I love to tell a story….honouring a long tradition of story telling through the ages

‘I love to tell the story; ’tis pleasant to repeat
What seems, each time I tell it, more wonderfully sweet.’  ~  ( Katherine Hankey, 1866 )

Dawdling at the kitchen window this morning,

Kitchen reflections

Kitchen reflections

I reflected on the tradition of Sunday story telling that was part of my younger years.  When I was little, the early hours of Sunday morning were filled by listening to Story Time/Children’s Hour on the radio. The same stories were repeated endlessly.  Yet I was not bothered by the repetition. It was good to hear old favourites over and over. Once Story Time and breakfast time were finished, we were shepherded off to Sunday School where, once again, we listened to stories; stories that had been told, and retold, for thousands of years.

We listened to those stories, we acted them out, we coloured them in, and we sang them, too. Remember this one?  Tell me the old, old story.

Thinking about Sundays and stories reminded me that I have a story to tell. It’s not new. You have heard most of it before; it’s tall but true, as well as sweet and ‘pleasant to repeat’.

It goes like this.

In the beginning there was  Britt , of the beautiful smile and the blue beret.

Britt at Oregon Zoo

Britt at Oregon Zoo

Then there was the Book that Britt wrote,

and the Kindle that Gallivanta bought to read the book that Britt wrote,

The challenge of a new style of reading

The challenge of a new style of reading

which turned out to be a game changer in Gallivanta’s life, and prompted her to be a little sassy and issue a playful challenge to Britt, of the beautiful smile and the blue beret. The challenge:  to locate a totem pole by Chief Lelooska somewhere in Portland, the  replica of which  stood 7,000 miles away, here, at Christchurch Airport, in New Zealand.

 

And Britt, being much like one of the determined women in her Book, took up Gallivanta’s challenge and, with a few choice words like “Gallivanta, you stinker”,  went on a Totem Pole Quest in Portland, Oregon.

Was she successful? You bet. For two months Britt quested and queried and questioned and, finally, she  found Chief Lelooska’s Totem Pole, recently restored and reinstalled, at Oregon Zoo. It was a beautiful sight to behold.

Chief Lelooska's Totem Pole, Oregon Zoo, Portland, 2014

Chief Lelooska’s Totem Pole, Oregon Zoo, Portland, 2014

The End, but not quite…..if you would like to read more about Britt’s Totem Pole quest and the story of the Totem Pole itself, click here and follow the links.

Story telling over, it’s back to more dawdling for me,

Gather round little blossoms and listen to my tales

Gather round little blossoms and listen to my tales

and wondering why the little yellow flower of the sharp tasting rocket is so sweetly scented. Must be a story in that. 🙂

By the way, for the child in all of us, don’t forget that Story Time is still  a regular feature on Radio New Zealand.  Have a listen.

Endnote:

The photos of Britt at the Zoo and of Chief Lelooska’s Totem Pole at the Oregon Zoo are used with kind permission from Britt. Please do not copy  or use them without her consent.

© silkannthreades

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142 thoughts on “I love to tell a story….honouring a long tradition of story telling through the ages

  1. Karin Van den Bergh

    I know this story 😉 That was some challenge, but I’m glad Britt didn’t give up. A nice way of connecting in finding common ground 🙂
    And I so much love to tell and listen to stories too. We also had storytelling on the radio and another thing I loved to do was listening to those old audio casettes or record discs with story’s and fairy tales accompanied by some great pieces of classical music. It was my first introduction to classical music. In fact whenever I hear a famous part I immediately associate it with the story I know from my childhood.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Oh yes, yes, I remember the classical music too. I particularly liked listening to a children’s version of Swan Lake. It was just glorious. Wasn’t Britt great to take up the hunt for the totem pole?

      Reply
  2. mmmarzipan

    This is awesome! So glad she found it! What a treasure hunt 🙂 My dad loves to tell stories… and I think I got it from him… and my son has inherited it from me 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      One of my little pet theories (I have a few!) is that every generation in a family has a storyteller; the person who assumes the role of raconteur or recorder. And that person is as vital to the survival of the family as the care giver or the provider. Just an ill-defined theory. 😉 But I am delighted that you and little L share your father’s love of telling stories.

