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Moving on…

November 18, 2009

I’ve moved. Not far… just seven miles up the road. But I had lived in the old farmhouse by the sea for almost twenty years – and I didn’t want to leave it.

But – for everything, there is a season – and this was my season for a transformation. We talk about transformations in storytelling all the time. Rarely, do we actually experience them.

I experienced this one s..l..o..w..l..y. The process started in June with the purchase of home # 2, a snug little house blocks from the village of Langley. I moved in September. I remember the first time I stood in my new yard and heard voices… oh…neighbors. That’s right; I’ll have them. That will be different. And it is. So is walking to the grocery store or the bank or the coffee shop. But the neighbors are nice; one sweet woman brought me cookies days after I moved in.

I still miss the wonderful vistas – space and grass and the sea – and the ferries doing their do-si-do across the water. I miss the wild critters: the hoot of the Great Horned Owl and the cry of the coyote – and the quiet. But, gradually, I’m settling in – and liking it.

In addition to moving, I have done a bit of theater recently. Whidbey Island is chock-full of artists and artisans. (What a great place to live!) I was lucky enough to appear with David Ossman of Firesign Theater fame and fifteen other talented Islanders in a production of Dylan Thomas’s “Under Milk Wood.” I played several women, but my favorite was Bessie Bighead, the homely and retarded milk maid. Each night, as I called the cows, I remembered my father’s dairy cows grunting and sighing as they swayed toward the barn. One of the delights of performing is these moments- memories long forgotten and then resurrected to serve an artistic purpose.

At the Forest Storytelling Festival in nearby Port Angeles, I reunited with old friends (to my mind, one of the most important purposes of a regional festival). Together, we listened to new stories and learned new things from an amazingly eclectic group of tellers: Dan Keding,  Joy Steiner, Andy Offutt Irwin, Dayton Edwards, and Connie Regan Blake. After the festival, Connie came to Whidbey and did a performance of “Light and Shadow,” the story of her amazing trip to Uganda in 2007. The audience loved it and afterwards, I had an interview with Connie in preparation for a review of the performance for “Self, Storytelling, and Society,” the academic storytelling magazine created by the NSN Higher Education SIG. It’s been a LONG time since I’ve done academic writing and the challenge was fun and stimulating.

Now, I am looking forward to a March opening of a new family show called  “Playparty: Stories and Songs of Appalachia” (More information in “Upcoming Events”) This show will feature historical stories of the Southeast, music to sing along to and games to play and a traditional Jack Tale or two. I hope to bring some historical figures of this region to life, touch on some contemporary environmental and social issues, as well as evoke an older, simpler time. Stay tuned.

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