Please accept my humble but sincere thanks for your well timed article. You
have finally given me the name for an image I took of the St. Louis skyline
about 5 years ago. It was on a hot August night and my wife and I went over
to the east side of the river and drove beyond the levee wall and setup
tripods and started shooting. I was experimenting with a combined use of a
blue and an orange polarizer. The result was fantastic. When I first saw
the image I immediately thought of the title "Paint it Black" but I don't
think the Rolling Stones would like that.
At any rate, I saw in your title the works "Firedance Sky" and it hit. That
is was I was looking for. Previously the best my wife and I could do was
Fire in the Sky. I like Firedance Sky better! May I have permission to use
From: Bill [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Sunday, March 26, 2006 12:30 PM
Subject: [ILJACKSON] Little Egypt Heritage, Firedance Sky, 26 March 2006,
Vol 5 #12
Little Egypt Heritage Articles
Stories of Southern Illinois
C Bill Oliver
26 March 2006
Vol 5 Issue: #12
Osiyo, Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen of Little Egypt,
In my snail-mail box yesterday was my newsletter from the Nebraska State
Genealogical Society. Included in the "news" about the May 2006 Annual
Conference at Beatrice, Nebraska. The feature speaker for the conference
will be John Philip Colletta who will present, among other items, "Hacks
and Hookers and Putting up Pickles: Snares of yesterday's English." Now
that is a title I'd like to hear about. I must see if that talk will be
taped and available for sale.
Also, in my e-mail box yesterday appeared a note from an e-mail list
owner friend recommending an article* from "The Southern Illinoisan"
online newspaper entitled, "Early Southern Illinoisans had colorful
speech". How coincidental!
My interest in the way we express things might have already been peaked
by my visit last week to the roots of my Dad in Southern Illinois, where
I learned many things about my pioneer ancestors who migrated there in
the very early 1830s. Dad and Grandma Oliver often used expressions
and/or words that are not used in this day and age.
The colorful language of yesteryear known as "Appalachian Speechways"
allows phrases as plain and as functional as an ax ... "drug" for
"dragged" or "clum" for "climbed" or "The smoke o'
dawn hit were jist
'scarletin' red." And, one of my all time favorites - "the sun
behind the ridges."
Have you ever been "yankeed"?
And, Grandma Oliver was "a-sparkin" with Grandpa Oliver 'cause he asked
if he "might see her safe home" in the middle of the week. I can
understand "down the hollar" but for the life of me I can't find "under
the ridge". Grandma Oliver spoke of a place on Old Monroe Benson's farm
as a very specific place. That place is even mentioned in a WPA tour
account in the Ozark Foothills of Southern Illinois. However, no one I
have ever talked to in Johnson county, Illinois, can tell me where it is.
Dad always said that there was the American Way, the Marine Corps Way,
and the Ole Man's Way, and each was different. There are different ways
to explain phenomenon also. Take the following story as an example.
Aurora Borealis is explained differently by different sets of folks.
When in school I learned that these Northern Lights were a phenomenon of
light witnessed in the northern regions and that on very rare occasions
they would be seen in northern Ohio. If a person was lucky s/he might
catch a glimpse of some flickering curtains of lights, apparently
dancing across the dark night sky. These are the northern lights, a
celestial phenomenon that has amazed people for centuries.
The scientific name for the phenomena is Aurora Borealis, which is Latin
and translates into the "red dawn of the north". The Italian scientist,
Galileo Galilei, was the first to use the expression. On the latitude
where Galileo was living, northern lights consist of mainly red color.
Up in the sky, the threshold of space, the air molecules there respond
to great flares from the sun by pulling them apart. Northern lights
originate from our sun. During large explosions and flares, huge
quantities of solar particles are thrown out of the sun and into deep
space. These plasma clouds travel through space with great speeds. It
takes these plasma clouds two to three days to reach our planet. When
they are closing in on Earth, they are captured by Earth's magnetic
field (the magnetosphere) and guided towards Earth's two magnetic poles;
the geomagnetic south pole and the geomagnetic north pole.
Northern lights occur as a result of solar particles colliding with the
gases in earth's atmosphere. On their way down towards the geomagnetic
poles, the solar particles are stopped by Earth's atmosphere, which acts
as an effective shield against these deadly particles.
When the solar particles are stopped by the atmosphere, they collide
with the atmospheric gases present, and the collision energy between the
solar particle and the gas molecule is emitted as a photon - a light
particle. And when you have many such collisions, you have an aurora -
lights that may seem to move across the sky. This glow that we see are
the molecules coming back together.
The following is a bit different explanation of these fantastic heavenly
Looking up in the winter night sky, one muses what the universe is, and
the elders would tell the children stories to explain these wonders all
about us. The Northern Lights are the pathways or the campfires of the
souls as they traveled across the skies. It was just something that we
The Storyteller, whom we called "Uncle", would encourage us to play a
game called "stump the adults". One child asked "Uncle", where do the
colors come from? He said that the colors came from each of the clans.
As each clan would come together they would gather something that was
important to them and they would throw it into the fire. That makes the
The Flycatchers, he said, reached beneath their wings and pulled out
little yellow feathers which they threw into the fire. This makes the
Northern Lights glow yellow. The folk from the Turtle Clan took lilly
pads and grasses and threw those into the fire. That makes the lights
glow green. The Bear Clan took their favorite food, berries, and threw
them into the fire. This forms the color red. And, the people from the
Thunderbird Clan, the eagles, flew over with great spruce boughs in
their talons, and they dropped these into the flames. This makes the
Northern Lights glow a greenish-blue. These are the colors of the
Not to be left out, one child asked, but Uncle, what of the Sturgeons
Clan?? They're fish, what did they do? Threw water into the fire and put
it out? Uncle turned and looked at her very seriously and said, "yes,
that's exactly what happened." As the people from the Sturgeons Clan
passed by they took their tails and their fins and they flipped water
into the fire. This makes the flames hiss and crackle; they go out in
some places and reappear in others. That is why the Northern Lights seem
to pulse and dance about.
Looking up at the fires in the sky and becoming very, very quiet, you
can sometimes hear the hiss and crackle and the pop of the fires in the
I know which version I like best-but, my teachers in school never seemed
to accept this latter one.
e-la-Di-e-das-Di ha-wi nv-wa-do-hi-ya nv-wa-to-hi-ya-da.
(May you walk in peace and harmony) and
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