The Story Walker

Kathleen Gill, the Story WalkerLong ago storytellers used to travel from place to place, telling and learning stories everywhere they went.  Come to think of it, they still do. But of all the storytellers I know, few travel quite like  Kathleen Gill, who’ll be the featured teller this month at storytelling open mic. (June 14th, 7 pm, at Caffè Lena in Saratoga, NY.)  Kathleen is an ardent hiker with a passion and a knack for sharing stories along the way. And it seems there are few trails she hasn’t followed.
When I mention Plaster Rock, New Brunswick, Canada, near the potato farm where my family had lived for generations, Kathleen replies, “Sure, great place.  I went to a fantastic fiddling festival there when I hiked the international Applachian trail.”  [A fiddling festival?  Who knew?] Believe me, if ever a place was off the beaten track, it’s Plaster Rock.  Think Cariboo, Maine.  Now head north.
When I mention heavy World War I casualties in Newfoundland, Kathleen jumps into the story of the night that the lights went out in St. Johns. Men went from house to house to tell families that 684 of their young men, 91% of all the Newfoundlanders asked to “go over the top” that day had died. It was in July of 1916 at the battle of the Somme. She heard that story hiking in Newfoundland.
Over several summers, Kathleen hiked the length of the Appalachian Trail–then wrote a book about it, Story Walking the Appalachian Trail. Look for it; it’s a good read.
Lately Kathleen has been coping with some major health issues.  For now, she’s limited in what she can do.  But amazingly, she tells me she still finds ways to go hiking.
I don’t know if she’ll tell hiking stories on June 14th.  Her repertoire is rich. But I know I’ll be there. If you’re in the area, why don’t you come too?

Saratoga Storytelling Open Mic
June 14th, at 7 pm at Caffè Lena, Saratoga, NY

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Changing reality, one story at a time

This week I’ve been working on a story about a blacksmith and his wife who invited my family to a farewell dinner when we moved away from Calgary, Alberta. They served us a strange and wonderful meal. The story is for a program I’m doing on May 1oth with Betty Cassidy, another Saratoga storyteller, of stories about the 1950s and 60s. It occurred to me, as I thought about that bizarre meal and my parents’ unexpected response to it, that some of my notions about my parents must have been wrong. My parents would not have been friends with this couple if they had been as uptight as I remember them. They would not have handled the situation with such (relative) aplomb.

Maybe it’s time for me to adjust my reality yet again.  I’m pretty comfortable with a few solid facts.  2 + 2 most always equals 4. Gravity still seems to be in working order. Probably.  But most everything else seems forever to shift depending on my point of view. The older I get, the more I’m convinced that I’m sure of nothing. And the more comfortable I am with this uncertainty.  Oh well.

In this blog, I’ll write mostly about my storytelling, which I love with a passion.  And because my storytelling is always about my trying to figure out the people in my life and this shifting thing we call reality, I’ll write about them too.

Margaret