Sunday, January 11, 2009
I omitted a very important resplution from my list below:
Tell more stories...
Little Man and I have just seen my Mother off at the airport. We exchange hugs and promises of next visits while around us others spin out their own tales of departure and separation with tears and smiles and laughter. I tell her I was glad she had come; she replies with a smile and thanks, followed by a sudden, sharp mugging with the memory of a perceived slight. We then stand and wave our last goodbyes as she slips through the opaque sliding doors that separate the secure from the unsecure. My mind stings like a slapped cheek. Why does each chapter always have to end this way?
I turn away, planning to head for the car and home to our own home story. In front of us a jade canoe heaves into view, frozen in bronze yet seeming to glide forward, towards the unknown. The Spirit of Haida Gwaii is one of my favourite sculptures. I ask Little Man if we should go have a look, and with an impish grin he speeds off towards the massive craft, crowded with a fantastic, mythical crew. I catch up with him and he begins asking questions. Who's that? Is that an eagle? What are they doing? Where are they going? I reply that the sculpture tells a story, and ask if he would like to help me tell it.
I take him to a plaque off to the side and begin to read to him about the Spirit of Haida Gwaii. As I describe the craft and its crew, he races off eagerly to find each creature. Sitting in the bow is Bear, staring resolutely backwards at a past he refuses to abandon. Next to him is his human wife, Bear Mother, who clutches her cubs while looking for the future. Trusty Beaver paddles steadily ahead, as does the Reluctant Conscript, the everyman who is both taken for granted and the reason for it all. Then there is the alluring Dogfish Woman, who exudes a mystical desire as deep and dark as the ocean, despite her hooked nose, gill slits and wild piercings. The sharp-featured Mouse Woman huddles in the stern, hiding under Raven's tail; she is the guide between worlds. Wolf digs his claws into Beaver's back, while chewing on Eagle's wing. In turn, the noble Eagle's pride compells him to bite Bear's paw. Frog sits partly in the boat, bridging the land and sea. The cunning, charming Raven sits in the stern, steering the canoe wherever his trickster fancy takes him. Finally we come to the Shaman, who sits stoically in the middle of this tumultuous vessel, clutching the intricately carved staff that represents the world view of the Haida. A story within a story.
Having met all the creatures, Little Man's attention turns towards a promised hot chocolate. We sit in comfy chairs as travellers pass by, sipping our drinks. I tell Little Man that stories are important, so very important. They help us understand ourselves and others. They record what must be remembered. And they help us make sense of what we don't understand.
He looks at me for a moment, then busies himself with exctracting the dregs of chocolate foam. My mind stings a little less.
Pothole Skinny - Stories Locked In Time (buy here or e-here)
The Clock Work Army - Read Me A Story (buy here or e-here)