I’ve come to love the winter. There’s something about the long elegant slide from fall into the world of white that lulls me. I become relaxed. I become settled and I relearn the fine art of stillness and reflection. For me it’s all firelight and home.
My people say that winter is the storytelling time. The months of snow and frost are called the Storytelling Moons and it’s the time of year when legends, teaching tales and traditional stories are shared around the fire. Stories were once my people’s university and everyone got to go.
I don’t know how much that happens anymore. The native world has undergone as many changes as the mainstream one and things get set aside, forgotten or altered forever. Storytelling around a fire. There’s a charm in that old tradition and I yearn for it.
I first heard the Ojibway Creation story around a campfire on a winter’s night long ago. Another time I heard hilarious stories about traditional life in pre-settlement times that made me realize how valuable humor is as a teaching tool. When I light my fires now I hear echoes of those tales.
There’s magic in the sound of a human voice augmented by the crackle of a fire. There’s something ancient and eternal that stirs things within us and you don’t have to be a native person to understand that. Everyone from every culture has a fire and a story in their past.
Maybe it’s just the romantic part of me that loves that image. Or maybe the Ojibway heart of me calls to the seed of heritage in that. Either way, the winter has always come to be storytime. I seem to write better when the north wind blows, even.
Or on the other hand, maybe it’s just a plain old human thing. Maybe it’s something we all share regardless of where we come from. My people say that we are all one soul, one spirit and I choose to believe that too.
Everyone has huddled in the darkness around a common fire. Somewhere in our collective pasts is a fire in the night and the sound of someone talking. All of us carry in our genes, the sense of community, belonging and security that comes from a band of people, leaning forward and disappearing into the magic of an old tale, well told and empowering.