Valentines Day: Heather legends, Storytelling talks and sessions with adults…a great evening with Amicale
I’ve been starting to concentrate on my plant stories again, officially I’m still on maternity leave following the birth of my second lovely bundle of gorgeousness last summer. Spending my days exploring new places with the new baba…being intrigued by trysting stones, seduced by hibernating heather snow clad mountains.
But being self employed means you need to keep a hand in and a track on your admin…so I’ve carefully planned working the ten days the government says I can over the the period. Planned carefully so that I don’t miss really fantastic gigs that get offered, planned so that the few days I have gigs on, I optimise my potential (if you will!) and catch up on some admin, send a few emails, keep my hand in really.
One thing I think doesn’t really fall into the official description of ‘work’ is reading…wellit cant really can it?? I mean I read constantly and stories and plant books are my favourite…so where work begins and ends with reading is a shadow zone…I’m working on the assumption that specific reading/research for a specific job is work, general reading even if on a work subject is not.
But one job I really wanted to do, tied in beautifully with other things, a voluntary storytelling session at my daughters school and National Storytelling week…whatsmore it tied in with last years Battlefield Story spiral project http://battlefieldcommunityproject.weebly.com/ , it was a lovely piece to finish on …a special request if you will…a talk to the ladies of Amicale, a social group who meet at Langside Parish church once a month for a broad range of events, talks and activities, Margaret had come along tothe story and song element ofthe project and had asked me to give a talk to the group before I knew I was pregnant.
I love working with groups of adults, I always enjoy the fact that many of them are uncertain, not sure if they’ll enjoy the session, perturbed by the fact it may be for children, I kind of like the challenge, I want to win them round, make it interesting in some way to everyone…I’m sure it doesn’t appeal to everyone all the time…but do you know most of the time there is something, a little bit of reminiscence, a herbal tip, a childhood anecdote, a twist in a tale that appeals to most people.
I start most sessions for adults and indeed older children who may feel they’re ‘too old for stories’ with an overview of what I do a mention of how and why I started storytelling when appropriate, the surprise career aspect appeals to children one fantastic lad said this week
‘WOW that is so cool, you actually do that for a job, that’s actually a job…telling people stories….that is so cool…right that’s on my list of stuff I want to do’…with adult groups I think a personal touch a bit of biography really appeals to all of us, its interesting to find out about other people, groups of women particularly are interested to find out I took up storytelling as a way of earning a living as a single parent, a job I loved that I could achieve with my daughter by my side in the pre school years (seldom easy but a helluva good way of developing stamina and determination…and a chance for her to experience all sorts of exciting places, meet amazing people and hang out with her mum).
Then with Amicale I explained the project I’d created The Battlefield Story Spiral, they all got a copy of the wee book Caroline Campbell, groups of children and I had created for it ( for your own copy order here: http://www.botanicafabula.co.uk/blog/2013/11/28/Battlefield-Spiral-Stories-a-guide-to-the-plants-and-a-tale-or-two.aspx )
Then I told them a couple of the stories, ‘The Battlefield Marathon’ of course and I explained how some of the other stories on the project website linked in with other projects I’d worked on over the year: “Lavinia’s Lavender” for example was a very close adaptation of Lorna Irvines story for Living Voices ‘Maimie, Make Do and Mend’ which I researched further and recreated for Helen Smith’s Deeside Lavender project in Banchory http://www.helensmith.co.uk/project/art/the-lavender-project
I took herb samples along to the Amicale evening, we had fennel tea to accompany the Battlefield story and made lavender bags with some of last years harvest during ‘Lavinia’s Lavender’.
We looked through the scrapbook I created for the Living Voices project, talked about creative writing using the stone soup well that features in the spiral…I shared books and props and I had some fascinating chats about peoples experiences of working with children or remembering stories.
This is how I loosely justify the Trysting stone, that old Scottish meeting place, a meeting place for everyone, but a place, a word, that will always conjure up an image of lovers…
You see one lady from Amicale shared a lovely funny story of how she’d met her husband brought to mind as she spotted the photos in my scrapbook of Glasgow’s Barrowland’s and the picture of dancing in the ballroom, I asked her if I could share it and this is why I decided to make this my Valentine’s day blog…
She told me how her husband had asked her to dance and she’d agreed, he’d walked her home, week after week they danced and walked, romance had grown, but all by accident…he’d asked her by accident, a very very fortunate accident, they’ve had a long and happy marriage…however her husband to be, had spent weeks previously asking another girl to dance before meeting her, but this other lass had always turned him down and when he’d asked her this
one week he had in actual fact mistaken her for the unobtainable one. A very happy accident indeed…some things are maybe just meant to be!
And those soon to be heather clad mountains?
Well I thought for a brief midnight glance at true love I’d share the ancient legend behind Scotland’s national aphrodisiac, the subtle fragrance of our lucky woody wee herb
Legend has it that in the 3rd Century, the thoughtful and kind hearted daughter of Ossian: Scotland’s legendary blind bard: Malvina , was betrothed to a heroic and just warrior named Oscar.Tragically however Oscar died in battle, and upon hearing the news Malvina was left bereft and heartbroken. The messenger who brought the bad news, also delivered a spray of beautiful purple heather that Oscar had sent as a final token of his undying love for her.It’s said that when Malvinas’ tears fell onto the flowers in her hand, the Ling turned white as the snow, so astonished was she at this magic that she gifted the heather this wish: ‘although it is the symbol of my sorrow, may the white heather bring good fortune to all who find it.’ adaptation (c) Amanda Edmiston
Traditionally white heather or Ling has of course been associated with bringing good luck to those that carry it, now whether or not this is true I could not say…but if you find some and only take a small piece maybe you could try it out and let me know, I’d love to hear some ‘lucky heather’ love stories of your own. As a footnote the charming friendly ladies of Amicale, said lots of nice things, they had really enjoyed the evening and yes, some of them had not expected to!
After that I’m really looking forward to being back at work full time…this time although no longer a single mum but with a brilliant, kind, lovely man by my side I will no doubt once again quite often be working with a baby on one hip, but then stories are quite obviously something we need throughout our lives so we might as well start learning them early…as we will, ( I think the ladies from Amicale would agree!) never stop needing them!