Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Posts Tagged ‘blackbird’

Storytelling Starters ~ Gold

Saturday, April 6th, 2019

When you think about it, it’s sometimes very hard to say what makes a particular topic come to your mind. For instance, I have no idea what started me thinking about nightingales this morning. Not blackbirds but nightingales. Or perhaps instead of nightingales (plural) I should say nightingale (singular). For to my knowledge I’ve only ever encountered one. And it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.

My personal experience:

It was on the island of Iona off the north-west coast of Scotland. Paul and I were visiting Oban on the mainland (my maternal grandfather hailed from Oban). In the course of our visit, we took a trip across to Mull and thence on to Iona where we were able to spend a few days staying in a remote little guesthouse where, each night, our host would call upstairs to say that the electricity was about to go off because he was about to turn off the generator. (more…)

Storytelling Starters: Birdland

Saturday, May 14th, 2016

NZbirdcompressI’m visiting booming bittern territory this weekend. Will I get to hear one? If I’m lucky. The booming bittern has been one of the most threatened bird species in the UK. Evidently, it’s now making a bit of a comeback. It belongs in the heron family, lurks in reed beds and is extremely secretive. It’s the male that makes the extraordinary noise. When I heard one in the same area a few years ago, it really did BOOM.

And then there’s the blackbirds. So intense and tuneful is their singing, morning and evening, here in our part of South London, it fills the air around us. It is pure joy. 

But  for this week’s blog, I promised a story about how birds came to live in trees. This story was originally told to me by a woman from Thailand in an Adult Education class in storytelling I was running at the time.  Apologising profusely for her poor English, she then told the story to great effect. I’ve retold it in this blog once before, back in 2011. It bears repeating. I think it works well with Primary-age children.

TWO BIRDS IN A BEARD or HOW BIRDS GOT TO LIVE IN TREES: (more…)

Storytelling Starters ~ The blackbird’s song

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

Know any stories about the blackbird? After racking my brain, I’ve concluded I don’t. But I’d like to. For this year, the blackbirds round us seem more beautiful than ever. With one pair out the front, one at the back, it feels like we’re surrounded by golden song – and it goes on from dawn to dusk. With some friends the other day, we all agreed. Yes, they said – and they weren’t all from round here – the blackbirds are especially brilliant this year. As good as the nightingale, two of us ventured. Maybe even better.

And that put me in mind of a story. You probably need no reminding. It’s the one about how the nightingale got its song. But at first it masquerades as the story of how the birds got their colours.

How the birds got their colours

P1060296One day long ago when the world was new, God sent a message to the birds to let them know that he’d soon be coming to give them colours. He even appointed a day and told them not to be late. The birds became very excited. On the day, they were ready and waiting, fascinated to know what these colours would be.

When God arrived with his suitcase, he got them all to line up. Then he opened his case, arranged his paints, picked up his brushes and began. You should have seen what he did – how beautiful he made them look and how different from each other in different combinations of reds and greens and yellows and blues.

After he’d finished, God was putting his things away when one little brown bird came hurrying up, all dishevelled and sad because he was late. God said he was terribly sorry: all his paints were used up by now, he had nothing left. When the little bird heard this, he was so distressed that God said he’d take another look just in case he could find a little something for him. ‘Ah yes,’ God said as he rummaged around. ‘Here is something, it’ll be just right.’

What God had found was a tiny spot of gold at the bottom of one of his pots. ‘Now open your beak,’ God told the little brown bird as he picked up the gold with one of his finest brushes. When the little bird’s mouth was open wide, God placed that tiny spot of gold right at the back of its throat. And ever since, that otherwise undistinguished little bird – it was the nightingale – has had gold in its song. (more…)