carpe fabula

Seize the story; tell the story; share the story!

Labor of Love: Puzzles and Presentations

Hello blog! I took a month away from you, not because I have given you up, but because I have been immersed in something much different. It was a puzzle, but not the kind that used to sit on the kitchen table or shelf at school. In some ways, I suppose those were practice tools for this adventure. Let me tell you a bit about it, and see if you’ll understand!

Since November I have had an idea percolating in my brain about holding a day long conference for my whole school, based around  the concepts of literacy and the ELA standards. I wanted my students to hear from a variety of voices about why literacy is so important to their everyday lives, and hopefully to inspire as well as entertain. Well, the concept got some roots during a few early meetings, and my passion kept growing. Could we really pull this off? It would be based on conference formats that I had attended and helped manage before, but with enough elementary twists to keep it school based and functional. I pictured an opening and closing assembly with three breakout sessions in between. With this skeleton format in hand, I began to work of filling in the faces and voices that would make the day count.

The goal was to incorporate reading, writing, storytelling, and listening skills. I had a few people on my short list, and began reaching out to them first for interest. Then I expanded my search to include local connections, teachers, and businesses. Parents came on board, and other activities merged to make for a true Read Across America celebration. As the idea starting sprouting branches and leaves, I could feel the energy in me growing. Often I am known as an idealist with concepts and procrastination as my vague tools. But this time I laid out a game plan, modified it as needed and kept the ball moving. Determination mixed with good fortune and good company has brought this whole idea into reality.

Puzzles are often built in the same fashion. Piece by piece, sometimes in spurts and sometimes left idle until a key part develops. The big picture is there, but all the pieces must come together as one. I could see the picture on the box in my head, but slowly I shared it with others and watched as they laid the pieces in place with mine.

Our School’s first ever Lit Fest will be tomorrow. There are mystery readers such as retired teachers, school board members, and parents, writers local and skyped, librarians (of course!!), and a host of skilled presenters who are sharing their time and talents with our students. We are mixing in science and math along with drama and poetry. It is a lovely mosaic of interests! The logistic concerns never seemed insurmountable; rather, they were puzzle pieces waiting to be shifted and placed. Even the last minute obstacles and switches have been manageable – mostly either because of my blind optimism or sheer luck!

The last obstacle may be the toughest to bear though. The weather forecast for today is calling for steady snowfall, followed by some light freezing rain. It could easily cover my puzzle with a blanket, making it invisible and irrelevant. I know the work that went into this project was worth it regardless, but seeing the completed puzzle would be much more fulfilling. There is no remaking the board if school is delayed or cancelled tomorrow, though I might be able to start over again next winter. Sometimes there is a delicate agony in the practice of puzzle-building.


Snow on Snow on Snow

Really the only story lately, besides Super Bowl hype, has been the weather around here. We only had half a week of school last week – two snow days and one delay. Last year seemed to be a long snowy winter, and this year is quickly matching that. However, I imagine this is no different than my perception of every winter. It is a cycle of seasons as much as it is a cycle of memories. Each year is an expanding spiral of the one before it, and the memories and images build upon one another, much like layers of snow and ice.

I enjoy the vigor and effort that comes with shoveling. This should not be confused with a joy for shoveling, as I once revealed on facebook about raking leaves and shoveling snow. I know there are times when I’m not in my happy place, and thoughts of jealousy or selfishness or fatigue and pain creep in – “why me?” I ask. Well, why not me?! I look at those around my neighborhood – snowblowers, service vehicles with plows, and plenty of shovelers among us – and I realize that this is an exercise in life, and piece of the picture, and a memory for the future. My back and arms will remind me: there is work to be done in this life, and why not me.

So, I present a poem that started dwelling in my head during the early week’s snow exercise:

the cost of a driveway

comes from your back

and the dutiful repetition

of scrapping, tossing, pushing

the white to reveal black.

