Sunday, January 16, 2011

Long Line Of Story Tellers

I come from a long line of storytellers. I suppose you could say it's in my DNA.

My mother says the reason there are so many storytellers in our family is that we come from generations of Methodists. And since Methodists considered just about everything a sin, there was precious little left for entertainment, but to sit around and tell stories. That's mother's version anyway's.

She was an Anglican.

When I was a young boy I loved our visits to my grandfather's farm in the clay belt of Temiskaming,in Northern Ontario. If it were a special occasion like haying time,or hog killing time or some major holiday, my dad and all my uncles and cousins would all be there. After the day’s work they'd all sit around the back porch, drinking beer and bringing everyone up to date on what was happening in their lives and of course ..... telling stories.

Now, the thing about good storytelling is that it leaves images into your mind that last a lifetime. I like to think that knitted together, stories form a sort of intimate family history.

My father was an excellent carpenter. He had a reputation in our area for his skill and trustworthiness.

Long after he had passed away, folks would point with pride to some of his work that had endured the years. He was, in every sense, a good man.

I have a favorite story that I've shared at family gatherings.

I recall as a boy going with my father to a lake north of Sudbury. Raising seven kids, my Dad didn't have a whole lot of leisure time. But he did love the outdoors. We had canoed out onto a big lake and decided to make camp on one of the islands. Just after dusk we heard voices coming from a neighbouring island. A group of canoeists making the trip down the Mississagi River to Lake Huron. I could tell from their voices that they were European.

My Dad was busy poking at the campfire.
“What kind of language are they speaking?” I asked.

My father kept stirring at the red coals and then without looking up, said in a matter of fact way.
“Don't know ..... but they're laughing in english.”

I have told that story a number of times.

I look at the faces around the table. Most of the younger ones have never met my Dad but by their smiles, I know that for an instant they felt a closeness to a man who 50years earlier took his ten year old boy on a fishing trip.