Thomas Doty – Storyteller

A Native View

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Season of Stories

Patches of snow speckle shady spots on the valley floor, and snow in the mountains is crusty from clear, cold nights filled with the brilliance of mid-winter stars.

This is the height of the native storytelling season, the moon we call "Shoulder to Shoulder Around the Fire."

On winter nights community lodges were crowded with folks eager for imaginative breaks from the leafless landscape. They were hungry for nightly immersions into the depths of stories that reminded them of warmer days to come, days to wander up mountain slopes to the best berry-picking places, up and down rivers to the best fishing places. The stories reminded them of summer-rich treks to visit relations in distant villages now cut off by mountain passes clogged with snow and ice. The stories not only transformed the landscape. They filled that vista with vivid memories of ancestors, families and friends, and their day to day lives ... full-throated dramas of birth, of love and life, of death....

This season of stories also has its origins in the making of the stories themselves. During long, dark nights just right for dreaming, nipped by air as pure as a frozen vision, the most creative among the people were inspired to spin tales that grew with each telling, stories that blossomed by spring into full-fledged myths, cycles of stories that snowballed each winter for centuries

Many of these myths survive today. We tell them night after freezing night. As long as they live, we live. We are reminded of a rich landscape lucid with each breath of our lives. As the storytelling moon waxes and wanes, and waxes and wanes again, the season turns slowly to spring.