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Finding the Light | Ep. 182

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(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)

Have you ever faced a challenge that felt nearly impossible, yet you refused to give up?

We’re about to meet a character who knows how you feel. And when he refuses to give up, the results are dazzling!

Our story is called “Finding the Light.” It’s inspired by traditional tales told among Alaska Natives in the United States and First Nations communities in Canada.

Voices in this episode include Feodor Chin, Jessica Rau, Dawn Ursula, and Kennedy Kanagawa. Kennedy is currently starring as Milky White in the hit Broadway revival of Into The Woods at the St. James Theatre.

This episode was adapted for Circle Round by Rebecca Sheir. It was edited by Nora Saks. Original music and sound design is by Eric Shimelonis. Our artist is Sabina Hahn.


Coloring Page

ADULTS! PRINT THIS so everyone can color while listening. We’re also keeping an album so share your picture on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and tag it with #CircleRound. We'd love to see it! To access all the coloring pages for past episodes, click HERE. Our resident artist is Sabina Hahn and you can learn more about her HERE.


Things To Think About After Listening

Thanks to the sun, we have four seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall. Pick one of them and think about things you love doing during that season.

Then find a piece of paper and draw a picture of all your favorite winter, spring, summer, or fall things to do. Share your artwork with someone you have fun with – and, if you’d like, share it with us! Grown-ups, you can snap a photo of your kiddo and their drawing and email it to circleround@wbur.org.


Musical Spotlight: The Electric Guitar

Eric Shimelonis playing an electric guitar custom built by Jay Pawar. (Courtesy of Rebecca Sheir)
Eric Shimelonis playing an electric guitar custom built by Jay Pawar. (Courtesy of Rebecca Sheir)

Unlike the acoustic guitar, which has a hollow body and depends on the acoustic properties of its own materials to amplify the vibration of its strings, the electric guitar relies on electricity! The electric guitar is embedded with wire-wound magnets called “pickups,” which convert the vibration of the guitar’s steel strings into electrical current. The electric current then goes to an electronic device known as an “amplifier” (or “amp,” as it’s often called) which changes the current to the sound you hear in many musical styles, from blues, rock-and-roll and pop... to country, jazz, and Eric Shimelonis’ expressive, mystical-sounding score for this supernatural Circle Round story!


Script:

NARRATOR: Way up north… where glaciers gleam and mountains loom and the tundra stretches on for miles… summer days are long. So long, the sun shines high in the sky past midnight!

And in the winter… well… in the winter there’s hardly any sunlight at all. In some places, there’s none whatsoever.

But once upon a time… long, long ago… the whole world was bathed in darkness all year round! And during this time of eternal night… in a village way up north… there lived a young man and his grandmother.

YOUNG MAN: Grandmother, why is it always so dark in the world? Why don’t we have any light?

GRANDMOTHER: Well, my dear… Way back when I was a young girl, we did have light! In the summer, we enjoyed long, beautiful days filled with sun. Some nights the sun would never even set! Then winter would come, and the sun would barely even rise. Every year we patiently waited for summer to return, so that we could bask in all of that radiant, luminous light! (beat) But then… one summer… the light never came! The sun set and never rose again. And from that day forward – or should I say “that night forward” – our world was trapped in darkness.

YOUNG MAN: But what happened, Grandmother? What happened to the light?

GRANDMOTHER: Nobody knows, my dear! Nobody knows. One day, the light just… vanished! Disappeared! Without a trace.

YOUNG MAN: Has anyone tried to find it, and bring it back?

GRANDMOTHER: Oh, a few brave – or foolish – souls have ventured out onto the tundra to try and bring back the light. But none have succeeded. They’ve either come back empty-handed… or never come back at all.

NARRATOR: The young man shivered – partly from the cold, and partly from the thought of being forever lost in the wide-open wilderness. But then, all at once, he felt something warm stirring in his heart. A tiny flame, a fire… of determination.

YOUNG MAN: Grandmother… I will bring back the light! I will bring back day and night, and summer and winter! The world has been trapped in darkness long enough!

NARRATOR: Grandmother furrowed her brow.

GRANDMOTHER: But how will you do it? How will you know where to look? And which way to go?

YOUNG MAN: I don’t know! But I’ll figure it out.

