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         They ate the steaks… at a table, with utensils. The three of them talked and joked and relaxed. And when Chess finally leaned away from the table, one hand on his full belly, Sariel jumped up and hurried off in the direction of the freezer.
         She reappeared momentarily with the tub of ice cream, and, when the other two refused her offer of the dessert, she drew her legs up, crossing them on the chair seat, and settled the tub on her lap. And then, over the rim of the tub, she smiled up at them, looking happy and uncharacteristically shy.
         “I have a story,” she declared, and her tongue flicked out to catch a drop of ice cream on the edge of the spoon.
         Chess grinned and leaned forward, and, from the side of his vision, he saw Ileana do the same.
         “Once there was a small village, far outside of civ,” Sariel began, lowering the spoon. “This village, out in the wilderness, was fortunate because it had a good leader who had been chief there for many years. This man also had knowledge of herbs and healing that most people had forgotten,” she said, raising her chin proudly. “And, best of all, he was a storyteller, the keeper of the village history.
         “Life was precarious in the village, though,” she continued, bowing her head slightly, “and, through circumstances beyond his control, the leader found himself nearing the end of his life with only one family member left to him: a granddaughter.” She scooped another spoonful of ice cream.
         “This little girl was dear to him, and he taught her all that he knew. Well --” She smiled wryly. “At first, the only thing he managed to impart to her was his herb lore. After learning that, she began spending much of her time out in the woods, and the forest began to feel like her home.”
         “I can understand that,” Ileana added softly. Smiling, she nudged her plate toward Sariel. “You know, I think I will have some of that ice cream, after all.”
         Sariel doled out the ice cream as she talked. “Life within the village boundaries was confining,” she explained. “The forest was a place of freedom. Out there, the girl could sing and dance, and feel unrestrained. In the village, on the other hand, she always felt as if people were looking at her sideways, with dark glances.” She frowned as she slid the plate back to Ileana. “They knew she gathered herbs, and she assisted those elderly people who still came to her grandfather for healing. They knew she danced in the woods, because some had seen her. But, mostly,” she said, raising her chin, “they knew that she was not a quiet, obedient girl, and that she had no wish to join the social order and someday be a good wife.”
         Sariel sat for a moment, staring off at some distant scene, until Ileana broke into her silence.
         “The girl had knowledge that they didn’t have. She could do things they didn’t understand. And she was already showing signs that she would refuse to follow their rules. It would be human nature, then,” Ileana concluded hesitantly, “to fear her.”
         Sariel shrugged. “One day,” she continued, “The girl was gathering herbs in the woods, singing a brisk tune to herself and skipping over the rolling ground and roots of trees, when suddenly, as if he had appeared from out of the very air, her grandfather was walking beside her.
         “This made the girl happy, of course. ‘Come on, grandfather!’ she cried, ‘you can help me!’
         “He laughed as he trailed after her. ‘You seem to be in a hurry today,’ he commented, slapping at a mosquito that was hovering about his arm. ‘Why is that?’
         “The girl nodded toward his arm. ‘The insects are swarming low to the ground today,’ she answered. The afternoon was humid, and she could feel the sweat running down from her hairline.
         “‘Ah, yes,’ her grandfather agreed. He held up one hand. ‘But wait a moment, and tell me: what kind of tree is that, over there? Those leaves look like oak leaves, but they are curled.’
         “The girl squinted at him in amusement. ‘They are oak leaves, grandfather, but they are turned over,’ she answered. She looked up at the blue sky. ‘Can’t you tell that a storm is coming?’”
         Chess realized that he was holding his breath when Sariel glanced at him and raised her eyebrows. “Ice cream?” she asked.

Continued next page...


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Maybe a Bit Fishy

By then the ground at the base of the tree was blanketed with blossoms and the people had started to sing:
Leaves in the woods, call me
Oh, leaves in the woods, call me
Leaves in the woods, call me
Ever since I was small, I have danced.
- The Serpent and the Rainbow by Wade Davis

         Phew! I just took a look back at some early-on blogs and, WOW, have these sections gotten longer! Running off at the keyboard... I’m sorry about that. I will try to edit them a little more tightly, I think. Well, I’ll try!
         The story of Eve in the Garden of Eden is also an archetypal story about all women. Eve represents everything that is bad and weak about women and the story is essentially a warning not to trust the creatures. The story also provides evidence of why women should be subordinate: because they are both weak and sneaky and therefore must be watched closely. Over the centuries this one story has been used to support numerous customs and laws that limit the rights and freedoms of women.
         In historical context, the broader culture from which the story developed was apparently an extremely patriarchal society. Perhaps here, as in other mythologies, the message was created or at least interpreted to tell people how they should behave. There are also primitive mythology-type elements here. In the same way that ancient myths tried to explain why it thunders or why salmon have pinched-off tails, this story tells us why snakes have no legs, and also clarifies this significant part of life:
To the woman [the Lord] said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
- Genesis 3:16

         Well, I don’t want to end on this depressing note, but I’ll just say that there is more to say on this subject...



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