Thursday, July 25, 2013

The shicken did it - storytelling!

Summer is a great time for stories.  All us sleep-away camp veterans remember the campfires and our counselors warning us of the Witch Lady or the Evil Bear.   Ooohhhhhh! Scary.

But stories do more than just titillate and keep the timid awake at night.  Stories solidify our memories.  They create a family legend that helps us with our self-identity.  Stories teach.  Stories inspire.  And they are just plain fun.

When I was just learning to talk, I developed a great fear of chickens.  This was a problem since my grandfather owned a farm.  Those chickens freaked me out.  And if I got a scrape or a bruise or stubbed my toe, I pronounced, "The shicken did it."
Pretty close to the original scary chicken.
Someone gave me an inflatable chicken but my parents had to put it on top of the corner cupboard, it scared me that much.

My mother told us all stories about when we were "little".  She told me about my stint of blaming everything on "shickens".  "The shicken did it", was a phrase we shared. And when I was old enough to explain things, I remembered a dream I had had.  "Oh", I said.  "When I was little, I dreamed that that rubber chicken was chasing me and pecking me."

This is a tiny memory.  If my mother had NOT told me stories of when I was "little", I would have forgotten the chicken dream and the brightly colored toy that haunted my early childhood.  And a little part of who I am would remain a mystery.  I am still not terribly fond of chickens, unless they are fried or served with dumplings.

Yesterday, my mom and my youngest sister and I visited Illick's Mill which has been turned into an Environmental Center.  The Center is working on the public side of the "pond" that edges my parents' property.  Illick's Mill and I have a history and the building has changed from my teen days.  We got the grand tour and the summer intern walked back to the pond with us and explained what they were doing. My sister and mother and I shared stories of how things were when we were young. 

To remember your stories, you must tell them.  Repetition makes then stick in your brain.  Find a willing listener and tell them a story about who you were, who you are, where you went and where you are going.  Then help them tell a story to you.

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