Where I grew up in New England the Indigenous people who lived there had a wonderful tradition in the winter. It was sometimes called the "time of the longhouse", because with the winter months bringing cold weather and snow many of the local native people spent a good amount of time inside their longhouses in community. It was a time to work together on making new clothes, tools, and weapons. And one of the most anticipated events during this time at least for children, and I would suspect adults, was the telling of stories. In some New England tribes stories were not told until after the first great frost so that the animals would not be distracted from gathering food for the winter because they wanted to hear the stories. Being indoors a lot more in the winter makes a perfect setting for stories.
Sharing stories with family members and friends can be a wonderful experience. And there are plenty of resources to use that also allow you to inspire young and old alike about the natural world around us. A couple of great resources for nature based stories to share together are:
Earth Child-games, stories, activities, experiments & ideas about living lightly on Planet Earth. By Kathryn Sheehan.
Gaia Girls: Enter the Earth. By Lee Welles.
Keepers of the Earth. By Michael Caduto and Joseph Bruchac.
My Side of the Mountain. By Jean Craighead George.
While reading stories to kids and adults is a great way to spend time together and even learning some things about nature, making your own stories can be even better. Create some stories about what animals do during the winter, a child wandering in the woods in winter (like in My side of the Mountain), a story about a group of migrating geese, or anything that catches your interest while on a walk outside.
Another great way to experience stories is through song. Listen to some fun music and listen to the stories that are told in them. I had a WONDERFUL experience hearing a talk by Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul, and Mary last month at a conference and he talked about the power of song to build community. Here are a few musicians who have some great nature based music to listen to on a cold day while drinking hot coco!
Banana Slug String Band.
I hope you are getting to be outside just a little this winter. And there are times when enough is enough of the snow! As my friend Jessica who lives near Boston said, going outside with 4' of snow being covered in ice pellets is a little much today. But what a great time to stay inside and listen to some good nature music and tell stories. Until next time, keep exploring the world around you.