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Scottish International Storytelling Festival storytelling walk

Missed buses and a late arrival as grim weather beckons – even the direst of days hit pause as the first of many stories came to life in front of my eyes.

Jane Mathers, the resident storyteller of that particular afternoon, took us around Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens, stopping every once in a while to revel in the nature that surrounded us and communicate stories of the olden days. One of my favourites was the story of a wee robin and the reason as to why some trees kept their leaves and others didn’t. Her tales were depictions of origin myths tied to the Scottish land; embodiments of nature.

As Jane brought these characters to life and personified the oak and willow trees, the earth stood still. I could see branches extending above me; the only disruption being the north wind as it blew past us as we stood on the grass surrounded by plant life.

Storytelling has roots ingrained deep across all sorts of cultures and countries. It has also aided the development and raising of our children. Stories of heroes and monsters, creatures and treasures have always been a part of how we attempt to understand the world we live in. The Scottish International Storytelling Festival is an excellent way of coming to understand the oral traditions and performance storytelling that has shaped Scotland throughout its history.

Walking through the botanic gardens, presented with all sorts of stories, one thing remained clear: nature had a voice of its own, an attitude that was simply unmatched by any human entity. I saw it as we passed by the streaming waterfalls and ponds, I saw it as birds chattered to one another flying from the perch of one tree to the next.

As we arrived at a group of oak trees, Jane introduced the next story full of dancing trees, fairies and treasure. I felt fortunate to be there. At a time when in-person events are hard to come by, this simple act of walking with a small group of people experiencing nature coming to life around us was a moment of pure unadulterated bliss.

Image: Hannah Frood

By Ece Kucuk

Ece Kucuk served as President of The Student in 2021/22 and is currently a regular contributor to the paper. She was previously Head Editor-in-Chief and Features Editor, she has also been a writer at The Student for over two years. She is going into her Fourth Year of a Master of Arts with Honours in English Language and Literature and plans to do her Postgraduate in Education and Child Development. She has written for every section of the paper as well as written for The Rattlecap and other publications. Some of her favourite works include her reflection on being the child of an immigrant, her piece on introducing ice hockey, as well as her interview with children’s author Mariam James.