NARRATOR: Grandmother could see how resolute her grandson was. So she packed the young man a basket of food, then bundled him into the warmest parka they owned.

GRANDMOTHER: Good luck, my boy. Stay safe. And when you return… I look forward to seeing that light!

NARRATOR: As the young man left his village and ventured into the inky-black tundra, he squinted his eyes.

YOUNG MAN: Wow. And I thought the village was dark! At least there we can light lamps to show us the way! But out here in the wild? I can barely see a thing!

NARRATOR: The young man walked until he could no longer feel his feet. Then he dug a little cave in the snow, crawled inside, and went to sleep.

When he woke up, he found himself staring into a pair of glittering, round, black eyes!

YOUNG MAN: Ahhh! Who’s there? Who are you?

RAVEN: Only a poor creature who ventured into your cave to find some warmth! I hope I didn’t startle you!

NARRATOR: The young man blinked, trying to get a better look at his unexpected companion.

YOUNG MAN: A raven! You’re a raven!

RAVEN: In the flesh! …And feather!

NARRATOR: The raven ruffled its jet-black wings.

RAVEN: But tell me! What’s a human like you doing so far out on the tundra? You’ll freeze to death out here! Unless the darkness makes you all loopy first!

NARRATOR: The young man smiled.

YOUNG MAN: Well actually, I’ve come out here to find the light! And bring it back! So that the world is no longer trapped in darkness!

RAVEN: Oh! The light! My grandparents tell wonderful stories about the light they saw when they were fluffy little chicks! Are you really going to bring it back?

YOUNG MAN: I am! If I can find it… Do you know which way I should go?

RAVEN: Well… according to my grandparents’ legends, you must head to the south! You’ll know it when you get there. But wait.

NARRATOR: The raven plucked out one of its feathers and placed it in the young man’s hand.

RAVEN: Take this with you. It will help you on your journey.

YOUNG MAN: Thank you, Raven! It’s a beautiful feather! But what do I do with it?

RAVEN: It’s simple, my friend! You put it on!

YOUNG MAN: But this feather’s only as big as my hand! How can I ‘put it on’?

NARRATOR: The raven’s eyes twinkled.

RAVEN: Don’t you worry about that. You’ll know what to do when the time comes. Now off you go. And good luck!

NARRATOR: Then the raven spread its wings and flew out of the cave, before soaring up toward the endless pitch-black sky.

[Theme music in]

NARRATOR: What do you think: will the young man find the light? And how might the raven feather come in handy?

We’ll find out what happens, after a quick break.

[Theme music out]

[BREAK]

[Theme music in]

NARRATOR: Welcome back to Circle Round. I’m Rebecca Sheir. Today our story is called “Finding the Light.”

[Theme music out]

NARRATOR: When we left off, a young man up north was determined to bring back the light that had gone missing from the sky years ago.

On his travels, he met a raven who offered him a feather and told him to head south. The young man tucked the feather in the pocket of his parka, then began heading south.

After hours of trudging through the darkness, he reached a tall, snowy hill. And when he scrambled and clambered to the top, he made a very surprising discovery.

YOUNG MAN: This hill – it’s shaped like a ring! It’s perfectly round and sloping down toward a deep hollow inside! I wonder what’s down there?

NARRATOR: As the young man cast his eyes downward, he saw an astonishing sight.

YOUNG MAN: Light! That must be light!

NARRATOR: Indeed! Down in the middle of the ring of snow was a flickering, blazing ball of yellow and orange and red.

The young man sat on his backside and slid down the hill. As he neared the bottom of the hollow, he realized he was seeing the light through a window – the window of a little hut! The hut was surrounded by snow on all sides. And standing outside the hut was an old man.

The old man was stooped over… and shoveling snow! The young man watched as the aged fellow thrust his shovel into the ground, then flung heap after heap of snow onto the tall hill all around him.

YOUNG MAN: That explains it! This old man’s mound of snow is blocking light from the rest of the world! (beat) Wow. He must have been shoveling a long time to make a hill this high!

NARRATOR: Suddenly, the old man stopped shoveling and turned toward the young man.

MAN: Hey! You! What are you doing here?

NARRATOR: The old man sounded angry, but the young man was not afraid.

