Of Legend and Lore
Hubs and I had the opportunity to take our first trip “over the saddle” last weekend – an area in the mountains in front of our desert home that clearly looks like … you guessed it … a saddle.
Aside from being as close to nature as you can possibly be (see our camp photo below), I absolutely love these trips that are led by friends whose generations of family grew up in this area. They know every nook and cranny and always have a story of local lore or legend to share.
Our local “tour guides” knew all about the Salazar Ranch home at our campsite, abandoned since at least the ‘60s, its innards removed by vandals – sinks and bedsprings littering the remote area. (But none of us knew what kind of birds awoke us at 4 a.m. with their incessant birdsong.)
Click Play To Hear Birdsong
The story that struck me most was one that connected Rancher Salazar to Carpet Hill, an infamous area I refuse to traverse in any 4WD vehicle (just a month ago, a man was killed on its steep faces). I had never understood why a bone-dry hill in the desert had such a name.
Randy and Fred were happy to share the legend of Carpet Hill: Rancher Salazar, you see, worked in Tucson as a carpet layer. When he returned to his ranch each night in his two-wheel drive pickup, he had only one way home: up that treacherous, steep hill. To gain traction, he’d throw carpet remnants along the hillside. And, alas, the name was born (And it stuck; all the locals know of Carpet Hill).
As we made our way back home and looked down on our sleepy little once-mining town, I wondered about all the other stories it held – those true, those fabricated, and especially those delicious ones that start with a real-life morsel, but take on new meaning as they pass the mouths of eager storytellers … altered, enhanced, transformed.
For Readers, Writers: Are you like me: a sucker for novels that incorporate legend and lore – the proverbial story within a story? Most recently, my book club read The Snow Child, a fabulous novel that takes legend and lore to new levels. Inspired by a Russian fairytale, it really straddles the line between fairytale and realism – and things are never quite what they seem. Another wonderful book, The Mermaid Collector, by Erika Marks, seamlessly shifts from a present-day story to a historic story filled with fascinating mermaid legend. And yet another novel that I felt was filled with artfully woven parable and lore was Rebecca Rasmussen’s The Bird Sisters.
What novels have you read that incorporate legend and lore? Have you ever tried to write a book that blends the present with the ‘teachable’ stories of the past? Why do you think people are drawn to legend and folklore? Are you?