We are pleased to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/). The Story Crossroads theme for this year is Hope & Healing…folktales around the world that beat back viruses. Each post highlights one or more balms to soothe and cure our struggles of today with oral tradition and lore of the past. At times, a post will make a connection to history. You can guess what inspired this theme. Yes, the COVID-19. What better time to delve into tales where things can and do turn out “happily ever after”?
Fences that Fix-
If you only had a few days to live, having a strong and sturdy fence would not matter so much. Yet, it is about always doing your best no matter how long you have left. Within this Russian tale “Why People don’t know when They are going to Die,” the fence takes on another meaning that can be healing to our souls in how we approach life.
People knew when they would die. Man knew he’d die in three days. Man built rickety fence. Person walked by. Person urged to at least build strong fence for those in the future. Three days. Man lives. Two years, man lives. Man rebuilt strong fence. Person walked by (really God). Decided best people don’t know when they die.
Version of Why People don’t know when They are going to Die story: https://books.google.com/books?id=sn0YDQAAQBAJ&pg=PT111&lpg=PT111&dq=folktale+fence&source=bl&ots=h-yFqd5UN2&sig=ACfU3U0sHGHtOEF3IvF0mbtUU53zW80tfA&hl=en&ppis=_c&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiRvoL6h9XoAhWZHc0KHU5IC70Q6AEwD3oECAwQKA#v=onepage&q=folktale%20fence&f=false
Compare to History:
Many guides have been written to give people comfort as loved ones approach death. Though, the day of death remains a mystery. Sue Brayne and Dr. Peter Fenwick created the manual “Nearing the End of Life: a guide for relatives and friends of the dying” in 2008. Throughout this manual are fascinating quotes on death for each section. The quote that caught my eye was stated by Dr. Sherwin Nuland, “Death is not usually a time of wonderful experiences. But it is frequently a time for healing experiences.” I think of the man building a rickety versus a strong fence. That was a healing experience.
More on the History: https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/docs/default-source/members/sigs/spirituality-spsig/spirituality-special-interest-group-publications-fenwick-nearing-the-end-of-life-guide.pdf?sfvrsn=ef164fa6_2
From Mississippi/Faulkner Family-
Jim Faulkner shared stories of his family including the famous American author William Faulkner. Though, the percentage of true versus…non-true stories is questionable as he liked to share family memories, tall tales, and fictionalized history in Mississippi. In the book “Across the Creek: Faulkner Family Stories,” the chapter called “Roasting Black Buster” Has a folkloric moment featuring Dolly and a seasoned man nicknamed Lightning on account of his lack of speed. Variants have been told by people in Kansas. This is more of healing of the land than of people.
Dolly grew garden with “Lightning.” No rain for days. Snake near Lightning. Dolly requested he kill snake. Done. Dolly requested snake hung on fence vertically belly-side up as will rain within three days. No rain. Day two. No rain. Day three…late. Thunderstorm! Smaller snake for next time. Successful harvest!
Finding the Story: https://books.google.com/books?id=xKZySWbnMOQC&pg=PA6&lpg=PA6&dq=snakes+belly+side+up+fence&source=bl&ots=mn-SYEWKDP&sig=ACfU3U2e1cRI17vVRYoTUUjXdo691YdW2A&hl=en&ppis=_c&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjs5JuEwNXoAhVKZc0KHZE2CS8Q6AEwE3oECA0QKA#v=onepage&q=snakes%20belly%20side%20up%20fence&f=false
Compare to History:
Before barbed wire fences existed in 1874, people in Kansas believed the power of snakes on any kind of fence to bring rain and heal the land for the crops. Laying a snake horizontal would have the snake twist too much through rigor mortis. Then, the power of the snake would be lost. Thousands of snakes came to this vertical belly-up fate on fences. A Bohemian farmer swore by this act as did so many others. The skies themselves did not always send rain within three days.
More on the History: http://www.legendsofkansas.com/folklore.html
Please share in the comments…or anything on your mind.While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings in process of being adapted due to COVID-19. Our postponed Festival is now scheduled for May 12, 2021 with other plans that can be seen here: https://storycrossroads.org/contingency-plans-covid-19/ or http://www.storycrossroads.org/virtual.
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