Sunday, April 18, 2010

Happy Earth Week; praise and FAQs for The Raven and The Crayfish

'blue marble' earth photo by NASA, public domain

Happy Earth Week everyone! I advise that you celebrate by volunteering a good deed for your planet. I plan on planting some Maple trees for Land's Sake. There are thousands of volunteer opportunities of all types out there, some near you, and easily found through the magic of a web search.


From Crater Lake National Park, Ranger Dave Grimes had high praise for THE RAVEN AND THE CRAYFISH:

"Studlar has taken many of the essential elements of Oregon's deep blue lake (crayfish, ravens, the introduction of fish, native tribes, discovery by gold prospectors, the question of what lies below the lake's surface, uncertainty about the volcano's future) and wrapped them up in a story that is simultaneously surprising and satisfying and that, moreover, wrestles with the key concepts that are fundamental to this mountaintop caldera: mystery, power, violence, transformation, and protection. After reading his legend, I will never look upon the lake in quite the same way.”

Yes, Crater Lake fans, he's THAT Ranger Dave, the one from Colorado, and a legend among park interpreters.


When folks who are less familiar with Crater Lake read THE RAVEN AND THE CRAYFISH, these are the most frequently asked questions:

1. Is this a real legend?
In my 'about the author' I said that I heard the story 'from an elderly Thamalk chief from a village called songe.' In the real world, there is no Thamalk tribe, and 'songe' is French for 'dream'. I invented the story, or discovered it in our collective unconscious, so we can think of it as a modern legend. There is a Klamath tribe, famous for their stories and religious beliefs on the sacred Crater Lake. I borrowed elements from their stories in crafting mine.

2. You wrote of radiation from the lake. What is the story behind that?
Down on the water, the UV light is INTENSE. The sun is bright, and the clearest lake in the world reflects UV light back at us in our little open tour boats. During the first summer that I worked at Crater Lake, I became a bit concerned about the UV, especially considering that there is a history of skin cancer in my family. I only half-jokingly called the UV light 'Llao's revenge.' (The Klamath spirit who inhabited Crater Lake was named Llao, in most versions of the stories. In some versions, he is referred to as simply 'the Chief of the Below World.') In my second summer on the lake, I took to wearing long sleeves and hi-tech 'glacier' sunglasses whenever on the lake, and found the sun considerably less threatening as a result.

3. What about the bubbles rising from the lake?
The US Geological Survey classifies Crater Lake as an active volcano. However, it has not had a sizable eruption in 5000 years. The mountain has shown some signs of activity in recent years. In 1945, there was a 'burp', wherein park visitors and staff reported bluish gray clouds of smoke or gas rising out of the lake. On September 20, 1993, the park experienced earthquakes of up to 6.0 on the richter scale, another probable sign of volcanic activity. And in 2007, visitors hiking Wizard Island reported seeing bubbles rise out of the lake, accompanied by a smell of sulphur. They reported this event to me (because I was guiding their boat tour), and I forwarded the message to the lake research crew. The research crew visited the approximate site of the bubbles in following days, and did not find any more evidence of activity. In any case, we never know when Llao might awaken!

In the near future, I'll follow up on my April 6th post with some comments on the work of Dunstan Firbolg. Stay tuned.

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