The 22nd annual Winter Stories at UNC-Chapel Hill was another rousing success. Children of all ages – and I mean ALL ages – showed up to hear stories, sing songs, eat candy and cookies, drink hot chocolate, and otherwise share time together as part of this wonderful community. The storytellers were “awesome” (to quote one young listener). Mark riddle told a Lenni Lenape tale about how Rainbow Crow helped warm the earth and melt the snow by obtaining fire, but in the process, lost his beautiful singing voice and charred all of his rainbow feathers black; however, if you look closely at a crow’s feathers in the sunlight, they still shimmer with all of the colors of the rainbow, his reward for his bravery and self-sacrifice. Sarah Beth Nelson shared a story about Boreas, the North Wind, and how we desperately wanted to marry Oreithyia, but she wanted nothing to do with him. He showed all of his power as he tried to impress her, but what impressed her the most was when he learned some humility and asked her to marry him, instead of demanding it. After a sing-along interlude, Brian Sturm and Jenny Parks (on Celtic harp) shared a story about the Cailleach, the winter hag of Scotland, and how she ruled over the land from the mountain of Ben Nevis. She captured Springtime and wouldn’t let her marry Summer, but eventually the two found each other and overthrew the Cailleach so warmth could return to the land. But only for a while, for she regains her strength and covers the mountains with her snowy fleece each year, warming people to put on their warm clothes and huddle by their fires until Spring and Summer can return. Amy Sayle then told a Native American Alutiiq story about the Girl Who Married the Moon by being able to keep her eyes closed for the entire journey to the sky world; but once there, she quickly got bored and went exploring. She found people lying face down and peering through holes in the ground with shining masks on their faces (stars), and then she went to the forbidden area of the moon’s home and found his moon masks. When he discovered her, he came to understand that she needed a purpose in the sky world, so the two of them shared the moon’s cycle.
A special thank you to the musicians: Michael Chen (violin), Heather Maneiro (voice), Jenny Parks (Celtic harp), and Emily Vardell (oboe), who delighted the audience with introductory music and sing-along accompaniment. Also a heart-felt thank you to the folks behind the scenes who make this event possible each year: Liza Terll and Tanya Fortner. You two are the best!