Sharing Stories

Recently I mentioned it was the anniversary of my father’s death and a friend asked me to tell her a story about him. This simple thing reminded me of how much power there is in a story. In this case, it was a way to remember and share and bring a tiny piece of him back to life. But that power is the same, even if the story is about a place, or a time, or a song, or a pet. Or even simple things like how a person’s day was. Tiny stories are as powerful as novel-length ones.

I followed that conversation with reading something similar in a book. In it, the character is looking at worlds facing war and he realizes that prejudice is adding to people readying for violence (this is simplifying the plot considerably). He decides people need to see each other as people rather than where they are from or what race the belong to, so he starts interviewing others for their stories and traditions, and then he broadcasts those stories out into the universe.

Again, the power of story.

So I want to ask you the same thing. Can you tell me a story about something that resonated with you, or meant a lot to you, or made you laugh, or pause, or think, or cry? Share something mundane or earth shattering so that I can sink into a story and share that place in time with you.

I’m going to go make a cup of tea and then settle into the chair and wait for you.

Swimming

She goes into the river, swimming, where no one sees the flow of tears in the rush of mountain water. She swims with the salmon, returning, and returning yet again.

She seeks pools and eddies and wild current to sweep her away.

And through it all, her tears soak into the river, flowing, slowing, returning.

I go into the trees, tears soaking into forest floor, seeping between roots and returning, rising up through moss and roots and heartwood.

Rising through leaves to air, to clouds, to rain.

Rain to fall like tears into the river.

She goes into the river, swimming, when sun seeps into the depths, when snow falls, when turning leaves twist in currents. And in the water, in all our tears, she sheds her skin, sheds her grief, and for a moment, is borne away.

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Owls And Rivers

Owls, in some myths, are the keepers of stories. My sister once had a vision of me surrounded by owls during a period when, due to illness, I couldn’t write. I clung to that vision of hers as if it were mine, as if all those owls promised words would return.

I read a poem today. It grabbed my heart as hard as a poem I once read years ago. Both were about the river, with potent imagery. The one today was by a young woman, Annie, who has never written poetry. The one years ago was by a close friend, Sabrina. What ties these two women together besides poems about the river? Annie is part of the family who just lost Sam to the river. Sabrina is Sam’s mother.

Is. Not was. Always his mother.

Those two poems are stirring inside. I can feel their power, like wind through feathers, like strong wings lifting upwards. Their owls, taking flight, carrying the spirit of their words out over that whitewater. Returning their stories to the river. To float forever with Sam.

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For those of you who don’t know Sabrina, she’s a river spirit. She swims the wild river year round. She floats held up by the foam of whitewater. And she once wrote about how the light changes under water when summer turns to fall. How the river changes with the seasons. Until she wrote that, I’d never given any thought to light under water.

Annie’s poem is a tribute to Sam, but also a tribute to Sabrina. She talks about how Sabrina swallowed the river and a drop grew to become Sam. How the river runs through their veins.

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Now I sit here thinking of light and water, of rivers that give and take, of rivers that always, always, change the land around us, change the very mountains, change our lives.

Change Is Just Behind the Mountains by Sabrina Grafton

Late summer light comes with more orange mixed in, the mountains that line this valley glow with it early and late in the day with the middle fading through yellow to light blue.

The river’s lost most of the current in our favorite swimming hole, green water is shallower and drifts past without much serious purpose in heading downstream.

Not like late fall water, which is all fattened up with ongoing rain and moves like it really has somewhere to go or the spring flow-runoff mixed with rain that belts towards the mouth, forty miles or so downstream.

Now it’s the slow time, before salmon return and the sprinkling of vine maple leaves that season the water with drifting red flakes.

When the rains move in the river water cools and even if the heat of summer returns for a late few days the river has already turned, readied itself for the next season.

There’s a few days, right at the end of summer when the days move so slowly that time is very nearly stopped and, the truth is, fall is hurtling toward you, unheeded but speeding on just the same.

Poised underwater, eyes open to the greenish cast that surrounds me

I glide silently along, just above the textured river bottom which is dappled in light that exactly reflects the pattern of the waves on the surface above.

Completely at peace

Fall can come

I surface, then quickly return to the green world below

To the bliss that is a perfect day in the river.

Today the wind blew steadily as I took my plunge, just before dark, at our favorite swimming hole.

The town bridge arches over the water like a great, breaching, concrete fish and a deep humming song like Tibetan tones resonated from the cables that stretch to the peak of the arch

Sounds so low that they seemed to come from the river itself

Deep songs of change

Weather’s coming in, the old timers say

I shiver as I dress, content with what I’ve had

But hoping that the mountains will catch the clouds up for one day longer

And give me one more perfect day.

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