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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Van Dyke - Handful of Clay - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

I'm trying to regain flexibility and strength in my dominant hand and wrist after breaking it for the second year in a row!  That includes therapy.  Hand therapy falls under the category of "occupational" therapy.  It's certainly true for me as I once again will be teaching American Sign Language, to say nothing of the pain typing for two of my fingers.  I remember the stab of pain as I signed "bad" -- OUCH! it was.  On the wall is a sign telling me April is National Occupational Therapy Month.
found on by OT Month booster, Jardim Secreto Love

O.k. I'm not about to bake a cake for this, but went looking for a Public Domain story about hands or sign language and today's story, by serendipitous searching is most appropriate.  How?  Wait and see.

Back on December 24, 2014 I said: By the way, Henry Van Dyke wrote a lovely story of the Fourth Wise Man.  It's too long (50 pages) for me to post in my Keeping the Public in Public Domain, but I recommend it heartily.  The novella, The Story of the Other Wise Man, can be found at Project Gutenberg.  I first heard it told as an entire program by an Indiana storyteller who has gone to tell stories in the hereafter.  I've forgotten his name, but definitely not the story.

Because of that storyteller's program, when I found The Blue Flower, which contained the story, I bought it and after that two other Van Dyke books.  Authors talk about missing the day when publishing was a gentlemen's business.  Scribner is an old firm started in 1846.  It's now part of a conglomeration of major publishers, but look at how lovely this embossed cover is.  The contents are just as lovingly handled, as are the other books from Scribner.

The book not only has "The Story of the Other Wise Man", but ends with another Christmas story that was also quite popular, "The First Christmas-Tree."  Almost all but the title story, which Van Dyke says is from the German poet and philosopher, Novalis, are too long for a single post here, but the story I've chosen for today. It is definitely not a Christmas tale. I'll say more in a bit, but will say it, too, has been very popular both back in the early 20th century and on the internet.  As I read it I thought I might know where it was heading, but . . .
This photo came from Father Julian's Blog -- brief history of the Easter Lily
Definitely a story to think about as you claim your Easter lily, or garden, or enjoy Earth Day, which is today and also fits today's story.  Some pots still are clay, a substance that can be recycled although once that clay is fired into pottery it gets more difficult.  Try these ideas to recycle broken pottery.  Often the starts for plants come in recycled plastic and those, too, can be recycled, frequently at gardening centers.  Here's a link to an article called "How to Recycle Anything" dating back to 2013.  I notice it wasn't covering things like the larger decorative resin pots that sometimes look like clay.  Whether it be resin lawn furniture or pots, it's a bit more challenging as types of plastic don't mix well in the recycling process.  It's a bit more difficult, but try online searching using terms like recycle broken resin and other words describing what needs recycling.  For a general explanation and ideas (beyond even its title as the 5th way includes 9 more ways!) look at "5 Ways to Recycle Plastic."  At the article's end there are other articles listed for still more recycling.

But I'm not completely ready to leave "A Handful of Clay."  Looking further, I'm not the only one to think highly of this story.  While preparing this I found two other bloggers who were similarly taken with the story when they, too, dug it up after all this time.  (Alright, I couldn't resist the pun, but both Lee Enry Erickson and Sue Bertolini-Fox couldn't resist the story once they read it.)  Back in the early 20th century the story was popular with many school reader anthologies and even Anna M. Lütkenhaus for New York City Public Schools included it in Plays for School Children (1915), with ideas you may want to use in presenting it.  (That hotlink is a free Google eBook.)  Additionally Tesolman Reading Center, which uses public domain short stories in its goal of "walking you from being a good reader to a good writer"offers study questions related to this story.  The Baldwin Project is an online homeschooling and teaching resource serving as a "Gateway to the Classics."   Their site gives The Blue Flower 's entire text including this story.  You can also find it on YouTube, but it's just the text given in what I find are annoying chunks along with a narration that sounds like the Kurzweil Reader machine text to speech reader software for Dyslexia, English Language Learners, and the Blind and Vision Impaired.  (If you want to hear it, I'd be more inclined to suggest trying The Blue Flower by Henry Van Dyke on LibriVox.)

As I mentioned earlier, The Blue Flower contains some gems, but they're all too long to reprint here unless I break them up and take several posts.  I have another book by Van Dyke that isn't yet online and is specifically his short stories.  I have a plan to give at least one rather witty "parable" from it in June along with information on the author.  He puzzled me a bit and . . . well, as you probably can guess it led to a bit more research.
Here's my closing for days when I have a story in Keeping the Public in Public Domain

This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  

At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it. 

Other Public Domain story resources I recommend -
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key.
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.
Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!

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