YOUNG MAN: How about I answer your question with one of my own? Why are you building up this snow-hill and hiding all the light from the rest of the world?

MAN: “Hiding the light”?!? Is that what you think I’m doing? I’m just clearing the snow from my doorway!

YOUNG MAN:  Maybe so. But you’re keeping the light for yourself! I can see it in your hut!

NARRATOR: The old man glanced toward his hut. Then he glared at the young man.

MAN: Alright. Fine. Maybe I am keeping the light for myself. But… can you blame me?

YOUNG MAN: What do you mean?

MAN: You see, I grew up in a village far, far north of here. And when I was a young man, we’d have these endless summer days, so long and glorious sometimes the sun would never set!

YOUNG MAN: I’ve heard about those days! From my grandmother! They sound positively magical!

MAN: And they were! But then winter would come… and the sun would disappear. It was nighttime... all day long! So I came up with a plan to steal the light. To have my own personal summer, every day of the year! And now… I do!

NARRATOR: The old man exploded into peals of laughter. As he doubled over, hooting and hawing and clutching his sides, the young man made a split-second decision.

He lunged forward and made a dash for the hut. The old man was laughing so hard, he didn’t notice the young man sneak inside. Nor did he notice him grab the ball of light and tuck it into his parka!

Quietly and quickly, the young man took off running. But he didn’t get far before the old man recovered from his laughing fit… and saw that his hut had gone dark! And the light was missing!

MAN: Stop, young man! Stop! You come back here with my light!

YOUNG MAN: It isn’t your light! It belongs to all of us!

NARRATOR: The old man began chasing the young man. But the young man didn’t stop.

The young man ran until his legs felt like jelly. Still, when he glanced over his shoulder, he saw the old man was in close pursuit.

NARRATOR: The young man ran until his legs felt like jelly. Still, when he glanced over his shoulder, he saw the old man was in close pursuit.

YOUNG MAN: This old man is faster than I expected! Oh, if only I could fly away from here, so that he doesn’t catch up with me! (Gasps.) Wait a minute! Maybe I can fly!

NARRATOR: Remembering the raven’s gift, the young man reached into the pocket of his parka and plucked out the feather. He tucked the feather behind his ear, and do you know what happened next?

In the blink of an eye, he transformed... into a raven!

Clutching the ball of light in his claws, the young man flapped his wings and took off into the sky… leaving the old man far behind — and far below!

MAN: You come back here with my light! Come baaaaaaaaaack!

NARRATOR: But the young man did not come back. Instead, he soared through the air. As he flew, he tore off a hunk of light from the ball and flung it down to earth.

YOUNG MAN: (Throwing/tossing/flinging light down toward earth.)

NARRATOR: In a flash, that part of the earth lit up, radiant and bright in the light of day!

YOUNG MAN: Good morning, everybody! Rise and shine!

NARRATOR: The young man flew until he was in darkness again. Then he threw down another hunk of light…

YOUNG MAN: (Throwing/tossing/flinging light down toward earth.)

NARRATOR: …and created another day!

He did this again…

YOUNG MAN: (Throwing/tossing/flinging light down toward earth.)

NARRATOR: …and again…

YOUNG MAN: (Throwing/tossing/flinging light down toward earth.)

NARRATOR: …and again.

YOUNG MAN: (Throwing/tossing/flinging light down toward earth.)

NARRATOR: Sometimes the young man waited a while before tossing down another piece of light. In doing so, he created the long nights of winter.

But sometimes he flung the light down quickly, over and over and over, thus creating the long days of summer.

When the young man finally reached his village, he descended to the earth and tossed the very last bit of light high up into the sky.

Immediately, everything came into view: the people, the huts, the glittering snow. The villagers burst into a cheer.

Then the young man took off his feather, turned from his raven form back into a human, and ran straight into the warm, welcoming arms of his grandmother.

YOUNG MAN: I did it, Grandmother! I brought back the light!

GRANDMOTHER: We see that, my dear! At long last! Thanks to you… we see the light!

NARRATOR: Ever since then, the lands far up north have seen both light and dark. After a cold, sunless winter come the long, golden days of summer, when everyone gets to share and bask in the light.

Rebecca Sheir Twitter Host, Circle Round
Rebecca Sheir is the host "Circle Round," WBUR's kids storytelling podcast.

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