Here We Go Again

Keri Sj janeWe’re all getting ready for new classes this week. We are planning course work and writing syllabi. We are meeting new students and giving directions around our always-under-construction campus. It some ways it is chaos, but it’s also fun to anticipate and to plan.

The spring semester sneaks up on me. Summer sort of inevitably winds down and I can feel school coming on, but the winter break is always fast and I forget to look up and see the first day approaching. I’ve written about loving the start of the term, about the strange combination of anxiety and excitement that accompanies the start of every semester. This week has brought all of those same crazy feelings, but the winter start is different: quieter and yet still abrupt.

I think the school start was made harder by the inside part of work. I skied a lot last week. Nearly every day. I looped around a mountain golf course with my dog and my mother several mornings in a row and I even played hooky with Cody one afternoon. I love Nordic skiing for lots of reasons, but I mostly chase that effortless glide. I’m not a practiced skier; I’m sure my technique is horrific and it’s rare that I complete an outing without a fall, but I love that feeling of sliding across the frozen ground. The sound of snow under skis is squeaky and rhythmic when accompanied by hard pole plants. When the snow is good – cold and fresh – it’s easy to disappear into the hard work and sunshine under the Bighorns. A good glide looks like grace even on a klutz like me.blacktooth

Coming inside maybe the hardest part of starting the winter term (fall too, now that I think about it), but it strikes me that I’m chasing the same feeling as I plan my classes. I love the optimism of planning a new semester. All of my ideas seem brilliant and shiny (like new snow). I plan for lively discussions about art and literature and change. It all looks so smooth – challenging, but rewarding and certain (on paper). Preparing for the semester is the glide – the easy, optimistic part of the year.

So we’ve all got our heads down while we plot and scheme. We are walking in to our new classes full of optimism and fire. I’ve got it all figured out – at least for now. However, I do know the uphill climb is out there waiting for me.

~ Sarah

Swedish Storytelling: Alive in the U.S.

Swedish Folk TalesRecommended Reading: Swedish Folk Tales Illustrated by John Bauer

Swedish authors are popping up in bestseller lists across the United States. Authors Jo Nesbo (The Snowman, The Leopard, and The Phantom), Stieg Larsson (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series), and Marcus Samuelsson (Yes, Chef) help put Sweden on the current US pop culture map. These books top some of my favorite candy reading, but lately, I’ve been doing some different type of reading, including Swedish folk and fairy tales.

These folktales entertain me with trolls, gnomes, princesses, and castles. Although similar to the fairytales of my youth, these tales provide a respite from predictable outcomes and cliché themes. For example, in one story titled “The Changelings,” trolls swap their baby with the newborn princess (different versions represent different socioeconomic classes). Both sets of parents attempt to love their children despite their “hideous” looks. The ending isn’t exactly what you expect, but I won’t give it away. You’ll have to read it for yourself. Despite being written for children, lively characters and beautiful illustrations captivate my imagination.

Maybe it’s because I don’t have children and I’m not reading the same story every night before bedtime, but I find these folktales interesting, playful, and a bit dark. If you’re looking for something different for you or your children, I recommend any collection of Swedish folktales; however, if you’re also interested in beautiful illustrations, then I recommend this particular book.

If you prefer a Kindle Edition, then I recommend Swedish Fairy Tales (1890) by Herman Hofberg ($1.99 Kindle Edition); however, the Kindle does not do justice to the illustrations. Instead, spend the $15 on the hardcover with illustrations by John Bauer. It’s worth the extra money.

Why am I reading classic Swedish folktales? I’m glad you asked (warning…shameless plug ahead)! Last fall, Sheridan College accepted my application for a faculty lecture for this spring. My lecture takes place this Thursday, March 21st, 7:00PM in the CTEL auditorium on campus. Although I will discuss a few of these folktales, the presentation focuses on traditional Swedish folk music. My violin tuned, my bow rosined, and my storytelling skills sharpened, I’m prepared to entertain you. So, I hope that not only will you read the recommended book, but that you’ll also attend my lecture on Thursday.

~ K

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