My words aren’t as poetic as those favorites from snow day stories, so let me recommend a few of my favorites to warm up with after the shoveling is done (using four word book reviews!):

  1. Snowy Day – Ezra Jack Keats = timeless endless imagery exploration
  2. Snow – Uri Shulevitz = simple delightful readable prose
  3. All You Need For a Snowman – Alice Schertle = playful dialogue for storytime
  4. Calvin & Hobbes – It’s a Magical World – Bill Watterson = genius storyteller wonder humor
  5. The Question – Scott Langteau = inferring exercise for curious
  6. Brrr! – James Stevenson = exaggerated storytelling with winter
  7. Stranger in the Woods – Carl Sams II & Jean Stoick = animal action photographic fantasy
  8. Snowmen at Night – Caralyn Buehner = inventive imaginative interesting illustrations
  9. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis = world of winter broken
  10. Snow Treasure – Marie McSwigan = sledding kids versus Nazis!
  11. Snowflake Bentley – Jacqueline Briggs Martin = science behind photographic invention
  12. To Build a Fire – Jack London = young adult tragic adventure

I better stop there! Enjoy the snow, and then let it melt away and give us spring when the timing is right. If only Phil the prognosticator and weather-sayer can make it so! #sixmoreweeksofwinter


Sunday Story: Weaknesses

One of my least favorite questions to answer during interviews was always, “What is one of your weaknesses / areas for improvement, and why?” I hated it because to me it was like “tell me why you are messed up and what you will fail to do at the job!?” I know that was not the intent (I know as someone who has since asked those questions during interviews.), but the feeling it created lasts with me. Am I good enough, and can I get better? The answer to both sides should be yes!

The old coaching quote still comes back to my mind during workouts: “Sweat (or pain) is just weakness leaving the body.” It seems to imply that you are on your way to perfection while becoming an achy, drippy, stinky mess. It may be true is some areas of life, but this is one quote that I hope will stay in the gym and weight room.

In truth, it is no surprise to anyone that we all have weaknesses, that no one is perfect, and that every fault affects us in some measure. The brilliant warrior Achilles was stuck with that heel, and wouldn’t you know most people remember that phrase more than his deeds and glory. The dragon Smaug had a similar chink in his armor, but of course his intentions to use his power were more for greed than glory. In both of these cases, their downfalls stemmed from feeling invincible, which should be our first lesson. Everyone has a chink in our armor, but some stay aware of it and some try to ignore it.

Athletes are certainly victims of both ends of that spectrum. Some athletes spend the whole off season trying to improve a very specific area of perceived weakness. Endless jump shots, a new pitch, more endurance, better conditioning are signs of hard worker that can often translate to the next season. Of course, they can also lead to new faults and decreases strengths, because, as I’ve already said, attaining perfection is an endless impossibility. But the quest is where the story often lies. Those who are performing this week in the Super Bowl have already said in interviews that everything they have done since pre-season workouts was leading to this moment. Russell Wilson showed plenty of weaknesses last week in the game against Green Bay, but his strength as a leader and a teammate overcame the deficit with an amazing victory. He released those feelings in post game interviews through tears of joy, an uncommon sight in today’s composed facade of athletes.

I am no exception, and lately those weaknesses seem to be creeping up and showing their wimpy selves. Impatience, procrastination, money management are but three traits. My armor is more swiss cheese than heavy metal. I am aware of this, but often try to deflect and hide this side rather than face it, admit it, and seek to improve the issue. And here is the true point of my story I suppose. If I know that I am not perfect, and I think that others are certainly aware of those faults, how do we proceed? Shouldn’t every protagonist have something to overcome, whether external forces or internal dilemmas? Wouldn’t Hamlet have been a fairly dull boy in a crappy family except for his internal madness which drives the story? What do we do with the fault in our stars (another Shakespeare reference!)?

Let me turn to several great quotes for further inspiration:

We are all full of weakness and errors; let us mutually pardon each other our follies – it is the first law of nature.

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.

My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.

We think that forgiveness is weakness, but it’s absolutely not; it takes a very strong person to forgive.

So, I suppose to me, the theme of weakness really leads to lessons of understanding, persistence, attitude, and forgiveness. Coincidentally, this is what interviewers often look for when they ask the question that started this post. It is not in naming the fault so much as naming the lesson that goes hand in hand with that fault. My usual answer during interviews was procrastination, because I would also assure them that I worked well under pressure, never missed the deadline, and worked hard to stay ahead – all despite my imperfection. Please find forgiveness when I fail to do so. Don’t sweat the small stuff – but keep sweating in the gym (and in life) to overcome weakness!