      Reply
  3. Tiny

    I love it that you make such a good use of your new Kindle…as a table decoration and otherwise 🙂 You already know I love that Totem, seeing the twin is wonderful. Lovely story telling as always!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      LOL, Tiny, a Kindle is an unusual table decoration. But you never know what you might find on my table. Many years ago, I found one of my son’s friends collapsed on it in a drunken stupour! The table has never completely recovered. The lad in question is doing just fine.

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Tiny, you now have me thinking that I could write a post on all the things/people/animals that have attached themselves to my table. Oh the stories my table could tell!

        2. Gallivanta Post author

          Right then. I need to sit down and consult my table and see what we can come up with. It may take a while. Table discussions and conversations can go on for hours; even days. 😉

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Not only did I learn about the totem pole but all the other monuments and sculptures in Austin. I particularly like the Arboretum cows. The Austin totem pole also relates to armed services personnel.

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          That’s something positive then. Am I correct in thinking that the Arboretum is actually a retail shopping complex. A very classy one? I would love our shopping areas to be beautifully landscaped.

        2. Steve Schwartzman

          Yes, the Arboretum is a retail shopping complex. For decades it was prestigious, and to this day it’s common for businesses anywhere else in the vicinity to say that they’re near the Arboretum or to give themselves names with Arboretum in them. A few years ago the City of Austin subsidized a new and much larger complex a few miles away called the Domain, that has stolen a lot of the Arboretum’s thunder. As I see it, it’s an injustice for a municipality to subsidize one shopping center at the expense of another (or various others): let the businesses rise and fall on their merits, say I, without using my taxes to influence the outcome.

  4. Alexander Lautsyus

    At the summer time in my childhood while we’ve been on holiday every single morning at 10am all of us ran home to listen story on radio. By that time we did not have TV and radio was like the window to the World. Unfortunately, today because of massive commercial on TV and radio I do not like them at all and love to read books more than before.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Radio was the window to my world, too. Now I only listen to our ad-free National Radio. Otherwise, like you, I enjoy reading. You have happy summer memories. 🙂

      Reply
  5. diannegray

    I read Britt’s post about the totem pole and loved it! What a great challenge 😀

    I remember listening to The Happy Prince (Oscar Wilde) when I was a child and recently a friend and I were talking about it and we both started crying! Yes, those stories do have a lasting effect xxx

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I probably would too. That was one of the stories that got a lot of air time in my childhood. It was beautifully read. I wonder who did the reading.
      By the way, the end of Letting Sleeping Gods Lie doesn’t have to be rewritten…phew! I am now on to Wolf Pear. 🙂

      Reply
      1. diannegray

        That’s wonderful (wipes forehead that I don’t have to rewrite!) 😉 I really hope you enjoy Wolf Pear xxx

        I think it was Bing Crosby who read The Happy Prince on the record we used to have (the voice was very familiar) 😀

        Reply
  6. shoreacres

    I’ve been sitting here thinking about the difference between “read me a story” and “tell me a story.” When I was a child, I always asked my folks to read me a story. But my grandma? She could tell a story with the best of them. She was Swedish, and grew up in the old country, and could go on for hours about trolls, talking animals, and sailors putting to sea.

    Beyond that, Sunday afternoons on the porch, or even Sunday dinners, were times for telling family stories. Even there, we loved hearing the same tales over and over. Everyone knew what had happened, everyone knew the cast of characters and how things turned out, but it didn’t make any difference. We’d all listen, and if someone got it wrong, there either would be an easy correction or a battle royal: depending on who felt wronged!

    And, yes, one of our favorite songs at Sunday School was “I Love to Tell the Story.” Even there, the familiarity of the song was comfortable. I just sang the first verse and chorus, right out of the blue. I’m a little fuzzy on verse 2, though.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It was ‘read to me’ in my childhood home, too. And on the rare occasions that I asked my grandmother to tell me a story the response was usually
      “I’ll tell you a story about Jackanory
      and now my story’s begun;
      I’ll tell you another of Jack and his brother
      and now my story is done (Anonymous)”

      A vexing response but one I have used myself! Your grandmother’s stories must have been wonderful to hear and maybe a little scary at times, too. Was she recounting traditional tales do you think, or just making them up as she went along?

      During my recent visit to my parents we had some special moments of hearing the old family stories. And, yes, I remember larger gatherings where the stories have been told, laughed over and corrected, and rejected by some.

      You did better than me with the hymn. I could only recall the first line!

