July 18, 2021
Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories. Listening for them is something more acute than listening to them. I suppose it’s an early form of participation in what goes on. Listening children know stories are there. When their elders sit and begin, children are just waiting and hoping for one to come out, like a mouse from its hole.
— Eudora Welty, short story writer
Here is a storytelling idea that I developed with my youngest son recently as we have been walking around the neighborhood. It’s simple: the people and things we see on our walk shape the story as we go along. They can be stand-alone stories, or stories that are built upon later, too. Here is one story from our “collection”:
There was once a little boy who lived with his family of seven in a house on a lively street in a lively little neighborhood. Often he took walks with his family to explore. Sometimes it was with his mama, just the two of them. They liked to walk down each street, this way and that, admiring the houses and yards. He liked a house down the block that was navy blue with a bright green door. His mama loved the houses with lots of garden beds. They enjoyed taking turns pointing out these beautiful spaces. Sometimes the houses and gardens would give them marvelous ideas for their own home.
One day, they walked up the street and around two corners to see a giant strawberry patch! It was planted between the sidewalk and the street. “What a great idea!” exclaimed his mama. “I want to plant strawberries, too,” said the little boy. And so it was settled, when they got home they made plans to build their own strawberry beds.
They discussed the idea with his Papaw, who was a woodworker. He rather liked the idea, but most of all he liked to do things that made his family happy, and so he agreed to help. It was hard work digging out the soil in the yard and picking out the grass. It was hard work measuring and cutting the wood, and assembling the boxes. It was also hard work filling them with compost and soil. It was quite satisfying to plant the strawberries, but it was the hardest of all for the little boy to wait the whole long time to have strawberries for harvest.
But, boy oh boy, was he lucky! Even though his mama said they may not get many that first year, he picked bowlfuls of those juicy red berries. Everyone in their family of seven delighted in the strawberries they grew in their very own patch at their house on a lively street in a lively little neighborhood.
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