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Friday, March 18, 2022

Bain - The Origin of the Mole - Keeping the Public in Public Domain 
This Sunday is the offiffiffic'al start of Spring.  It's even starting to feel a bit like Spring in the metro Detroit area!  I like to say Spring is the time of year when a little hard work pays off in a lot of hard work later.  Living in an area where we sit on acreage, I'm not inclined to get overly worked up about having a beautiful lawn.  It's probably just as well for the sake of our area wildlife.  Our tractor is larger than a garden tractor, as those weren't up to the job of mowing the sections we mow.  When mowing it's common to find dirt tunnels made by moles.  If this was suburbia maybe that would bother me, but I'm able to have a "live and let live" attitude enjoying the rare sighting of their soft furry bodies.  (My dog has other ideas!)

Recently I introduced the Ukrainian folktales found in R. Nisbet Bain's Cossack Fairy Tales and Folk Tales, the only English language collection of Ukrainian folklore in Public Domain.  The story is small, like a mole, and I'm sure we could personify the "rich man" and the "poor man" having the "field in common" with current events.  I have more about moles after the story.


Once upon a time a rich man and a poor man had a field in common, and they sowed it with the same seed at the same time. But God prospered the poor man’s labour and made his seed to grow, but the rich man’s seed did not grow. Then the rich man claimed that part of the field where the grain had sprung up, and said to the poor man, “Look now! ’tis my seed that has prospered, and not thine!” The poor man protested, but the rich man would not listen, but said to him, “If thou wilt not believe me, then, poor man, come into the field quite early to-morrow morning, before dawn, and God shall judge betwixt us.”

Then the poor man went home. But the rich man dug a deep trench in the poor man’s part of the field and placed his son in it, and said to him, “Look now, my son; when I come hither to-morrow morning and ask whose field this is, say that it is not the poor man’s, but the rich man’s.”

Then he well covered up his son with straw, and departed to his own house.

In the morning all the people assembled together and went to the field, and the rich man cried, “Speak, O God! whose field is this, the rich man’s or the poor man’s?”

“The rich man’s, the rich man’s,” cried a voice from the midst of the field.

But the Lord Himself was among the people gathered together there, and He said, “Listen not to that voice, for the field is verily the poor man’s.”

Then the Lord told all the people how the matter went, and then He said to the son of the rich man,

“Stay where thou art, and sit beneath the earth all thy days, so long as the sun is in the sky.”

So the rich man’s son became a mole on the spot, and that is why the mole always flies the light of day.


That reminds me of the two New Testament stories of the sower and the other about weeds.  Beyond that I found two sites about moles that might help to know more about them.  Live Science tells facts about them I find more interesting than the standard Wikipedia reference given at the start of today's blog.  For those considering them pests,'s pest control section offers "How to Get Rid of Moles and Keep Them Away for Good."  I especially applaud their recommendations as being both non-poisonous and using household items.  Remember neighborhood cats, dogs, and other animals might eat a poisoned mole and also be affected.  

Now for something completely different (shades of Monty Python!) here's a site that's fun for drawing. gives more moles than just this mole and is also worth prowling for even more easy drawing.

That site might give you other animals to draw and include when you tell stories.  I hope you feel ready to Spring into action.  It's certainly the time when animals are coming back into our neighborhoods.  Let's enjoy the transition and hope Spring really is here with all the welcome changes from Winter.


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 the late 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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