Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I am thinking of stolen light

I am also starting to understand the concept of cabin fever.
I knew something was wrong with the weather in Bowling Green when all my attempts at debunking the stereotypes of bitterly cold winters were met with a resigned "Yup, you're pretty much gonna die" on the locals' part. No one even tired to sugarcoat it for the poor foreigner. That, in hindsight, was probably a red flag.
And then the Polar-Vortex-Polarbearnado-Frozen-on-Acid hit Ohio, and we have been sitting in this weather since December. My skin is practically translucent, and I resolved to crafting. That's how serious this is, people.
In the meantime, being a storyteller, I also cannot help but find new meanings in stories I never paid much attention to before.
I am thinking of times when people didn't yet know that spring is bound to happen again, sooner or later. Times when winter and summer depended on some higher power instead of the movement of bodies in space. Times when people had no scientific fact, no guarantee, no satellite imagery and winter storm advisory to tell them the weather was going to turn for the better or worse. Times when Nature was much, much bigger in our eyes.
I am thinking of all the stories of stolen light. Tales of endless winter. Sun, Moon and Stars disappearing from the sky without explanation. Frost Giants roaming the earth. (Seriously, how come Frost Giant is not a mascot up here?) The weariness of winter dragging out with warmth and sustenance slowly leaking away. All those stories of elemental fear of the endless cold and dark are starting to take on a meaning now.
And though I know that I, a child of the 21st century, being mildly inconvenienced by having to stay in my warm and comfortable apartment for days on end is the exact definition of a FIRST WORLD PROBLEM, it did get me thinking. Maybe I am just that bored. But every time I see a portion of my repertoire of folktales in a new light, I like to take note of it.
Maybe I'll go back and take a second look at some of those tales. We tend to laugh at stories that explained solar and lunar eclipses, or even night and day though colorful imagery and symbolism, and we tend to make fun of the fears of people who stopped or started battles over a change in the skies. But can we really imagine what it would be like to not understand why the Sun suddenly goes away, or not having any knowledge on when and if it will return? Do we still have a fear tucked away somewhere in our subconscious of the day winter will never leave? Are these stories still telling us things that we need to know to endure long winters and times of darkness?
What stories do long winter nights bring to mind to you?

(In case you are interested in some of the tales I am talking about, here is a post I wrote a while ago on Storyspotting.)

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for writing this insightful and thought-provoking post. It would be a much larger struggle to not know if winter would ever end, and I think we do have that back in our subconscious somewhere . . . I think of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (always winter, never Christmas), and how Lewis played with that concept in his book. Any unending season would feel unbearable.

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