Sunday, November 08, 2009
Taily Po Woods
Rosie was on a Taily-Po stories kick when we went on this hike. Each story begins, "When I was a little girl, my grandpa told me never go into the woods at night, because there's a Taily-Po out there!"
I started telling her these stories because I was thinking about the way we tell ourselves about Badness in the world-- how it's safer to think of it as some foreign creature in the woods-- easily defeated or avoided if you just wield the right weapon or have the magic words. And how badness isn't really like that-- it's not Elsewhere, it's right here, in us. The cannibalism in families and friendships, the piracy at work, the villainy in the cereal aisle. Not in some creepy original-sin or pitchforked angel sort of way, but in the vague, ambiguous human amalgamous way of being sort of good and sort of rotten, depending on the day and the company.
So the Taily-Po stories started out as very cut and dry cautionary sorts of tellings-- don't stray from the path, or Else! But gradually they've morphed into a cycle that is much more complicated than black and white. Rosie has rescued baby Taily-Pos when they've wandedered out in the day time, returning them to their Taily-Po daddies at great personal risk. From there, she's forged friendships and alliances with the little ones, and negotiated the terms of engagement with the big ones.
On our walks she catches baby taily pos that then sit on her shoulder for a while, crying for their families. These stories are hard work for her-- even when all the Taily-Pos are nice and nobody is threatened, the stories are a bit edgy and dangerous. So she asks for them again and again.
Anyway, here she is, sword fighting with Taily-Pos in an actual woods.