precious object in their family shrine and said nothing of it to his wife. From that day on, he prayed fervently each dawn and dusk.

Naturally, his young wife noticed how much time he spent praying. One day, after her husband had gone off to gather more bamboo, she looked inside the shrine and gasped. There, she surprised a lovely young woman who looked back at her. She quickly closed the door … only to look again several times through the  day. The woman was always there.

As soon as her husband came home, she turned on him angrily. and pointed to the shrine “How dare you bring home another woman! You worship her! How could you do this to me?”

“What woman?” her husband stammered. “That is my dear departed father in there!” He rushed to to make sure. Yes … there was his father, looking worried. As he stepped back with a sigh of relief, his wife pushed past and grabbed the disc . One triumphant look and she handed it back saying “That is not your father … that is a jealous young woman!” Then she hurried away.

They argued till they were speechless and miserable. After a sleepless night, the young man suggested they talk to the wise nun who lived in the village temple.

One look at the pair and the nun ushered them in.  She listened with a kindly smile while the pair took turns to tell their part of the story. When tears had been shed and both were finally still, the nun stretched out a hand for the source of their troubles. After she studied its smooth surface, she exclaimed. “Goodness! This woman has repented and become a nun. It’s best that she remain here, for a time, in the temple.” Then she opened a wooden chest beside her, put in their mirror and closed the lid.

It did not take long for the news of the arrival of a wonderful mirror to go round the village. The young couple laughed together when they, in their turn, heard the story  from a friendly neighbour. How mistaken they had been! How foolsih! How marvellous!

Next morning, they found their furoshiki swathed mirror on the doorstep and agreed it should be hung by their door so anyone could look in it. The tale of the mirror spread to many districts. The young couple gained status as the first family in that village to own one and they were not the last … to see their truth …  in a mirror.

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Twisted

A Japanese Twist©2018Meg Philp

Adapted from ‘The Mirror’ by BANG, Garrett, Men from the Village Deep in the Mountains. New York, Macmillan, 1973: 67- 9.

Some of the sources consulted

Japanese Bamboo weaving 

Japanese Historical Timeline

Japanese Mirrors

Mirror (See History)

Sacred Mirror: Japanese Imperial Regalia

All text  and photos by Meg

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

 

 

May Day on Mt Cootha 2018

 

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Hurdy-Gurdy Player

“Form the lines and turn together, Hear the clash of the staff as we shout and sing. The tunes all sound to the Tattercoat’s flying, We call up the light as the day comes in.” (Lyrics by John Thompson)

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They had gathered in the dark, above the city, to dance with bells, sticks, swords and kerchiefs.

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The Bellswagger, North-West, Ragged Band, and Logan groups, among others, all wearing their different kits.

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We all sang along, clapped and stamped our feet.

The music rises with the first light’s gleaming,

The dawn will break and the bells will ring.

                               (from The Bellswagger Anthem by John Thompson)

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All in together for the last dance.

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… spiralling our way up to the Rotunda

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…then with one great shout the dance and songs have done it.

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We’ve celebrated the year with the dawn of the sun.

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(A great bunch of Morris folk after the final formal photo)

                          >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Lines – This week’s Photo Challenge

All text (except John Thompson’s lyrics) and photos by Meg

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

Love the Tree that Gives You Shelter

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Huge tree in Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, NZ.

While mulling over last Week’s Photo Challenge of a Favourite Place, I recalled an old Russian proverb tale “Every Man Loves the Tree that Gives Him Shelter.”

It celebrates regeneration symbolised by the oak tree that grew from the acorn planted by Great-Grandfather on the day his son was born. That child became a Grandfather at forty years old when Vanya’s Father was born and ninety-two when Vanya ( the latest in the family) was born. The old man keeps his grandson company under the tree, enjoying the shade while his parents work in the garden.

“I love my mother best in the whole wide world,” says the child. His grandfather nods, adding ‘Your mother is your shelter, Vanya’ …

Trees shelter and protect. They provide many other benefits.They change with the seasons, bud, flower, fruit and drop seeds. Most grow taller and have a longer lifespan than we humans.

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This Spanish Chestnut at Balmerino Abbey, Fife, was said to have been planted by Queen Ermingarde in 1229. Tests have revealed it’s only 400 – 435 yrs old

By the gate of the house I grew up in was a Rowan tree. The Scots’ superstition was that it kept any evil from your door.

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Old Rowan tree in Autumn, berry-laden, among the ruins of a cottage at the back of Tobermory, Mull.

If you’re fortunate when you were growing up, you had a family to protect you. On the TV news, the sight of a huddle of women, fleeing the bombardment in Ghouta stays with me. They were scurrying away together, shielding small children as well as carrying whatever they could – for the last woman it was a bright blue plastic bucket – in chaotic street full of gray rubble, guns and fear.  How will this civil war ever resolve so that the people can live in peace? How will they ever build homes again and plant their Olive trees?

