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Friday, December 28, 2007

Let Me Tell You A Story...

So why am I starting a blog now? Because it's the end of an old year, with a fresh one a calendar page away? Perhaps it's because my 49th birthday is next week? I think its just because I have a story to tell.

Stories have always been important to me...both my parents were readers. Mom read books to me in the evenings after the farm chores were done. She didn't read "little kid's books, either. I still have "Big Red" and "Lassie Come Home" among my treasured volumes. Dad would occasionally let me sit in the floor and look at his "Herter's Professional Guide's Manuel" or his "Missouri Conservationist" magazines. The important thing is that books were important to my parents...the stories became a reward for good behavior, a treat at the end of the day, and a much anticipated birthday or Christmas present. As a child I could entertain myself for hours, making up my own stories, plotting out my life. Imagination was my toy of choice...stories were my way of gateway to the world.

Stories. That's how my first day of class started. I was late...but that's a story for another day. It's the stories that are important here. Gathered in a circle around a fire in the 8-sided shelter called Malao E Chui we told who we were, where we came from, what sort of ecosystem we were most familiar with, and why we'd come to Wilderness Awareness School (WAS). There were a lot of stories around that fire.

It was the first of many circles...the first of many stories. Over the course of the year we became better, more confident story tellers. It took a long time for me to believe that the instructors really wanted to hear what I had to say, and so I'd often make it short and to the point. I could answer direct questions, but didn't elaborate much. I didnt' believe that my story was all that interesting.

It started in grade school, as it almost always does, when teachers didn't often appreciate my sense of the dramatic. Telling stories was akin to telling lies, according to the grownups. They tried to squash any little kid who exhibited the ability or inclination to tell stories or be creative in answering questions.

My ex-husband, hereafter refered to as The Rat B*****d, didn't value stories or writing. His mother once told me that having a short article published in the newspaper didn't make me special. Like many creative people do, I learned to keep my stories to myself.

There were exceptions, of course. Thank God for Mrs. Kerr, my 9th grade English teacher. She praised my writing and even encouraged me to think about becoming a writer. Her belief in my talent has kept a spark alive all these years - one that was blown into flame again at WAS.

Stories are important here. Every class day begins with a circle and with thanksgiving. Often that would mean sharing a story about something we had experienced or seen - "I'm thankful for the Winter Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) that visits my sit spot." Many times we would end the session by sharing The Story of the Day. It might take all of us to tell it, because so often we only know a small part of the story. It's only by hearing the stories of others that we see the big picture. You never know who's story might contain the part that you need to hear. You never know what part of your story someone else might be waiting for.

By telling my story I may help you to understand yours...I might even give you the courage to change the ending of the story that you tell. So come closer...I don't like to yell..but do I have a story for you...

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My Favorite Fiction Authors and Books

  • Suzanne Arruda- the Jade del Cameron mysteries: "The Mark of the Lion" "Stalking Ivory", "The Serpent's Daughter", "The Leopard's Prey" and "The Golden Cheetah"
  • Ken Goddard - "Balefire" and others
  • Stephen White - the Dr. Alan Gregory books are all great. "Kill Me" is my favorite.
  • Harlan Coben - anything he writes is great
  • Elizabeth Peters - Amelia Peabody mysteries

My Favorite Nonfiction Authors and Books

  • "Coyote's Guide to Connecting With Nature" by Jon Young, Ellen Haas and Evan McGown- 2nd edition coming soon!
  • Gavin De Becker - "The Gift of Fear"
  • "Deep Survival" by Laurence Gonzales- the best survival book I've ever read! Not a how-to, its more of a who does,and why.
  • Candice Millard - "The River of Doubt -Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey"
  • Anything that starts with "Peterson's Field Guide To..."
  • Tom Brown, Jr. - "The Tracker" and others
  • Mark Elbroch - "Mammal Tracks and Sign" and "Animal Skulls"