      Reply
      1. shoreacres

        I’ve been thinking about your question about Grandma’s storytelling. I really don’t know if she was telling traditional tales: partly because I don’t know the Swedish folk tales, and partly because my memory is so dim. I do remember many stories around Christmas that involved the Lucia traditions, and the traditional foods. The best two family stories were kept from me for decades. Finally, my mother’s sister spilled the beans on one, and my dad told me the other. It’s time to get to the telling of both.

        Reply
  7. Sheryl

    What an awesome story! It’s a small world. Who would have guessed that there were identical totem poles in Portland and Christchurch? I enjoyed reading the story of the quest here and on Brit’s blog.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Glad you enjoyed both my version of the quest and Britt’s. I am wondering if we should get another point of view eg what did Britt’s Mr H think of it all? 😉 The connections we find across the world never cease to amaze me. For example I didn’t know anything about hardware disease until you told the story of Dr Muffly’s invention. Now I see that it affects cows here too.http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/farming/dairy/9525310/Farmer-loses-cows-to-feed-hardware

      Reply
  8. Cynthia Reyes

    Oh, I remember those storytelling times. Evenings in our case. Lots of ghost stories too and they scared the daylights out of us. What a challenge you set for poor Britt. But she clearly proved her mettle. A tall tale indeed.
    And “Tell me the old, old story….” Brings back memories.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Oh yes, or is it OH NO!, the ghost stories. I can’t remember a single one but I do remember the feeling of being awfully scared. Especially when the stories are told in a house that is supposed to be haunted anyway.
      Britt did prove her mettle….mind you, mettle is a pre-requisite for being a writer, wouldn’t you agree?

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          How did you guess what was going through my mind? 😀 😀 Actually I just want some more tales of your beautiful heritage apples, plus glimpses of pies

        2. Gallivanta Post author

          Actually I do have two Canadian/NZ connections which are of interest but don’t currently require investigation. One is the writer Eleanor Catton, author of The Luminaries who was born in London, Ontario and lived in my Christchurch. I confess I have yet to read The Luminaries. It is the bulk of the book that scares me! The other connection is Lord Rutherford of Nelson. He was married here https://silkannthreades.wordpress.com/2013/10/27/3252/ at one of my favourite old churches. He was a professor at McGill University, Montreal. And my first year at University in Christchurch was spent in the same building where Rutherford had his Den. Oh, and then there is my Aunt Lily who had, so the family lore says, a team of huskies in Canada…..but that’s all of the story anyone remembers!

  9. Daniela

    I cam over to yours to say ‘Hi -:))’ on this rather fine Tuesday morning and found this wonderful post! I love stories and have fond memories of many my grandfather used to tell me in Croatia! Even more amazingly I found mention of Ivana Brlic Mazuranic on your site; I absolutely adored her stories as a child.

    All the Best,
    Daniela

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I am so pleased to hear that. Ivana Brlic Mazuranic is a ‘new’ writer to me but I am loving learning about her and her influence over so many generations. I remember a story you wrote about your grandfather; it was lovely.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you Mary. Have you ever tried to paint an entire totem pole? They are very hard to photograph; at least I find it hard. And you almost need binoculars to see all the details. The skill of the carver is incredible.

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          I didn’t have time to read them properly either but it is fascinating see how much trouble was taken over them and the beauty of the illustrations. Perhaps those times during and after the First World War desperately needed the reassurance of fairy tales, and hence the resurgence of books on that theme.

  10. inmycorner

    Wonderful! And you buried a story within a story. I loved stories growing up too — and my Mom had to read them to me. As a Mom – I became a story-teller to my own children. Who doesn’t like a good story? I used them to help teach. Will check out the links. Merci pour l’histoire! (thanks for the story)

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Strangely, considering how often I must have been read to, I don’t remember much about it. I expect my mother read to me the most but possibly my brother read to me, too. I do remember reading lots and lots of stories to my little sister, especially at bedtime. And telling her stories, as well. At primary school, I have vivid recollections of the Headmaster coming to our class to read to us once a week; Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,and The Silver Sword are three of the books I recall. I am sure your students will remember the stories you have told them!

