Stories from My Grandfather – Why the Flowers Grow

WHAT’S PLAYING: Smilez and Southstar “Tell Me

Long ago, when the world was young, there was a beautiful star named Bright Eyes, and she was the brightest star in all the heavens. After many years, another star entered the sky and hid Bright Eyes from view. This made her sad because people could not see her face.

So she called to her sisters, saying, “Come, let us go down to Earth where we can live with the people and make them happy. The new star has hidden my light and the sky does not need us any longer.”

ChoctawBelle

On their way to Earth, Bright Eyes and her sisters stopped on Mount Joy where Uncta, the Great Bronze Spider, lived and spun the finest webs. The maidens begged the Spider God to teach them to spin and weave, and he agreed. Soon, they were able to spin beautiful threads and weave them into fine cloth.

One day, Bright Eyes decided that it was time for her and her sisters to continue on their journey, and she turned to Uncta for help.

“Will you help us get to Earth?” she asked the Spider God. “We want to teach the people how to spin and weave.”

Uncta was sad to see the sisters go, but he knew that they would bring much joy to the people of earth. He wove a basket and used it to lower them to Earth.

star-nation-julie-jensen-aka-jray

When Bright Eyes and her sisters landed, they became the Little Folk. They lived in the forest, working, dancing and playing. They taught the Choctaw how to make bright colors and use them in weaving their rugs and blankets. The Choctaw loved the Little Folk who helped them and Bright Eyes was happy again.

Whenever one of the Choctaw was sick, Bright Eyes and her sisters would go into the forest and pray to the Great Spirit to protect them. They told the people to pray to the Great Spirit as well.

All of the prayers went up to Sandlephone, who sat on a great ladder high in the sky. As soon as the prayers had come into his hands, they changed into lovely flowers. He closed the blossoms and dropped the seeds upon the earth while the perfume wafted on up to the Great Spirit.

crape-choctaw

The Little Folk cared for the seeds as they fell and from them sprang the wild flowers. This is why the Choctaw do not pick flowers.

They are tokens of love from the Great Spirit.

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Book Review – The Innkeeper’s Song by Peter S. Beagle

WHAT’S PLAYING: Robbie RobertsonGhost Dance

the innkeeper's song

When three strange women (one black, one brown, one white) arrive at a wayside inn called The Gaff and Slasher, Karsh, the innkeeper, takes them in against his better judgment. Two of the women—Lal and Nyateneri—are searching for their former mentor, a powerful magician who has summoned them to save him from destruction and worse at the hands of his most powerful pupil, Arshadin. The third, Lukassa, is a village girl whom Lal resurrected after she drowned and whose childhood love, Tikat, pursues the three, intent on regaining her. When these blighted souls converge on the inn, life there is forever changed as powerful forces wage ungodly battle for possession of the magician’s soul.

I first came across The Innkeeper’s Song ten years ago, and it’s still one of my favorite fantasy novels. Beagle is a masterful stylist, his narrative full of wonderful, unexpected metaphors and fierce musicality. There is poetry in this book few writers can manage, full of things left unsaid and subtle inferences. All of this comes together to weave a compelling story that is impossible to put down.   

Told from various points of view, The Innkeeper’s Song is a multi-faceted fantasy, not just one tale, but several woven together seamlessly, flowing in and out of stream-of-consciousness. Hard to fathom, I know, but it works brilliantly because Beagle is a master of characterization. There is never any doubt who is talking, even when the differences are subtle.

In elegant yet simple prose, Beagle plumbs the nature of life, death and love by illuminating the shifting relationships among the various major and minor players (including an irascible shape-changing fox) who people this affecting tale.

 

Favorite Line/Image: My name is Karsh. I am not a bad man.

I am not a particularly good one, either, though honest enough in my trade. Nor am I at all brave—if I were, I would be some kind of soldier or sailor. And if I could write even such a song as that nonsense about those three women which someone has put my name to, why, then I would be a songwriter, a bard, since I would certainly be fit for nothing else. But what I am fit for is what I am, everything I am. Karsh the innkeeper. Fat Karsh.

They talk foolishness about me now, since those women were here. Since that song. Now I am all mystery, a man from nowhere; now I am indeed supposed to have been a soldier, to have traveled the world, seen terrible things, done terrible things, changed my name and my life to hide from my past. Foolishness. I am Karsh the innkeeper, like my father, like his father, and the only other country I have ever seen is the farmland around Sharan-Zek, where I was born. But I have lived here for almost forty years, and run the Gaff and Slasher for thirty, and they know that, every one of them. Foolishness.

Bottom Line: A fantasy masterpiece that has withstood the test of time, The Innkeeper’s Song is not to be missed.

Coming up next: The Peculiar by Stephen Bachman