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Cherry Tree in Spring, NZ

Standing under a flourishing tree lifts my spirits … the way a friend does when we hug … no matter where I am. One of my favourite places full of trees is on top of a nearby mountain ridge. In the quiet spaces within this soft, dappled forest are sculptures created by Graham Radcliffe.

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Created by Graham Radcliffe in his Phoenix Sculpture Gardens, Mount Glorious, Brisbane.

… The story continues …

When the child asks his grandad what the old man likes best, he replies “My tree,” He then fishes an acorn out of his pocket and gives it to the child saying “Plant that and when your mother’s no more and you’re an old dad like me, you’ll not want for shelter till the earth is your roof.”

NB. This is an old story and as a sign of its time has much gender bias. Everyman means every individual to me.

Many years ago I remember we had a speaker from a charity ‘Men of The Trees’ talk to my class of eleven year olds about tree conservation. The organisation has planted 26 billion trees internationally since it began in 1926

(Just found out in Wikiwand that the original English Branch of MOT has rebranded and is now the International Tree Foundation.)

T T T T T T T T T T T   T T T T T T T T T T T  T T T T T    T T T  T  TTTTTT TTTT TTTTTtttt

Sources

Balmerino Abbey. National Trust for Scotland. Accessed 29 March, 2018.

Everyman loves the tree that gives him shelter. in FARJEON, Eleanor. Eleanor Farjeon’s Book: Stories – Verses – Plays. Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1950:95.

Men of the Trees.

Top 22 Benefits of Trees. TreePeople. Beverley Hills, Cal. Accessed 29 March 2018.

See also http://www.treesisters.org. Their focus is on reforesting in the Tropics.

Favorite Place

All text and photos by Meg

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

Tell the Story Your Way

As a people watcher, I’d rather not take a direct photo. As a storyteller, I see a face in the crowd that makes me think “There’s the beautiful maiden from the Grimm’s “Three Feathers!”

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She’s the one who speaks up against the bullying brothers saying, “I’m not jumping through any hoops for the likes of you!” Then I store away her likeness in my imagination till the next time I tell that folk tale.

Photography is a more recent form of recording. Before that, people painted or sculpted faces to remember.

This likeness of Joseph McIver graces the entrance to Paisley Close (alley) in the Royal Mile, Edinburgh.

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On 24 November 1861, at this spot, the 250 year old tenement above the then East Bailie Fyffe’s Close, fell down into itself. Rescuers who searched the rubble found 35 dead and were ready to give up after two days. Imagine their surprise when they heard a Scots voice below them call out “Haul awa’, lads! Ah’m no deid yet!

The Town Council then took responsibility for the poor housing conditions in the Old Town.  They rebuilt and paid for this memorial to celebrate the new close, as well as the few survivors, like the lad who was pulled out hale and hearty. They did carve an English version of what he shouted, though.

“””””””””””””””””””””

All text and photos by Meg

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.

Story

Not So Far Out of the World

A couple of weeks ago I  had a saunter along Palm Beach, near the Gold Coast. Did a double take when I saw this on the way back.

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Out of This World

All text and photos by Meg. 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.

Spider and the Fly

Wandering the garden, pondering this week’s photo challenge “Beloved” … bee-loved? Loved, be … by?

Oh look! Here’s a spider with a pretty orange heart on its underside.

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Just hanging around, waiting … then … it all happened so quickly –

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Will you walk into my parlour? said the spider to the fly.

Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy,

The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,

And I’ve a many curious things to show when you are there.

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Oh no, no, said the little Fly, to ask me is in vain,

For who goes up your winding stair, can ne’er come down again.

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Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.

He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den,

Within his little parlour, but she ne’er came out again!

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And now dear little children, who may this story read,

To idle, silly flattering words, I pray you ne’er give heed.

Unto an evil counsellor, close heart and ear and eye,

And take a lesson from this tale, of the Spider and the Fly.  Mary Howitt (1829)

These are just some verses are from a fable / poem written almost 200 years ago and worth retelling yet. I hadn’t read the whole of it till now.

We know that to ‘close heart and ear and eye’ does not keep us safe any more.

Time to speak out against any such a ‘human’ perpetrator … ‘evil counsellor.’

After 5 years of work, including written records of over 3956 victims’ oral narratives from more than 8000 who came forward,  the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has released its Final Report: Recommendations. This downloadable document includes recommendations such as a National Framework for Child Safety across all organisations, as well as a national curriculum for Online Safety and much more … for all children.

Now’s the time for community action … so much more than The Spider and the Fly.

Beloved
Sources:

The Spider and The Fly.  Wikiwand. website. Accessed 6 Feb 2018.

Golden Orb Weaver Spider (Male 8cm) Queensland Museum website: Find out About : Spiders. Accessed 6 Feb 2018.

All text (except those in quotes in italics) and photos by Meg

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.

