Monday, November 08, 2010

Reader's Diary #663- Retold by Eugene Marckx: Raven Steals The Light

Just getting this story in under the wire. Speaking of wires...

My internet and cable has been down since last Friday. Finally getting it fixed today, the cable guy reported that it looked as if a raven had been pecking at the wires. It's an often heard excuse up here whenever the power goes out and I've sort of taken it as a catch-all for "we don't know what the %$#& happened." However, this weekend my wife had another encounter with a raven that makes me believe it. She was at the local Co-op Store, unloading the groceries from the cart into the van and the second her back was turned a raven hopped up onto the side of the cart, yanked a steak out and proceeded to eat it from the ground. It was funnier when I watched the same thing happen to a lady and her pork chops in the same parking lot the week prior.

Yes, the ravens are out to get us.

Which brings me to this week's short story. "Raven Steals The Light" is a Haida legend, though I believe many other aboriginal groups have similar stories involving a raven. This particular retelling is by Eugene Marckx.

I absolutely love the first three lines, "It was a time of darkness everywhere. People didn't know what to do. They held tight to their excuses." It just invites a parable interpretation, doesn't it?

"Raven Steals the Light" is about a Raven who avoids being eaten by his own mother by promising to bring back the light from a man who has stolen it and kept it in a box. It's also the story of how the moon, sun, and stars were created as well as how the raven became black.

Like the other aboriginal legends I've read, it's quite magical and sometimes jarringly so. There's no attempt made to explain why the raven, for instance, has the ability to transform nor any warning that it can until it happens. But it's quite easy to adapt your expectations-- if the raven can talk, why shouldn't it be able to turn itself into a hemlock needle? It's fun and no small wonder that these stories have been passed down through generations.

I love ravens and really respect their intelligence. Steal the light. Steal a pork chop. But why my internet? That just ain't right.


Anonymous said...

Birds have such an important presence in short stories and tales, it's strange.

This week, I reviewed two stories by Joyce. None of them deal with birds though, but with characters who might be stranger than birds.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

Let's just hope that the woodpeckers who are systematically eating our house and the ravens who are stealing your internet and pork chops never meet each other.

Off to read the story!

April said...

These occurrences with the ravens are just too bizarre and somehow remind me a little of Alfred Hitchcock's movie, The Birds. I have heard of seagulls stealing sandwiches, but ravens stealing steaks and pork chops is a first. WOW! This is obviously an ongoing problem. The opportunistic ravens have discovered how to get an easy meal. Talk about intelligence, not to mention theft!!

I don't have a short story for you today, but I like the Haida legends as well. The Creation Story is among my favourites.

Chrisbookarama said...

They are not that brazen here yet. Hope they don't learn that behaviour from yours. Squirrels are the excuse here. The story does sound like a funone.

Teddy Rose said...

A raven stole my vegan brownie once. I was so mad!

I read another really good one: