In the past, people would gather around the fire, swapping stories for entertainment.

Carol Freya Soth and Chris Neely hope to tap into that tradition this Sunday during the sixth annual South Town Art Walk in Corvallis.

"We're storytellers and artists, and we've opened my studio before, but this year we decided it would be really fun to do something else, like a performance," Freya Soth said.

Freya Soth and Neely will present "Juicy Winter Stew: Stories to Warm the Bones," three 45-minute storytelling performances at Freya Soth's studio.

The stories are a mixture of folktales and myths to celebrate winter solstice, holiday feasts, and the inner landscapes during the long nights of winter.

"Solstice is a cool thing," Freya Soth said. "We decided to have some stories, sitting around the fire and celebrating that idea that we're in the dark cave of winter now, the darkest time, and soon, after the 21st, there are going to be longer days."

The two storytellers, who will also be selling full moon calendars, dream boxes and other mystical items they made, plan to tell a selection of stories from different cultures.

They will likely tell two stories each performance. Which story each will tell depends on the audience at the time.

"You read your audience," Neely said, suggesting she and Freya Soth may tell different stories for a roomful of kids than they would for adults.

According to their press release, the stories are not appropriate for children under 6, but they are designed for listeners ages 6 to 106.

"Whoever decides they want to come sit by the fire and hear a tale or two," Neely said.

Neely said she will tell an Appalachian tale called "Jack and the Northwest Wind."

"I was born and raised in Appalachia. It's kind of like a time bubble there. People still sit around and tell stories. It's something I grew up with," she said.

Freya Soth said, "I'm going to tell an Inuit story about how Raven brought back light."

She will also tell a story from Australia called "The Lightkeeper's Box," while Neely will tell a mythical tale, "Strawberries in Winter," about a young girl who is sent by her evil stepmother to fetch strawberries in the winter.

Freya Soth and Neely were both active in the now-defunct Tcha Tee Man Wi storytelling festival in Corvallis. They are working toward holding more storytelling events and workshops in the months ahead.

"We're both really dedicated to continuing the oral tradition of storytelling. It's something that doesn't happen much anymore," Neely said.

"Juicy Winter Stew: Stories to Warm the Bones" is the first step in that process.

Freya Soth said the cool thing about stories is different listeners can hear the same story and put different meaning and symbols to it based on their own life experiences.

She said listening to a story is like watching a really good movie at a theater and forgetting you're there, but with one big difference:

"This is better, because you're making your own pictures." 


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