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          I did, I did but not until I was an adult. I was introduced to it by my daughter when she was young. Loved it. Enders Game was another fabulous story she persuaded me to read as an adult.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, a very happy ending! I would have been very sad if the original had vanished. However, in my googling on totem poles, I did read that totem poles weren’t designed to last forever; the concept of restoration and renovation is a modern one.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      And Britt has taken me on different adventures too. Yes, the lily of the valley is from my garden. I look forward to its appearance at this time every year. It was my grandmother’s favourite flower, or so the story goes. 🙂

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          It is lovely. Unfortunately, my memories of her are few and vague because she died when I was about 7. What I know about her mostly comes from the stories of others.

    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Wendy, I couldn’t believe the sweetness of the scent of the rocket flowers…. a possibility for your soap perhaps? Glad you remember radio story time, too.

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Just for you, I had a wee nibble of one flower….not really much taste. “arugula “rocket” flowers: focuses energy into the process of any journey or undertaking: helps the seeker trust the goal of any journey is transparency of spirit. “Generosity of Spirit enlightens me” ” And that quote is from http://www.stargardening.com/flower.htm That rather intrigued me considering I used a rocket flower as a symbol of light in my previous post. 🙂

        2. quarteracrelifestyle

          That is intriguing and thanks for sharing that link, there is some rather lovely information in there of much interest to me. I have been drinking the California Poppy Tea and don’t know that I have noticed any changes (I expect there are no quick-fix miracles) except I am sleeping like a baby which is not like me at all. A very interesting science.

        3. Gallivanta Post author

          I bought nigella sativa in tablet/pill form. This was in Egypt where it is commonly found in pharmacies. It was actually the pharmacist who recommended it to me.

        4. quarteracrelifestyle

          Now reading that I have seen other things about Black Seed, I have come across different articles on the net. I will have to read up on it, maybe just eating the whole flower would be nearly as good! That’s pretty pricey ay.

      1. inavukic

        Oh I do have special stories of people that were my ancestors and traveled the world etc etc but I do so love the Croatian fairytale “How Quest Sought the Truth”, written in 1916 by a famous Croatian writer Ivana Brlic Mazuranic – here is a link to the animated version 🙂

        Reply
        1. inavukic

          Ivana Brlic Mazuranic in Croatian literature is much like Hans Christian Andersen for Denmark and beyond – although Ivana was one year old when Hans died 🙂

        2. inavukic

          Indeed, she would have. As to Nobel Prize nominations it is truly an achievement most high to be nominated twice. Thanks Gallivanta for your interest and life does get so rich the more we know about others.

  11. Aquileana

    “Once upon a time”… “The same stories were repeated endlessly. Yet I was not bothered by the repetition. It was good to hear old favourites over and over”.

    Great post dear Gallivanta… I truly liked to read about that prompt regarding the location of that totem somewhere in Portland, the replica of which stood in New Zealand.
    This is the kind of games writers like to play, Am I right?… I’ll take a further peek on the attached links above too!. All the very best to you and I hope you have a great week ahead, Aquileana 😛

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, we are never too old or too young to play games and to tell and listen to stories. 🙂 Your blog features so many of the great stories of our history, and each new generation seems to enjoy them and find something relevant in them.

      Reply
  12. colorpencil2014

    What a great story, about you and Britt! Oh and a little dwelling in the past…I grew up in The Netherlands and storytelling on the radio was every Wednesday afternoon. I still love listening to audiobooks or even better to people, friends or total strangers telling a good story. reading, blogging, all stories from all over the world by different peopel. Lovely sharing!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Oh that’s lovely to know. Do you remember why storytelling was on a Wednesday afternoon? Our schools finish a little earlier on a Wednesday afternoon so that would actually be a good time slot for story telling. I haven’t tried audio books, yet, but I have tried recording on Sound Cloud. The sound quality of my reading was poor but it is something I would like to try again. Reading aloud is great fun. I am looking forward to reading more of your stories on your blog.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Pleased you enjoyed the flowers (and the post). I do have lots of flowers at the moment which is great. Your situation is greater though; you don’t have to wait for mother nature to provide; you know how to make your own flowers!

