I knew an old man long ago, with leather-like skin, who would dip his fingers into a tin of Copenhagen snuff and then, with unwashed fingers, gingerly stuff a large pinch of it into a toothless mouth already overflowing with dark brown, runny tobacco juice. He drank porter each day, at least a pint, sometimes two, when booboos acquired long ago came around to bite him. Every four or five days he would saunter up to the tavern and purchase his porter, six bottles at a time, brewed by John Molson, nothing but the best.
There was another old fellow I knew as a child who had drawn his first breath somewhere around 1880. The poor man had been born with a cleft palate that denied him the ability to speak with clarity. All he said sounded the same. One would hardly know what language he was speaking, so strange were the utterances which emerged from his mouth at times when he desperately tried to communicate something to another human being. But he was a man who believed in the great power of prayer. He was confident that in the spirit world his prayers were heard with the beauty and eloquence he had attached to them through the humility and sincerity of his spirit.
As a storyteller I know with all certainty that these men, long dead now, will find life afresh in a story I will write in the future. They are just too remarkable and interesting for them not be allowed to help change the life, for the better, of someone in pain today. The forest too tells many an interesting story; every tree and rock found there has a teaching to share. I know many of them. I have countless more to discover in the future, and to write about and share at storyteller seminars.
I hope you can join me at Singing Pebble Books on Saturday, March 16 at 3pm. I will have stories and poetry to recount, and will share my recent experiences working with aboriginal offenders at Millhaven prison, such as setting up a “Harmony Circle” to increase intercultural understanding and reduce violence and tension there. My books will also be on sale. Admission is $10. Get your tickets in advance at Singing Pebble, 613.230.9165, space is very limited. There will be time for a good discussion together after the storytelling and poetry.
Ticket and book sales assist me with costs connected to running my blog. I am computer-illiterate and therefore must hire an assistant to help out with the technical details! Migwech to all who support my blogs.