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Showing posts from March, 2011

Celtic Blood, Cherokee Blood, and Nature's Earthly Spirits

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When I asked my redheaded Great Aunt Violet, who died many years ago but in whose western saddle I still ride, to tell me what she remembered about my paternal grandmother, she said, "Well, besides being a crack shot with a rifle, Helen was part Irish, and part Cherokee, and that wasn't a very good thing to be back then."   Aunti Vi was from the Dunton clan, my father's clan. "We have Scots blood," was the pronouncement, and I took it to mean that Scots blood was somehow superior to the Irish blood my grandfather had married into.  The Cherokee blood was rarely mentioned, and never with "princess" lineage claims.

In David M. Emmons book, Beyond the American Pale: The Irish in the West, 1845-1910, he points out interesting contrastsbetween the "wild" Catholic Irish, and the more respected Scots Irish who had been the Protestant dissenters.  And he draws interesting parallels between England's attempts to rid Ireland of the Irish, an…

Research is not a dirty word. Or: A story about an elk, an eagle, and two-hearted women

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Writing is not just about what we already know.  It's also about what we wish we knew.  At this juncture, where facts and experience meet curiosity, inspiration takes root.  Passion and our emotional connection to a story may form the heart, but research gives a story legs; it keeps the story moving forward and keeps writer and reader engaged.  Research is exploration.  It is venturing into unknown territory, and the tension created between knowing, and not knowing, like a taut rubber band, can catapult us into someplace new.

Take this elk, for instance.Large antlers serve bull elk well during the rut, when they're sparring to test strength and endurance and hopefully gather up a harem of cows. But twice this winter, my neighbors and I have seen big bulls tangle with the orange plastic mesh fencing used on construction sites. This particular bull is a member of the large herd that lives here in our mountain community, and we've all been concerned about him. "When do …