"Are they gone yet?"

(Are You Being Listserved?)


By Rose Owens


It is a well-known secret that as soon as those fortunate ones are on their way to National Storytelling Conference, those envious STORYTELL members who are left behind get together for a virtual campfire.  Posts about NSC usually begin in June as STORYTELL members seek roommates, travel and meal information and begin to ask when the STORYTELL swap will be and who is willing to host it.  Eventually someone starts a list of who is going.   In the weeks preceding NSC, this list slowly grows longer as STORYTELL friends look forward to meeting old friends again and making new friends.  The lure of seeing the face of an Internet friend is exciting. 


Someone not on that lucky list now offers to host the virtual party.  The setting is described and promises of virtual food are tantalizingly offered.  As July 7 draws nearer, STORYTELL members sign off one by one.  Then the whisper echoes across the Internet, “Hush. . . Have they gone yet?”  And the party begins.  Elizabeth Gibson tantalizes us with her virtual food “I’ve brought fresh homemade cinnamon rolls. Can't you smell them? Cinnabuns are nothing compared to these babies.  And I'd like to share an original story, but I'll never tell if it's true or not.  Enjoy............ “   Is her hiking story true or not?  Elizabeth won’t tell.  You’ll have to ask Sasquatch. 


Judy Schmidt provides the setting:  “And if you're looking for a setting, how about Pleasant Lake, where we have our cottage.   The old willow trees line the lakeshore with some newly planted red maples in between them.   It's a no-wake lake about   a half mile long, but pretty deep for all that.   The campfire will be on the eastern shore of the

lake and you can watch the moonlight as the wind   ripples the calm surface.  We need a little breeze to get rid of the mosquitoes.    We'll sing all the old camp songs   including a few Yiddish songs we learned from the old-timers - like Tumbalalaika and Zog Nit Keynmol.  Since Michigan is the pie-cherry capital (aka sour cherries) - I'll bring my cherry-apricot country tart.” 


            Animal stories, ghost stories and reminiscences are shared back and forth.  More virtual food arrives—marshmallows, chocolate whompers, deviled eggs, and fresh cool minted lemonade.    “One of my favorites around the campfire is "Banana Boats" says Dale W. Pepin.  “Peel and slice (lengthwise) a banana.  Sprinkle with Cinnamon and Brown sugar and/or chocolate chips. Roll up in aluminum foil and roast in the coals for about 5 minutes. YUMMY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”


            But the prize for original, unique food must surely go to Bob Kanegis.  He shared his personal recipe for smoked coot and explained, “There'll be some good eating when the smoke clears.   Catch a coot (look for those green legs) and marinate overnight with a good Marsala wine, Vidalia onions, a touch of rice wine vinegar, and Spanish smoked paprika. Then liberally dust skin with a mixture of salt, pepper and fresh crushed garlic.  Split a log--alderwood or applewood is best.  I've got both and I'll bring them.  Lash the coot to the split log.  Wait until the coals burn down to an even glow.  Set the boards at about 45 degree angle, and slowly roast the coot for about 4 hours.  Seems like a long time but it goes fast when stories are being told.  At the end of the four hours, remove the coot from the board.  Throw away the coot and eat the board.”


            “Well after yer all done pickin' the splinters out of your teeth (and tongue)” says Kimberly King,  “I reckon you'll want to eat something DEcent. Therefore I'm bringing shish kebob. Assemble your own. I've got chunks of lamb, sirloin, chicken, shrimp and fish, all marinated to roasting perfection. I've got tomatoes, onion slices; green yellow and red peppers sliced; mushrooms, baby corn, cloves of garlic, and eggplant. Hunks of lemon and lime to drizzle or roast. Everything sliced and ready to go. There's several hundred skewers in the box there. Choose your fixin's and toast on the fire.“


            The food and the stories continue.  Mark Wilson shares Aussie Bush Ballad                 (If you have ever heard Mark tell a story, you can imagine his casual stance as he laconically shares this story.)  Then Stephen Hollen shares a story.   “Well Cousins,

I have to tell you that the 4th of July in my hometown of Beloved was quite a big deal again this year.  You may have heard me tell the story of my Cousin Peanut's fried turkey a couple years back.  Seems he injected a small tom he shot with a quart of Cajun sauce and 2 gallons of the best moonshine that the hills of Appalachia ever produced . . .
. .”     Seems like that turkey went interstellar but you’d just have to hear the whole tale to believe it or unbelieve it as the case may be.

            The fire dies down as the virtual stories wind down.  Returning STORYTELL members begin sharing their reminisces of  NCC.  The virtual party is over—for this year.


(This article is based on “Conference” Thread on Storytell http://www.twu.edu/cope/slis/storytell.htm


Copyright 2005

Rose Owens


Published in Storyline (Storytelling Association of Alta California Newsletter)

Fall 2005


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