Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Morning Reindeer

It is cold this morning, and the frost is thick on the trees and grass. In the parking garage elevator people were quiet as we rode down to the first floor.

I waited at the curb with a smartly dressed young lady. As the light light turned, we saw a pickup truck pass by us, driven by a young man with a grin on his face. Beside him sat a woman wearing gold antlers.

The girl beside me turned to me and smiled. "She was wearing antlers!"

Thank you to the girl in antlers for sending many of us into our offices with lighter hearts and a smile on our faces.
To make your own antlers, try these websites:

Kaboose.com for easy "hand" antlers

Kizclub for a cut-out pattern of realistic antlers

The BestKidsBookSite for antler patterns and a paper bag puppet pattern

Teachingheart.net has crafts like reindeer food, riddles, quizzes, reindeer facts and more.

DLTK has many reindeer, Christmas, and related crafts and coloring sheets.
Other intriguing information about reindeer:

A clip from a movie about a shamanic white reindeer is available on YouTube. I want to see this movie!

A discussion of Lapp legends that includes the reindeer is here.

We usually connect reindeer with Christmas, but in some cultures, the reindeer is both a mythical figure and a vital part of everyday life.
For a scholarly study of reindeer folktales from of the Sami tradition, visit this link.

For more information about the Saemieh, or the reindeer people (a culture that depends on the reindeer for their survival) read this fascinating site.

From the same site, information about the reindeer's food, habit, and uses by the Sami people.

Links to information about reindeer in many cultures can be found on the Rangifer Resources site.

White deer have a lot of folklore connected with them. A haunting story from New York state tells the story of Aunty Greenleaf and her white deer.

Native Americans considered white deer to be sacred and did not kill them. The Chickasaw people tell the tale of a ghostly white deer.

Over the past few years, we have seen several albino deer; sadly they never survive hunting season. Perhaps if the hunters read this poem, they would think again before taking aim on one of these beautiful white creatures.

Celtic tradition also regarded the white deer, and deer in general as having special powers. Deer were believed to be the messengers of the fairies, for example. Much more information about deer and reindeer is available here.

This is just a taste of the many stories and the folklore connected to reindeer, white deer, and deer in general. But before closing, here is one of my favorite poems:

The White-Footed Deer
by William Cullen Bryant

It was a hundred years ago,
When, by the woodland ways,
The traveller saw the wild deer drink,
Or crop the birchen sprays.

Beneath a hill, whose rocky side
O'erbrowed a grassy mead,
And fenced a cottage from the wind,
A deer was wont to feed.

She only came when on the cliffs
The evening moonlight lay,
And no man knew the secret haunts
In which she walked by day.

White were her feet, her forehead showed
A spot of silvery white,
That seemed to glimmer like a star
In autumn's hazy night.

And here, when sang the whippoorwill,
She cropped the sprouting leaves,
And here her rustling steps were heard
On still October eves.

But when the broad midsummer moon
Rose o'er that grassy lawn,
Beside the silver-footed deer
There grazed a spotted fawn.

The cottage dame forbade her son
To aim the rifle here;
"It were a sin," she said, "to harm
Or fright that friendly deer.

"This spot has been my pleasant home
Ten peaceful years and more;
And ever, when the moonlight shines,
She feeds before our door.

"The red men say that here she walked
A thousand moons ago;
They never raise the war-whoop here,
And never twang the bow.

"I love to watch her as she feeds,
And think that all is well
While such a gentle creature haunts
The place in which we dwell."

The youth obeyed, and sought for game
In forests far away,
Where, deep in silence and in moss,
The ancient woodland lay.

But once, in autumn's golden time,
He ranged the wild in vain,
Nor roused the pheasant nor the deer,
And wandered home again.

The crescent moon and crimson eve
Shone with a mingling light;
The deer, upon the grassy mead,
Was feeding full in sight.

He raised the rifle to his eye,
And from the cliffs around
A sudden echo, shrill and sharp,
Gave back its deadly sound.

Away into the neighbouring wood
The startled creature flew,
And crimson drops at morning lay
Amid the glimmering dew.

Next evening shone the waxing moon
As sweetly as before;
The deer upon the grassy mead
Was seen again no more.

But ere that crescent moon was old,
By night the red men came,
And burnt the cottage to the ground,
And slew the youth and dame.

Now woods have overgrown the mead,
And hid the cliffs from sight;
There shrieks the hovering hawk at noon,
And prowls the fox at night.


Twisted Fencepost said...

I love doing stuff like that. Don't believe me....just check out my Facebook profile pic. tee hee

Granny Sue said...

I hear you! I love seeing it, too, although I'm not one to do it myself.

I made so many reindeer crafts with kdis during my years as a lbirary branch manager that it's hard to find anything I haven't already made. I completely enjoyed doing that stuff and really miss it now. Thank god for storytelling--it keeps me in touch with kids, stories and sometimes even crafts.

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