What Do You Do With and Idea?

While watching the playoffs last weekend, this strange ad by GE came on. I haven’t seen it before or since, though I guess it has been around. The commercial got my attention for the words, though the bizarre creature certainly made me wonder what was going on. Sort of a muppet/mop/wild thing. Check it out:

The discussions that writers, innovators, inventors and (best of all) children could have with this short clip would be a valuable exercise. While the commercial is creative and takes a risk just by getting play time, it seems to make the idea look ugly and impoverished more than fragile and in need of nurture (maybe it doesn’t get much play time because it got bad screenings from focus groups? That would be a real shame.). Nevertheless, it made me think of two new-to-me picture books which are perhaps even more effective at showing the birth of an idea, especially for those open minded children.

with an idea  The first is titled What Do You Do With an Idea? The team of Kobi Yamada and Mae Brown openly explore the concepts of how ideas hatch and develop. It begins, “One day, I had an idea. “Where did it come from? Why is it here?” I wondered, “What do you do with an idea?” Brown’s art work depicts a shaded world with a child encountering a crowned golden egg, which grows and spreads color as the story continues. The child also feels some confusion, neglect, and trepidation about how to handle this Idea, but it blossoms when he pushes past those fears and gives it attention. Sure enough, it pays off, and the depiction of what happens is beautiful on many levels. A winner of the Independent Publisher Book Awards, this treasure should be used often in my school.

most magnificent  But sometimes, we should face the fact that ideas fall flat, or fail, or just fade away. It has to happen, though not in our ideal world. Ashley Spires handles that challenging concept with her wonderful style in The Most Magnificent Thing. In this case, the girl has the idea, but it’s an unseen concept. The product of that idea is what the story is really about. The girl and her trusty canine assistant gather a variety of assorted junk, but the first attempt at putting the idea into action seems… unimpressive. So they go back at it, and again, and again, until she faces frustration and anger and defeat. Then, they take a new strategy (and these are useful coping skills for adults as well as kids) which culminates in a surprising result that readers and listeners will find rewarding.

There are life lessons in these examples, but the harder part in today’s world may be allowing the ideas to come in the first place. With distractions abounding (I have looked up at the tv and my phone frequently while trying to get this post out) and ideas looking more rehashed and recycled than ever, it is hard to weed out the original and worthwhile. Finding the right setting for ideas in this chaotic and constant world is as hard as allowing it time to gestate and eventually flourish. My ideas have come and gone, often chased away by the curses of procrastination, forgetfulness, and distraction. This is the value of having a journal, or an accountable partner, or a deadline – or whatever helps push those ideas to the front and let them get attention. Find what works for you, and let me know! Let your ideas and your stories grow! And if you happen to see a weird furry creature laying in the gutter, maybe it is just your idea needing some TLC (or maybe your imagination is going wild!) Either way, dream out loud and carpe fabula!!


Sunday Story: Momentum

Every time I read the Little Engine That Could aloud to a class or a child, I always make sure to get the rhythm of the little train correct. As you can guess and should correctly read, the train begins out slow and labored as he plans to pull his load up the mountain. I     think    I    can… I   think   I   can… I  think  I can… I think I can… IthinkIcan… IthinkIcanIthinkIcan…

You get the picture. The key to this seems to be a magic word for trains and cars and runners and sports teams and writers: momentum! I won’t get into the laws of physics here (that was never a strong subject of mine). I will simply start this year as a writer, reader and observer with a healthy perspective of how to use momentum to my advantage.

As a writer, I recognize how often I procrastinate that first word, delay the first sentence, and hesitate to get out my first idea. It is a precipitous step, but a necessary danger to sharing the ideas from my head to the screen. There is joy when the IthinkIcan’s finally roll into “IthoughtIcould.” This year I hope to force myself to take many more first steps, on here and in other mediums. Because there is no doubt that I am better when I step forward more often than when I sit on my thoughts and let them languish.