      Reply
  13. Britt Skrabanek

    Aww, thanks so much, sweetness! Of course now I’m kinda sad that the adventure is over. NOT to say that I need another quest right now…LOL! But the explorer will be itching to get out there again soon. 🙂

    I love that you enjoyed hearing your favorite stories repeated. I meet a lot of people who purposely avoid reading a book they have read, or watching a film they have seen. Not me. When I truly enjoy a piece of art, I come back to it again and again to pick up pieces I missed previously and to let that work become a little piece of me.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      What about your mission to find the whereabouts of the lovers’ bench? We are waiting, patiently. 😉 But I am sure you will find something else adventurous soon ( something like a children’s book 😉 😉 ) My greatest pleasure over the last year has come from re-reading the children’s books stored in my attic. I loved them as a child, of course, but reading them as an adult I am awed by their beauty and creativity. They are little pieces of me, everyone of them.

      Reply
  14. Lavinia Ross

    Your flowers are beautiful, Gallivanta! We are entering into mid-autumn here with cold rain and wind now. I can start planting bulbs for spring!

    Story telling is so important – it connects the generations. That was a great quest you sent Britt on. Enjoyed the story of the totem.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I am so pleased to hear that you are planting bulbs for the spring. I bless each one as I pop them in the ground. 🙂 Not all of them respond to my kind words. 😦 Story telling is important. I love the story of your faithful car. Have you ever told the story of your car in song?

      Reply
  15. KerryCan

    Oh, good old Tennessee Ernie Ford! Makes me smile just to see this–I had an album of him singing gospel songs and they were just grand, in a 1950s, white bread kind of way. Story telling is at the heart of what it means to be human (not to mention at the heart of blogging!)

    Reply
  16. womanseyeview

    I also love listening to stories especially those told on the radio – we have a real tradition of story telling on our national broadcaster – very special. Fun quest you sent your fellow blogger on and so great that she picked it up with such enthusiasm! Lovely to see spring flowers from your part of the world.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Your national broadcaster sounds much like ours. There are no advertisements on our national radio. Is that the case for CBC? I had a look at their website; lots of wonderful programmes. I found this delightful piece; a finalist in the 2014 Canadian Children’s Literature Award. What a lovely story. And, yes, Britt was a 'brick' to take up the challenge.

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Long may the station stay ad-free! Our classical concert radio is still ad-free but TV, of course, is full of ads. I know radio/TV etc requires funding but I would much rather return to paying the old fashioned annual TV/radio fee than be driven mad by ads.

  17. Joanne Jamis Cain

    What a great story! It makes me think of all the stories I loved since I was a child- I have to think about that. I was a voracious reader….
    And that totem pole is very cool. I imagine Britt was very excited when she found it!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Britt was very excited, and relieved. So was I . When she made her first report I was worried I may have sent her on a wild goose chase. I was a voracious reader, too. Some of those books I would be happy to read again. One of my favourites is The Good Master by Kate Seredy. I haven’t read it in a while but I read it over and over as a child.

      Reply
  18. ladysighs

    What a nice story about the totem pole. And a happy ending too. 🙂
    My husband has a few jokes he tells whenever we meet new people. Of course I have heard them all. But each time he adds a little bit and stretches them ooooouuuutttt. It really becomes a little story with a funny ending. And a few times I think, “I haven’t heard this one before.” Or at least not the same version. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      When I was a younger person, I used to groan and roll my eyes when relatives repeated stories. Now I find the habit endearing, and most likely repeat stories myself. I realise now that these stories are meant to be repeated, and stretched, and reinvented. I applaud your husband’s story telling. 😀 😀

      Reply
  19. utesmile

    The flowers are indeed beautiful in your home. I love stories and you know I could listen to stories form my grandmother over and over again. The same story, I found it so fascinating to listen to story not form my life time. Glad I remember some like when she stole apples from the commune garden….. then playing sick because of a very strict grandfather at home. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Oh they sound like fun stories. Have you written them down anywhere? I must confess I haven’t written down many of the family stories that I have been told. I will regret that one day.

      Reply
      1. utesmile

        No I never have….. that is a good idea though as my children won’t keep them, they have no relation to it, they didn’t know my grandmother. Yes I will do that….

        Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      It definitely was. And the Totem Pole in Christchurch links us to the US service personnel involved in Operation Deep Freeze, Antarctica. I wonder if there are any veterans still alive who were on the original missions circa 1956.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thanks Cath. The Totem is amazing. I wish we had someone here in Christchurch to tell us the whole story for each part of the Totem. The plaque at the base of the Totem only gives a brief introduction to its meaning. As for the flowers; being spring there are dozens for the choosing, which means it’s fun to fill lots of little containers whenever I have a spare moment to do so.

      Reply

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