[After I posted Facing our lions, Jenni Woodroffe sent me this story. Jenni is a talented Australian storyteller and children’s book expert who lives in Perth, Australia. I asked her permission to share this story. Jenni and I met while she was on the trip below. We have been friends ever since. In 2009 I finally got to visit her on her home ground.]
One story that gave me a lot of courage—perhaps only hours before we first met—was “Kaatje’s Treasure” in An Illustrated Treasury of Fairy and Folk Talesby James Riordan (Methuen 1986).
I had arrived in North Carolina airport at about midnight in readiness for the NAPPS [National Association for the Preservation and Perpetuation of Storytelling, now called National Storytelling Network] Conference. In all of North America I only knew two people.
I was anxious because I had overlooked one of the most essential lessons of all travellers: You must pack your own bags. My daughter had given me a new wallet to bring with me and had transferred everything from my old one into the new one. She had overlooked one thing—my credit card.
You can imagine my anxiety when I reached Singapore, en route to the US, and discovered its absence. With a reverse call [in North American, a collect call], I had managed to get in touch with my daughter Bridget in Australia and instructed her to forward it to our conference venue, Peace College, Raleigh.
What gave me courage, as the plane began to descend to Raleigh airport, was that Kaatje of the story had to walk around the Corn Exchange three times at the stroke of midnight. I held on to the fact that “things happen at midnight” and that I was to expect the unexpected.
My attendence at the Raleigh Conference opened many doors, and I met so many wonderful people and heard so many wonderful stories. The number of people I now know in North America, and whose hospitality I enjoyed, far exceeds the two I knew before the stroke of midnight on Tuesday, 13th June, 1989.
Jenni Woodroffe, 2010