As a reader, it is a joy to be on the other side of the story’s agreement (that pact is: if you write it, someone should read it!) Sadly, I will never be a fast enough reader to get through every book that I see which draws my interest or comes to me by recommendation or requirement. It never stops me from becoming a visual devourer whenever I can. I spent 30 minutes at a bookstore this week taking in books, getting ideas, sensing themes, and generally enjoying the peaceful atmosphere. That said, I am usually pretty good at using that visual memory to pull out a title or author or book cover when needed (it is a useful trick to impress teachers and kids alike!). However, I am really bad at remembering which books I read and when, so my goal this year is to take better steps on goodreads and on my wall at school to track the books I read, am reading, and want to read next. This is a Reading in the Wild habit which can not only help me become a better reader, but also become part of a reading community which I surely should find valuable.

As an observer of things around me… well, this one I need to evolve. Too often lately I have been the observer, watching what is happening in social media and the news and taking it all in. The problem is that I need to push myself to become a participant rather than a bystander. That means going beyond ‘liking’ a post or blog to actually commenting in it. Giving constructive feedback opens that two way street to dialogue rather than simply nodding as we pass by. It gives the writer something to hold onto instead of data that tallies likes and hits. And I hope people will feel free to do the same to me. That is certainly opening a risk for me – for rejection, for controversy, for unwanted arguments- but it seems that growth doesn’t happen when stagnant (unless that growth is disease or mold!). So I get some momentum going and hope it doesn’t race out of control by the time I reach the other side of the mountain. I  think  I  can… I think I can…

By the way, if you haven’t read Watty Piper’s classic text lately, look it over again. The other part of that story which I hope to emulate more often this year is the humble servant notions of that Little Engine. In the story, the load of goodies and toys beg for help to get over the mountain to be delivered to the children. But the first two capable engines that see the situation quickly put themselves above such hassle or imposition. Instead, the compassion of the Little Blue Engine makes him think about it, and that thought grows into action which leads to sacrifice which ends with reward. A little momentum may be all it takes to make a change in this world. Do you think you can? IthinkIcan!!

Onward to a great new year – Carpe Fabula!


Story Sunday: Memories

Of all the things from Harry Potter’s magical world, I am wishing more and more that I had a Pensieve. The memory collector seems more valuable to my mind than the power of a wand or spell or even the Remembrall (orb which can be sent by someone for reminders). The reason is simple, I fear more and more often that I am losing valuable and unretainable parts of my life which seemed all too easy to recall not that long ago. A clear case in point occurred last week when my wife and I were dining at the restaurant in which we held our wedding reception just two and a half years earlier. We cherished that time… but then we realized that neither of us could recall what took place after the reception and before our night together. We did something – went to a park? Time with family and the boys? Another meal?? Sadly, it is gone for now, but for the hope of a flicker of inspiration or deja vu or the help of other witnesses to reconjur the moment.

Do you see why a pensieve would be so valuable to retain those things which are too important to forget yet too easy to overlook? I know that Dumbledore himself took great care and risk to retain some of the memories which he coaxed from others. There is a risk in holding onto memories with too much emotion or power over the present and future. Another book and movie which captures this value of memories is The Giver by Lois Lowry. We watched the movie yesterday, and of course it doesn’t hold the internal impact that reading the book has, but I was struck by the imagery that the creators held as crucial to show our past. Plus, I loved the imagery of the Giver’s library home on the edge and the Receiver’s delight in absorbing books as well as memories. That whole society had shut out memories, choosing not to use their emotional impact or radical thoughts when creating a model community. I get it now even more than I did when reading it in my teens – there is a risk to memories, both painful and powerful. However, the risk of forgetting is worse.

Which brings me to a historical date today that also nearly escaped me: December 7, 1941 – the attack on Pearl Harbor. There was a great article in my newspaper this morning about the fact that the impact of this event seems to be fading as less and less witnesses survive to share their first person account. Yet, the impacts on history from this one event were huge, and lasting well into the 21st century. How many other events are slipping away, despite history networks and websites and museums? There are many minor moments that also change lives; lives as personal as our own memories.

