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Saturday, March 21, 2020

Parker - The Coming of Spring - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

The vernal equinox started in the U.S. Thursday, March 19 making it official, spring has arrived in the Northern Hemisphere with day and night roughly equal in length.  The Old Farmer's Almanac's website tells us the last time spring appeared this early was 1896, but don't get too excited, it's always either March 19, 20, or 21.  Three options, but it's also interesting that it won't happen again on March 21 until 2101.

Different people have different ways of feeling that spring has arrived in their area.

Alexas_Fotos / 21121 on Pixabay
This week I saw one in front of me.  I live near a golf course, but am not a golfer.  That course has been great for walking with my dog while winter closed it to golfers and days have been short.  Looks like I won't be able to walk it much longer as the lawns were looking green, flags were out at the holes, and the grounds crew had obviously been busy.  I guess you could switch the quote from The Field of Dreams to "If you groom it, they will come!"  Since a foursome is under the current suggested maximum of ten for social distancing, I suspect golf fanatics, known for even risking being struck by lightning, will take to the course.  Can't say for sure, but there's a snow and/or rainstorm working its way across the country.

Robins are often pointed to as a sign of spring.  Since they arrive even while snow still returns to Michigan, they're not a very reliable sign.  Michigan's first people, the Anishinaabe, also eagerly awaited spring's return to our mitten-shaped state.  Henry Rowe Schoolcraft  recorded some of those stories and the link to him here takes you to some, including one about our official state bird, the robin.

Stories travel.  The Anishinaabe tale of "Peboan and Seegwun" is such a favorite I've given it here twice!  Did our area's First People over on the western end of the Great Lakes influence the Seneca,  who were the farthest west of the eastern First People of the Iroquois Confederation.  The Seneca were located south of Lake Ontario, at the opposite, eastern end of the Great Lakes.  Did the Seneca influence our own "People of the Three Fires?"  I know the two nations weren't always friendly, but there's obvious similarity to our area's story in the tale recorded by Arthur C. Parker from Aurelia Miller one probably chilly January day in 1905 and published in his Seneca Myths & Folk Tales.  Whether you compare it to "Peboan and Seegwun" or not, I believe the imagery of the Seneca characters will stick with you because we all hope winter is ending and we are seeing "The Coming of Spring."

If you're looking for educational value, comparing the Seneca tale to "Peboan and Seegwun" is great for kids, but really that sounds like school.  Why spoil it?  Let's go back to that Old Farmer's Almanac article which asks "How Do YOU Celebrate the Vernal Equinox?" then answers it with Observe nature around you! and comes up with seven ideas to do it.

Their ideas aren't incompatible with "social distancing" and even work if you are in quarantine.  Then when spring showers (or late snows) start, come back inside and read as March is Reading Month!
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 - 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.
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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