"Once A Time"
Three of us went for a late supper together and enjoyed conversation about where we were, where we had come from, and where we seemed to be heading—all without reference to street signs or road maps.
Friday I had the luxury of freedom for a nap, pleasure in the view of the lake, and a good book. Friday evening was a real treat with Northlands board members taking groups to restaurants. I went with the Irish bunch and had another evening of sharing with old friends and new. Ideas were exchanged and I came away excited to begin a task only contemplated till then.
Friday’s concert increased my joy. Hugs and hellos from long time friends and other storytellers lifted my spirits.
Saturday breakfast was with friends and I left early to meet the presenter I was to introduce later. I wondered where the people were when none showed up at 9 then listened as the presenter said the session would not begin till 10:30 a.m. and other things were happening till then. I listened with friends outside the board access session then went to the Iowa session. Iowa projects and Iowa participation in Northlands were reaffirmed. Perhaps the most important thing for us is to be supportive of events around us even when we are not paid participants.
Down now to introduce the presenter for stories and healing. This topic seems so emotional to me as I have used it and felt it but was given an approachable discipline by the presenter and we went forth again with more knowledge and skill for healing and story.
Lunch nicely done.
Publicity for one person work on a shoestring was awe-inspiring for me because I think the courage to do this and the strength to do it successfully are rare. Good and new ideas for me were shared freely. I could see that everyone in the room took something immediately practical away with them.
Folklore. Ahhhh. Another time when I look around and just hope no one notices I’m in the room and sends me out to something simpler. We are given five dry and difficult definitions of ways to approach the study and classification of folklore.
The presenter played a tape of a 5 and a 3 year old telling “Little Red Riding Hood.” The tape begins with the little girl saying “Once a time… Once a time…Once a time… It seems she knows something is not quite finished but then she decides and goes on decisively with “Once a time…” She directs little brother and improvises a bit in the script and action. We are told the tape was made by the father who studied language development, that the children did not know a tape was being made, that it was a puppet play, and that the mother was a facilitator.
Now we are divided into 5 groups, each of which is to take one of the ways to study folklore and apply it to this tape that we have found in archives somewhere and consider to be folklore.
The report from the first group covers innocents being cast into the wilderness and some mention is made of Internet pornography. The second mentions arch conservatives and George W though not by name. The third used “liberal” at least once. The fourth has made some decisions about location of tape and asks questions. he fifth is my group. I recognize immediately that I am in over my head so announce that I have perfected the knowing and supportive nod of my head and will be glad to contribute that as needed.
The group determines that we would interpret this in the manner of the Wooster Group (a far-out theater and interpretation think tank of the 60’s). One says her poetry group would begin with the chant “Once a time, Once a time, Once a time, Once a time, ONCE A TIME… Another says we’d obtain photos of the four—girl, boy, father, mother—and project those in the background while playing the tape continuously. The first break in the playing would be to reenact the puppet play. The images would be ever-present in the background. The tape would continue only to be stopped the second time for live performance as a theater piece. The tape would move on, the image projection would continue then both would be interrupted while the scene was replayed on the street outside with PETA and all protesting the depiction of the wolf. At this point, one person looked at me and said in jest you’ll need to be our presenter. I shook my head no as I knew much more than a knowing and supportive head shake would be necessary.
The annual banquet followed. Great, great food simply presented. My group waited to see if being dismissed by table was to be the rule of the evening but then moved into line, served themselves, and dined. In line, I was able to ask another about how to clean and reproduce the tapes I made of my Mother telling family stories as we cover the four family graveyards one Memorial Day. Chocolates for dessert were a treat.
A report from NSN (the other one) through our new representative on that Board made it known to all that Tina Rohde and Colleen Shaskin were being recognized at the national level for the leadership in moving the business of Northlands way forward with automated mailing lists and such while doing the grunt work wherever it was necessary and continuing their invaluable work of joy and inspiration through the WonderWeavers. Sue O’Halloran’s award was announced as well.
The President shared joy and energy and even offered a piece of the podium to serve as gavel to facilitate passing of the gavel she forgot. New president shared a story and speech drawing us all into a future where we add even more deliberate intent to nurture storytelling and link storytellers.
The concert was grand. The contra dancing seemed joyful.
Many formed smaller groups and some networked while some shared a drink and life and times.
Sunday breakfast was lovely.
Inspirational groups were formed under four general headings—love, laughter, learning, and lessons in wisdom. I went to the one I knew was in a small room and thought might be a smaller group. Six of us shared and in that setting had time to tell and talk then tell and talk. Then we were offered the opportunity to listen long and well. Powerful images were shared then. Each year I look for at least one “Aha” moment at Northlands and this was the one for me in 2006.
Lunch provided options through a walk to a restaurant, a buffet at the Edgewater, pockets and groups of friends and takeout, or a feeding of the spirit again through a quiet time to talk once more with the people who come to Northlands.
The closing circle was well done with “Will the Circle be Unbroken” and the help of the New Voices to gather as spokes in the wheels that make up Northlands.
I was afraid the traditional chant had been eliminated and was pleased to find it there and well. That chanting and hug were first presented to Northlands long ago. Some are intimidated by the ritual—it isn’t as clear as “Turn off that cell phone now.” Some wonder about all that dancing around singing a slow chant. Some avoid that group hug and all that other closeness with strangers.
I was glad to see it again as a powerful farewell culminating in a group hug and then breaking up into lots of little hugs and heartfelt farewells—meaning may you fare well and may we meet again. “Once a time” again at Northlands I found fulfillment and joy enough to know I’ll need to come back.