So, with that desire to capture a time capsule, here are just a few of my Christmas memories that I don’t want to slip away:

  • One year, as we were watching Rudolph, I looked out the window and swore that I saw Santa’s team flying through the sky, blinking red light and all! It may have been an airplane crossing the sky, but I wouldn’t say it was!
  • My sister is quick to point out the year that I stalked Santa and witnessed someone else constructing a Barbie Dream House! I don’t know if she knows the crazy anticipation that I feel every Christmas Eve before and after that night. The tingles of excitement and restlessness which teased my mind to tales of fantasy and wonder. I also wish that I could take back my proud declaration, because I hold steadfast that Christmas magic and did’t wish to ruin hers.
  • On a more spiritual and sensory note, the midnight candlelight services at Old Leacock were a magic of their own. As a teen I would perform and then go carolling and then attend the last minutes of Christmas Eve with a wonderful variety of ages and believers (even Amish families). As a young adult and beyond I lived for the peace that came from the crisp air silent night. All was calm and all was well with my heart.

More? Of course! But not tonight.  My mind is full, and the pensieve will store as much as I can type into it!  Carpe Fabula – Seize the Story!


Poem: A View From Old Leacock

I mentioned my old church and it’s walls in my last post on stone fences.  This is one meditation from 1995 when I was a busy college student working all summer and in need of some respite.  Here is my poem from atop those old stone walls:

A View From Old Leacock (1995)

the world whirls

in quick traffic

slow to stop

fast to forget

easy to ignore

the wild wind

that is Godsend

and the sun setting

softly in the sky

revealing stars

to those who stay

for a while

and wait…

and rest…

and relive

the gift of God.

Story Sunday: Stone Fences

“Good fences make good neighbors.”  While I like the concept of that saying, it does bring many questions to my mind.  It also connects me to thoughts of the past … and my past … and my past weekend!  Let’s see if I can put all of these thoughts together -much like stacking those immortal stones, one upon another in a delicate, intimate, semi-permanent state.

The fences that are concerning me this week are the old stone variety.  In my mind, they served purposes for farmers and landowners to clear the land for planting while also marking their property lines.  These were not high enough for defense or protection, though perhaps high enough to enclose livestock and thwart predators.  Each wall or fence was dependant on the natural supply given to them from the earth, thus creating a mix of size, shape, and sturdiness.  That said, I must believe there is a true art to finding the pieces to each puzzle and maintaining that continuity along the full length of the wall.  I have never built one myself, but knowing those who have, I appreciate the patience and precision and hard labor which are needed.  Some brief research also helped me realize that dry stone fences are common around most parts of the world, from old British Isles to African tribes to Peruvian villages to our Eastern US.  The practice and process remains much the same, but each wall must tell a unique and sometimes ancient story.

Were I to wonder beyond the questions of why and how they would build a stone wall, I know that the moments when they were built and repaired and rebuilt must have led to many other thoughts and questions.  Ancient walls or colonial era barriers or modern man-made fences all have their place, but knowing the time period certainly adds to the lore and admiration.  Knowing who built a wall equally tells part of the story.  Was it a solo farmer trying to tame his fields?  Were entire families and neighbors engaged in the act of building the saying about good walls make good neighbors?  A community effort seems effective (and affective) to me.  However, the effort could also have happened by threat or force, as punishment.  Then that stone wall would be a symbol of shame instead of pride.  Either way, it becomes a lasting legacy.

One of my favorite stone walls is surrounding Old Leacock Presbyterian church, much as it has for over 200 years.  I do not know the exact time that the wall was built, but the church itself goes back to 1740.  The walls enclose the cemetery and most of the property except for the parking areas.  It’s a solid structure, stuccoed and cemented at some point, though chipped and exposed in several places.  As a kid, it was a great challenge or adventure to climb upon the wall and walk the circumference.  As a teen, it was the place I sat to think, refocus, or retreat.  There have been countless services, hymn-sings, picnics, Christmas Eve services, funerals, and weddings (including my parents and my own) within these walls.  This rich history humbles me every time that I am there, and I am grateful for those old stone fences.

Recently, we were traveling the Brandywine area and my wife and I kept getting drawn to the old low dry stone walls which were prevalent in fields and neighborhoods alike.  Again, I do not know their story or history, but they capture something of time and space which I cannot let go.  In fact, 100 years ago Robert Frost felt the same way.  His poem “Mending Wall” will bring this story to a close.

