as Baba Yaga, as apt
to bless or curse
any day now, my cabin
might arise on chicken legs
Autumn Noelle Hall, Green Mountain Falls, Colorado, USA
To read more mythic tanka from ATLAS POETICA, click here.
Baba Yaga is the patron witch of this blog. Why? I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know of the Russian witch who flies through the air in a mortar and pestle and whose house—mobile, sustainable, compact—walks about on chicken legs. My grandparents left a Russia of cossacks, pogroms, and hunger. Baba Yaga is the dark Russian soul but also transformative—if she doesn’t eat you, she’ll help you.
Gregory Maguire in EGG AND SPOON imagines the witch as an anachronistic time traveler with a wide frame of reference, not unlike the Merlin of T.H. White’s THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING. She’s bad—and very charming—much as one would imagine from the author of WICKED.
The plot rests on a look alike pair of girls—one a wealthy aristocrat, one a starving peasant. A tsar worried about Bolsheviks. A missing firebird. And a bad case of global warming.
It is all a lot of fun, but Baba Yaga is the heart of the matter. When a child approaches her house illuminated by lit skulls—well, I’d met the witch before, but my blood most gratifyingly ran cold. The house itself is quite “animated”—perhaps a bit too much like a Disney movie at times, but as a rule quite entertaining.
Thanks to Hannah Mahoney, who passed the book along to me. It is my favorite literary appearance of Baba Yaga (I found DEATHLESS a little too harsh). I feel I know her better. Well worth the read!
Isabel Winson-Sagan reports:
Now, if we had followed the original plans, we probably would have ended up destroying this brand new trailer. Luckily I’m being helped by experienced metal workers/contractors, who pointed out that removing the side walls would wreck the structural integrity of the trailer. We could still remove the railings in the front and the ramps from underneath, just not the side walls. It seems possible that purchasing a new trailer, while safer in many respects than going with a used one, undermined us on this point because this model is newer than the one used for previous Tumbleweed tiny houses, and so the plans and the trailer do not match up. So the question became- how do we modify the plans in order to keep the original floor dimensions, without removing the sidewalls, in a safe manner?
To see the ongoing process of Isabel Winson-Sagan’s BabaBuilders, go to http://bababuilders.wix.com/babayagahouse
Be Prepared or Three Wishes: No Sausage on my Nose
As a child I read the fairy tale of a woodcutter granted three wishes by some magical imp in the forest. First, hungry, the woodcutter wishes for a sausage. His wife is furious–he should have wished for gold, jewels, etc. So, now angry, he wishes that the sausage dangle from her nose. And of course is forced to use the last wish to remove it.
Did I learn not to be greedy or angry or foolish? No. Like the devoted Girl Scout I was, I learned to be prepared. (And no wishing for more wishes, by the way).
For much of my life, I’ve put myself to sleep at night preparing ten–count ’em–ten wishes to have handy.
Now that I’m older, I like to quantify my wishes. I don’t want to be “rich” or have ten million dollars. No, I’d like to have a magic wallet that daily produces $40.00. Doesn’t that sound good? Enough to take a friend to a nice lunch, or buy a hardback, or join the Botanical Garden. Every day. And not enough to quit my job or have to buy a bigger house.
So I don’t wish for fame–rather that my blog’s hits double. Or my Amazon sales go up 10% a week. That I get a really fun gig. That there always be boursin cheese if the refrigerator. Sometimes I feel magnanimous and wish that a particular friend get her or his wish.
Now all I need is for an imp to appear and grant me three wishes. I’m ready.
Have you ever set specific creative goals for yourself? Yes.
Such as? Painting with Red and Green for two years in a row.
Did you “succeed” or “fail”? I felt like I succeeded, at least I accomplished what I set out to do which was to understand how to work with complementary colors.
How have these goals changed over time? Yes.
How successful have you been at publishing or showing your work? I am showing my work now.
In the past decade, have you been able to bring your work out into the world? Somewhat.
Are you satisfied with your ability to engage with new technology? I am always striving to understand new technology and utilize it.
My ultra creative daughter Isabel is building herself an official Tiny House this summer. The Slavic witch Baba Yaga isn’t the only one with a mobile dwelling! Help be part of the team that builds the foundation–a trailer bed in this case–by contributing at http://igg.me/p/443880/x/3699690
$5.00 gets you in as part of the team and higher contributions get you a B & B stay in the house!