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Friday, January 5, 2024

Lummis - The North Wind and the South Wind - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

What does a 16th century weather maxim and a Pueblo tale have to do with The wind, Michigan's cherry harvest, and January?

I had never heard of Thomas Naogeorgus and certainly didn't expect a  16th century " Latin dramatist, humanist, Protestant theologian, Protestant reformer, preacher and pamphleteer of the German Renaissance" to predict our weather. 

I read

‘If New Year’s Eve night, winds blow South, It betokens warmth and growth; If West, much milk, and fish in sea; If North, much cold, and storms there’ll be; If East, the trees will bear much fruit; If North-east, flea it man and brute!’ - Thomas Naogeorgus (1553). 

and decided to check it out.  I knew out west there had been monstrous ocean waves earlier in the week while our December had been roughly 10 degrees warmer & drier than average.  The weather from the west would surely be flowing our way.  On the night of New Year's Eve I checked while letting the dog out.  It was definitely a light breeze from the north.  I figured the north wind always brings Canadian cold.  

We are now much colder and those storms keep teasing us with dustings of snow and freezing drizzle where before it had been fog each night.  <SIGH!>  I guess winter could only wait so long.  

As Charles Fletcher Lummis says in his book, Pueblo Indian Folk-Stories,  "Nearly every nation has its folk-lore concerning Jack Frost and his anti-type."  I've certainly given it here before, especially Michigan's Anishinaabe versions.  This Pueblo version has an interesting twist making it a battle of two suitors.  

By rights I should save that story for the early days of spring, but the weather until this New Year was rather like that battle.  Our forsythia at times bloomed and then the blooms were frozen.  Again they began to try and return only to be stopped.  As another Michigander said, "It's going to be a tough year for the cherries."  I imagine Traverse City is already worried.  They are already planning the National Cherry Festival for June 29-July 6 (spring comes later in the northern part of the Michigan Mitten).

There's always a need for stories and even a tongue-twister:

Whether the weather be fine,
Or whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold,
Or whether the weather be hot.
We'll weather the weather,
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not!

So curl up under blankets by the fire, if here in the northern hemisphere, read on and tell stories.


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 December 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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