Mending Wall

Robert Frost, 18741963
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs.  The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
‘Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling them.
Oh, just another kind of outdoor game,
One on a side.  It comes to little more:
There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.'
Spring is the mischief in me, and I wonder
If I could put a notion in his head:
'Why do they make good neighbors?  Isn’t it
Where there are cows?  But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offense.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.'  I could say ‘Elves’ to him,
But it’s not elves exactly, and I’d rather
He said it for himself.  I see him there
Bringing a stone grasped firmly by the top
In each hand, like an old-stone savage armed.
He moves in darkness as it seems to me,
Not of woods only and the shade of trees.
He will not go behind his father’s saying,
And he likes having thought of it so well
He says again, ‘Good fences make good neighbors.'

Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award

Speaking of community, here is a fun one that I just discovered was available on youtube.  It was at Penn State, and celebrated twenty years of the award given by a great poet and supporter of children’s poetry.  I will let it speak for itself, and I find it wondrous to see how 20 years offers such great variety of verse.

PS – I love hearing Ashley Bryan present and speak!  Plus, you may find me around the 37:00 mark if you look!

Story Sunday: Community

I am guessing I am not the only one who has felt an evolving sense of community as I’ve grown older.  As a child, community is family, then school, then friends.  By high school, that sense of community among friends began changing depending on my schedule.  There were band friends, church friends, sports friends, drama friends, and class friends.  (Insert the word community for friends into each of those, because we bonded at that time and place to create more than friendship.)  Of course, my truest friends could bridge between these groups, but it was definitely a shift of mindset depending on where and when I was.  We were of different personalities and opinions but joined by similar interests, abilities, passions, and places.

Likewise, college enhanced that perspective and broaden my circles of community.  I was meeting people with stories to tell of their past, their present, and their future.  We were without family or places to escape, so the community became deeper, and often more honest and real.  I can’t say that I have felt a part of a community in the same way since.  A BIG reason for that sense was my willing participation in the college experience.  Whether attending events, games, chapel, study groups, service projects, committee groups or anything else – I was dedicating time, talent, and treasure to be part of something bigger than me.

Sadly, that has faded instead of endured over my adulthood.  Career and family seem to be the leading points of my story lately, and I have almost gone 360 degrees to my small circle of focus again.  But that is not really true, for I know what a larger community feels like and how to be in that and observe it as well.  Our town holds plenty of small town experiences which I cherish.  Our university brings in thousands of new blends for study and sport.  Our news is hit by the good, bad, and ugly of sharing that local world.  It keeps it real; it makes the story authentic – scars and all.

We had some ugly news of local teachers making the newspaper this past week.  Theft and solicitation don’t make for a safe or secure sense of community to be sure.  Rather than making me want to shelter myself and become a cynic, I actually feel more willing to reach out to others and seek to strengthen my ties.  Part of this comes from a recent sermon challenge to build up my personal community connections – actively engage, willingly participate, and intently grow.  I hope that I will not forget the intentions of my heart when I arrive at work this week.

When I thought of this topic, I did a quick brainstorm of good children’s literature which spoke to a community.  The first and best thoughts were old favorites of mine – Stone Soup and The Bremen Town Musicians.  Stone Soup comes in many cool variations nowadays, but mine was the Marcia Brown version published in 1947 (wow! it was older than I thought!).  The theme is simple, yet clever: help a stranger and help yourself.  The strangers put on a con, but the trick works to the benefit of everyone willing to step out and share.  More than that, they take curiosity, take chances, and rediscover what giving means in the process.  Definitely, a lesson which I want to pass on.

The Bremen Town Musicians is an old Grimm tale which has its own share of variations.  The key to this story is that the characters (animals who are cast out by their masters and unwanted) are bonded by a common purpose and dream (to become musicians).  Their community is forged from adversity and made real when they face down some thieves who recently acquired some treasure.  Here the fellowship is also mutually beneficial, as they get a chance to find a home and family where they had none.  Perhaps that is the catch – community should be mutually beneficial, though often in unexpected ways.  It is simple, yet clever to see that by giving time talents and treasure to build a sense of place and help out others we will be rewarded and nourished ourselves.

With thanksgiving,


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