Friday, February 15, 2013

Storytelling Workshop with Tim Lowry

Recently I was among 24 storytellers who attended a storytelling workshop at the Ft. Caswell Baptist Assembly, just south of Wilmington.  Our workshop leader, Tim Lowry conducted an educational, yet fun workshop, complete with many helpful exercises and activities. 
Tim's telling of two historical stories was absolutely fascinating.  He explained that he incorporates them in his school residencies to teach students the importance of history and the understanding of history.  In addition, he emphasized how the two World Wars continue to affect our lives as they are today.  
As he told the stories he invited several of us to play the parts of various world leaders.  Each of us wore a different guise to signify the specific country we represented.  I quickly saw how this activity involving students could enhance and enliven history for the classroom.  My boring old textbooks would never have compared to learning history through lively, exciting storytelling like this. 
Another group activity involved all workshop participants.  Tim directed us to pay attention to how we use our voice by taking part in a play.  He selected a couple of acts from three plays with enough parts for everyone.  This activity demonstrated how important it is for storytellers to understand feelings of emotion portrayed in a story when performed on stage. 
The more my group practiced we began to perceive first hand the meaning of this exercise.  After each practice session I realized how we became more and more comfortable with our parts.  Each person’s speaking part was beginning to sound more and more real, as if the scene was actually happening.  The highlight came Sunday morning as our three groups took turns reading, acting and feeling the emotion of our parts in the company of the entire group.  We were amazed at how powerful each play had become. 
      When I returned home I was so inspired by the workshop that I selected two history topics and began to research them.  I’m presently researching ‘powder monkeys’ and ‘German U-Boats along North Carolina’s Outer Banks’ during World War II.
I may decide to change the focus I have in mind, but I’m having an exciting time as I work on this new material.  If the research leads me down an unintended path, this was meant to be.  My goal is to write and add two engaging stories of North Carolina history to my repertoire for use in the classroom.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Teach's Hole

     I have been intrigued with Ocracoke Island since my first trip there nearly 25 years ago.  Visiting Ocracoke is like being in another time; so quiet and peaceful in a well-preserved place.  The island is a part of the North Carolina Outer Banks.  Most of Ocracoke Island is protected as part of the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.

      On past visits, time was spent exploring the quaint little Village of Ocracoke itself.  There was no time left to explore the island; it was always time to pack up and return home again.

      After I returned again last fall, 2012, a thought suddenly hit me; “Why, this place is saturated with history.  Why wait?  Let’s get busy and explore the rich history.”  And that’s exactly what I did.  

     If I had to select the most exciting event of this trip, it would be my visit to Teach’s Hole.  “Why hadn’t I thought of doing this before?  It will happen this time,” I promised myself.  I decided to visit the well-known spot where the pirate, Blackbeard, anchored his ship, The Adventure.  And the very spot where he fought to his death.  His final battle was just beyond Ocracoke Village.  It was there Blackbeard was captured and literally lost his head thanks to Lt. Robert Maynard of the British Royal Navy.  That was nearly 300 years ago.  One legend has it that Blackbeard’s body continues to swim around the island searching for it’s head.  

      It rained several days during the time my husband, Jim, and I spent on the island.  Somehow we were constantly rearranging our plans for my much desired adventure.  Midway into our trip I announced, “We should go to Teach’s Hole today.”  Jim tried to talk me into waiting.  Intimidating black clouds were gathering overhead.  Well, I had seen similar clouds before when there was very little or no rain.  And I was anxious.  I didn’t want to delay it another day.  So off we go on foot from our motel.  To reach the entrance to Teach’s Hole we must hike through Springer’s Point Nature Preserve.   

     The entrance to Springer’s Point is at least 30 minutes or more from our motel.  And here we are!  Just as Jim takes a photo with my new camera, I felt raindrops.  He glares at me.  “Let’s go under cover beneath the bushes and trees,” I suggest.  We do, yet the drizzle continues. 

     Jim makes a suggestion, “I think we should turn around.”  I finally give in.  We turn around and head back toward the main road.  Now the rain is more than ‘just a drizzle.’  Thank goodness I carried my waterproof hooded windbreaker with me.  We hasten our pace as I wrap my windbreaker around the camera to keep it dry.  I am thinking we’ll never reach Highway 12.  Just as we do, I notice the massive black rain clouds have grown.  They cover the sky as far as I can see in every direction.  They release their holdings and I have never been so wet.  “Where is that umbrella when we need it?” I wonder.  “Well, of course!  It’s back at the motel.”

     I don‘t dare put on my hooded windbreaker.  Protecting my new camera is much more important!  Here we are in our short sleeve T-shirts, Jim in his jeans and I in my shorts.  I decided, “We can’t possibly get any wetter.”  But we do! 

     After what seems like hours, we are dodging huge water holes, even mud holes along the roadside.  Cars and bicyclers drive past.  They splash muddy rainwater into our path.  Eeeew!  Out of breath we finally reach the motel. 

     It’s two days later.  Our drenched clothes and tennis shoes are still drying out.  With a few uncertain clouds overhead, we enter Springer's Point on foot for a second time, both of us carrying a camera.

     “This is my lucky day,” I think to myself.  We are experiencing a most interesting hike through this quite peaceful forest. We see interesting little surprises along the path, a private cemetery, a blossoming bush, purple berries, even a little shell sitting on the path’s edge.  I think to my self, “Ah, here’s an interesting shell.”  Curious I lean down to pick it up.  “Yeeow!”  Its sudden movement frightens me as the little crab scurries off the path.    

     As our path nears Pamlico Sound I stop, slowly drink in the loveliness and take a photograph.  Who might imagine this peaceful area as the place where ole' Blackbeard met his demise? 

     My imagination drifts far, far away to a different time; nearly 300 years ago.  I spot Blackbeard’s ship, The Adventure, anchored just beyond this live oak forest and marsh grass.  As I stand quietly I hear the voices of Blackbeard and several ship mates as they head across the beach toward the forest.  They step on the path just beneath the protection of the beautiful live oaks.  My arms are covered in goose bumps. 

     “It’s time we step out into the clearing now,” comes a voice from behind me.  My heart stops, I catch my breath and jump.  As my feet return to the path someone taps me on the shoulder.  I realize it’s just my husband.  I return to the present time with the thrill of a lifetime.  And a new story.