Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Going on

It’s that time of year. Sorting feels imperative, like it must take priority over everything else. The trouble is that when sorting happens, distraction occurs. You remember household jobs that must be done, friends with whom you must reconnect, enterprises you failed to pursue that now compel your interest all over again.

All these things are happening to me right now. But one aspect of the sorting that is pleasing is being reminded of stories. Sorting folders on my computer has brought me to folktales I love and haven’t told for a while. It’s also brought me to stories I’ve written and kept largely hidden. Re-reading them now – and they’re stories for reading, not telling – has made me think I might like to share them, even try getting them published.

Meantime, here’s a folktale I was especially glad to be reminded of. First, it’s a very good story for knowing and telling. Second, it took my mind back to the storytelling trip that once took me to the part of North West America that is the traditional land of the Salish people. Mink is one of the heroes of Salish story and this is one of the stories about him. It has certainly found its way into this blog before now and it seems to me to be especially appropriate for the start of a new year.

Story: How Mink Stole Time

This is the story of how the animals got hold of time. You see, they’d heard that the Europeans had time. And they’d come to see  what power it gave them.

That’s why Mink volunteered to steal it. For Mink was a very good thief. Already, back in the beginning, he’d managed to steal the sun and put it in the sky. And after that triumph, for which everyone was grateful, Mink was perfectly ready to steal again for the benefit of all.

So Mink crept into the house of the Europeans. He looked around. And there it was. Up on the mantelshelf over the fire. In a shiny wooden box, with a plain glass door at the front and, inside the box, two metal strips that looked like arrows going round and round in a circle. At the back was a key hanging on a small metal peg.

Mink took the box. He brought it out and said it was Time. The animals were very grateful until they realized that now they had Time, they had to watch it. They also had to keep on winding it up in case it ran out. Furthermore, now that they had it, they saw that there were things that had to be done with it such as holding meetings and keeping appointments, and carrying out schedules and programmes.

That’s how the animals came to see that Time can rule us.

The alternative is to learn to enjoy it. Which is where stories do help.

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