Adventures in Storytelling

By Harriet Cole

I met my storytelling colleague Phyllis Ralley when she enrolled in the Art of Storytelling class I was teaching at South Mountain Community College. This was Phyllis’s first storytelling class, but she was already a storyteller! I loved — and was somewhat envious of — her tales of outdoor adventures, in part because my own outdoor adventures had been primarily confined to my childhood.

Some time later, Phyllis invited me to join her in telling stories at SMEEC. The theme of the event was to be folktales and stories about the moon, since the nighttime walk was to coincide with the rising of the full moon.

As storytellers, we all have our specialties. I generally tell Scandinavian material and the Scandinavians do not have a lot of stories about the moon, but I wasn’t going to let that stand in my way. I had recently told desert and night-time stories at a Mojave National Preserve Conservancy Star Party. Why not tell those stories?

We gathered that first night, storytellers and story-listeners (who were mostly related to the tellers) and agreed on a plan. We would tell a few stories on the patio while the moon rose and then we would walk along the path, stopping to tell more stories when it seemed appropriate.

There was only one problem. We knew when moon was going to rise, but we forgot that we were in a valley with a fair-sized ridge to the east. The sky grew lighter and brighter but the moon did not appear as expected.

We started along the path anyway, telling stories and more stories. The glow over the ridge spread into the sky. By this time we had realized that we had miscalculated, so we just kept telling into the moon finally did appear – in a fashion as dramatic as any of our tales.

The moon rose right behind a saguaro cactus – one of the classic ones with multiple arms. It was gorgeous.

Ever since then, those of us who were present referred to the time we told the moon into the sky. We’ll be doing it again this fall.

Care to join us?