Silence for the Wonder-worker: Weekly Photo Challenge

What’s that in the Mandarin tree – so silent and stoic?

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After my online search … it’s the chrysalis of a Citrus Swallowtail Butterfly. 

Hanging from a silken girdle, a secret transformation is underway at this nymphal stage. Most of the larval cells have had to die before the adult structures (of the butterfly) can take shape. What survive from their breakdown into ‘caterpillar soup‘ are imaginal cells – one for each adult body part – all ready to carry on and complete the metamorphosis over time.

Will a male or female butterfly emerge? The female of the species has more colour.

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The main character in Hans Christian Andersen’s story “The Butterfly” is a male butterfly intent on finding a wife amongst the blossoming flowers. He dismisses one flower after another, ending up old and alone. It’s not a story I’d tell to kids because of the way females are portrayed. The main character is so conceited and superior. However, he does get his comeuppance – caught late in the summer by a human, he’s pinned to a board – ironically ending up as an object in a display case. (Surely people don’t do this in this day and age?)

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But back to another photo of the chrysalis. (I have no idea if this is a mite in the foreground.)  It can take from one – six months for the butterfly to finally emerge,  depending on the weather.

And to think one of the wonders of the natural world is happening in my backyard right now!

Silence

 

Sources: The Butterfly in Haugaard, Eric Christian. The Penguin Complete Fairy Tales and Stories of Hans Andersen. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, Penguin, 1974:782.

Identification thanks to – The Butterfly House, Coffs Harbour. Papilio Aegeus. Accessed 18 Jan 2018.

Jabr, Ferris, How Does a Caterpillar turn into a Butterfly? in Scientific American, August 10, 2012. Accessed 18 Jan 2018.

All text and photos by Meg.

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.

 

Photogenic Hulks: WPC Weathered

On the road along the coast to Fishnish on the Isle of Mull, my “Stop the car, please!” worked once again.

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This was no harbour, just some old fishing boats hauled up on the shore to make more of the view on a fine day.

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Weathered
All text and photos by Meg

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.

Mangoes: WPC Growth

In Queensland, luscious mangoes signal our summer holiday season over the New Year. So juicy and delectable, they are best eaten leaning over the kitchen sink!

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A few years ago, my neighbour’s Bowen Mango tree used to produce so many mangoes, she couldn’t give them away … so she had it lopped!

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Whenever I see a mango tree, I remember an Indonesian story retold by storyteller Helen East. My version goes something like this –

One still, summer’s night the moon shone full on a tall, dark mango tree. Cicadas suddenly ceased chirping  and listened. Disgruntled voices were drifting up from the tree’s roots  “After all,” they complained, ” we do all the work and get none of the attention or thanks!”

They muttered on about how hard it was deep down in the dark earth, holding the whole tree fast, while keeping water moving up to the trunk, the branches, those leaves and all that fruit.

“Look at that lazy trunk, just standing there!” they yelled, looking up.

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Hearing this the trunk yelled back “ Not, so! My job is constant strain. Holding all this tree together in wind and storms is much harder. If I break, we all die. You forget too that I carry all the food back and forth to all parts. I’ve also had limbs chopped off for firewood, bark stripped by foraging animals: the pain of it all.”

Then the trunk added “It’s those leaves just hanging there, dancing in the breeze. I wish that was all I had to do!”

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Surrounding branches swayed in disagreement. They thought differently.

“How little you know, “ whispered the leaves in chorus. “ All day long we convert energy from the sun sharing it with the whole tree. We’re up all night releasing air for the tree while it rests. We shelter you all from too much sun. Heavy rains often tear us down.You wouldn’t want to have our job. Look at the fruits, all they do is hang around, grow fat and glow with pride when they’re ripe. There’s the kind of job we’d like!” they sighed.

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The fruits held their tongue at first. They knew it was because of their existence that this tree was valued. Then they indignantly pointed out how badly treated they were, often ripped off before they were ripe or gnawed at by bats and rats.

“We have the worst of all – such a short life. Though prized by humans, many of us can be left to rot at the base. The rest have to give ourselves up to be eaten, pulped, sliced and worse…”

A deep voice broke through the babble.

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“Enough! … I spend a long time waiting for my fruit to ripen,” said the husky stone.

“We fall together. If I am cast aside and land on good earth, we go on. When I dry out, I force my case to split open so the seed can begin to grow into a sapling. I remake all of you from my core when a root descends and a shoot ascends. Trees like us have flourished for thousands of years. We all have our part to do in the growing …”

Just then,  a woman came softly into the garden to look at the moon so the tree fell silent. And the cicadas began their rhythmic nocturne once again.

Growth

Sources – Story adapted from Helen East’s retelling “The Heaviest Burden” in  BRAND, Jill, BLOWS, Wendy & SHORT, Caroline. The Green Umbrella: stories, songs, poems and starting points for environmental assemblies. London, Black, 1991:93.

Mango – Wikiwand article

All text and photos by Meg

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.