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Saturday, May 5, 2018

Mooney - How the Redbird Got His Color - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

This week we've had the dubious pleasure of being the only power outage in our neighborhood, not once, but twice.  We came home Wednesday night to a dark house and figured the storm had blown out power somewhere.  Thursday we found out we were the only ones affected and figured that put us low on the priority list for DTE Energy.  I just hoped our freezer contents survived the delay.  Thursday evening before dark two DTE trucks and several men came up our long hill to inspect.  With a certain amount of difficulty, but experienced skill, they maneuvered an incredibly long extension pole up our power pole and through a tree that straddles that pole.  SUCCESS!

We figured that was the end of it except for their sending a tree trimmer out to once again trim back that tree.  It's the same tree or power pole that annually attracts a mockingbird to sit up there and perform a concert of all the songs the bird has learned.  I hope this won't lose the bird, but want power even more than the birdsong.

Supper was better than previous attempts without power.  Life was good, then BANG!!!  I remembered the DTE representative asked if there had been a loud bang or pop and I had been unable to answer because the Wednesday outage happened while we were away.  There was no mistaking what we heard Thursday night, however, and we figured those branches had again hit our transformer.  Called in a new power outage and the automated message, just like Wednesday night, guesstimated power would be restored by 2:30 a.m.  Yeahyeah I thought and, after unplugging items as the message advised, went to bed.  

At about 1:30 in the wee hours of the morning DTE returned.  They cut down a section of the tree big
This is NOT our raccoon, but a photo by Marcel on Stocksy
enough to be a young tree, but still leaving plenty of tree.  Out with the big long pole and down comes a body.  This time the source of our problems turned out to be a RACCOON!  He was huge, but all those warnings about not touching power sources must never have reached the Raccoon Network.  The poor fellow was minus his ears and tail.  That tail was on the ground, well burnt.  We can't swear it was this fellow on Wednesday night, but bet it was him and he was luckier on Wednesday than on Thursday night.

We're high up on a hill and the wind of the past few days and today have been strong, but I'm betting and hoping our dead raccoon ends our current power outages.  We do have high wind advisories for our county and the wind loves our hilltop.  I'm just grateful it didn't last too long and also came in warmer weather.  I've lost a very full aquarium of tropical fish in past outages, but this time it was both brief enough and warm enough that I see the dark helped add a large school of baby fish -- large enough to open a baby fish school district.  

In honor of our dead raccoon I went looking for a good raccoon story and happily found this brief Cherokee tale collected by James Mooney in his Myths of the Cherokee.  It captures the rascal nature of raccoons and their tendency to climb trees, while giving an interesting pourquois tale about another creature I enjoy.

That "Redbird" is indeed the "northern cardinal."  Coming from Saint Louis, home of the baseball Cardinals and, when I was growing up, still was the home of the football Cardinals, it's a natural that I love those birds.  We get a few to brighten up winter, but here's a screenshot from Voices and Vocabularies of a cardinal duet explaining more about their song.  If you go to that link, you can hear it, too, as well as discover a site dedicated to birds and the environment.

As I write this, 260,000 in our area have lost power because of wind damage on Friday and they expect to be out until Sunday evening.  For their sake, I pray it's sooner.  Hopefully my own power continues as otherwise there was no way I could bring today's story to you even if I went and borrowed a library computer. 

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!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown -
         - Richard Martin -
         - Spirit of Trees -
         - Story-Lovers - is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at .  It's not easy, but go to snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - 
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin -  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a., when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!

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