Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Poets, Writers and Storytellers New Year: Sharing Winter Joys

Storyteller, writer, poet and educator Gail Froyen lives in Iowa, a place gifted with winter snows and cold. She shares her thoughts about where she lives and the turning of the year in today's post. 

New Year’s Resolutions—I DO NOT make any. For a few years earlier in my life, I gave it a try. Never lasted. 

Some years ago I discovered “A Testament” by Anthony de Mello SJ and started using this list to reflect on my life. I review and amend this once or twice a year, on my birthday in August and/or around the beginning of a new year. I love the way the testament begins with “Things I have loved in life” followed by I have love to taste, to look at, to smell, to hear, to feel or touch. 

Thinking winter things I have loved in life, about the coming year and winter in Iowa brought me to this.

Sharing winter joys

crisp winter air
           Snow falling on pines
                      landing on my cheeks and tongue

soft silence after a winter snow
            the crunch of boots

wood and wax burning
           flames flickering and dancing
                       in fireplaces or candles

cinnamon on oatmeal
            or drifting from the oven

silence the moment before the conductor’s downbeat
             music filling the air
                        bells chiming

hope springing


About Gail Froyen:

A native Iowan Gail was born in Sioux City, the youngest of six daughters. The family moved to Des Moines and she graduated from North Des Moines High School. Her next Iowa stop was Cedar Falls attending Iowa State Teachers College. Gail was introduced to storytelling while earning a MA in Library Science at the University of Northern Iowa (same school).

 The first time she told a story to the Lowell School Second graders, she was hooked. No Velcro was disturbed on any shoes, no one poked a neighbor, all eyes were fastened on the teller and all ears drinking in the story. A few years later she began working with students who wanted to be tellers and used this project for her MA paper “The Effects of Storytelling Experiences on Vocabulary Skills of Second Grade Students” which can be found at the Storytelling in Schools site developed by Kate Dudding and Jackie Baldwin.

Gail incorporated a variety of storytelling experiences as the librarian at Lowell Elementary, Waterloo IA and the University of Northern Iowa’s Price Laboratory School, from 1980-1998. Students’ classroom units, workshops at local, state, and national conferences, and special events for schools and other organizations in northeast Iowa were among the ways she promoted storytelling. She was twice a featured teller at the Iowa Storytelling Festival. Clear Lake, Iowa, conducted retreats, and shared programs of stories for reflection during the Advent and Lenten seasons for 15 years.

Gail credits much growth as a teller through her association with Northlands Storytelling Network, the National Storytelling Network (formerly NAPPS), and the Storytell listserv. She seldom misses a meeting of the tribe at National Conferences. At 78 years of age, she is morphing from storyteller to story listener. Referring to herself as the Occasional Poet, she also composes poems and stories about her family. Currently she is writing a history of the Price Laboratory School Library from 1953-2012. Married to Len for 57+ years, they have two sons and a daughter, four grandchildren and 3 great grands.

Stories abound.

Contact Gail at  


Susan Anderson said...

I like this idea. Maybe I'll write one of these myself.


Patricia Coffie said...

Beautiful and welcome. Thanks, Gail.

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