The Season of Deep Snow

Eagle Dancer - from the Hopi Nation by Mike Pieth
Eagle Dancer – from the Hopi Nation by Mike Pieth

Historical Microfiction

The snow brought peace. There were times when nothing could be heard other than the soft, almost silent sound, of snow falling on the lodges. The winds were not as severe as in some winters, so the softness and quietness prevailed. Fires burning brightly in the lodges, added warmth. With the return of Talking Eagle, and his continuing healing, the people felt a deep sense of happiness, and contentment. The fact that the Grie people were living with them, and would probably be staying with them, only added to the feelings of wellbeing. The Grie people added strength to them, and everybody knew it.

Somehow, during this period, Seven Hawks became a counselor of men. It was the season of deep snow, which meant families were together all day and all night. When the people were together for such long periods, it mostly resulted in good things, like children being born about 9 months from now, but it was also difficult for some, married and unmarried.

from monticello.org
from monticello.org

It was Bull Elk that first came to Seven Hawks, and they spent many hours, over several days, smoking the pipe, and talking about marriage and women (without the women in the lodge). Seven Hawk’s advice was mostly about gentleness, and that a man could be gentle in one sense, and incredibly strong in another, at the same time. That’s what Seven Hawks thought women were looking for.  Bull Elk pondered this for a long time, and took a number of puffs from the pipe, thinking about it.

Bull Elk did also share that he felt humiliated by his own behavior, and he did not think he could ever overcome this feeling. Seven Hawks inwardly felt awkward with this conversation, and wanted to tell him to go to someone else for this advice, but he didn’t. Somehow he found the words (were they from the Creator?) and he talked about how forgiveness works. Healing would come in time, and he would learn what it meant to forgive himself. Bull Elk felt good about these words, and thanked his friend. He left trying to absorb it all.

When Two Wolves came to talk to him the next day, Seven Hawks was stunned. “You want advice from meee?” Two Wolves said yes, but would not say exactly what it was about. From his silence, Seven Hawks knew instantly what it was about, and he looked at his wife, as if to say, “Can you give us time to talk?” She looked back at him with a look that said, “Are you kidding me? Will I ever have time in my own lodge?” He thanked her as she stomped out.

Two Wolves shared how he and Songbird were in love but they had not allowed themselves to be lit with passion yet. “Did that make sense?”, he asked, obviously nervous to talk about it. Seven Hawks said it made perfect sense, which helped Two Wolves to relax. “Wait” Seven

from shareonfacebook
from shareonfacebook

Hawks motioned with his hand, as he explained further, “We need to smoke the pipe before we continue.” This was a tremendous honor for a 15 year old. Seven Hawks was showing him respect, and was indicating that he thought Two Wolves was his equal.

Two Wolves opened up after that, and shared all about his love for Songbird, and the way she felt about him. After smoking a long time, and talking, Two Wolves asked, “When should we be married?” Seven Hawks took the pipe, and drew from it, which gave him time to think. More and more he drew puffs, then he blew the smoke upward, thinking hard. This was a tough question. Finally he said, “I’ll give you my advice, only if you go to others for their advice, and you listen to each one, including your father, and the leaders, like Standing on the Mountain, and Hawk in the Sky”. Two Wolves agreed.

Seven Hawks shared that it was not unusual for the people to marry at 17, even though some waited a little longer. He added, “Don’t wait too long though because your love may diminish.” Two Wolves nodded in agreement. It was a good talk. Two Wolves felt he now had a friend to turn to if he needed to in the future. Seven Hawks also gave him further advice, that cannot be mentioned here. They laughed through some of it!

It wasn’t until after Two Wolves left, that Seven Hawks realized he was almost out of tobacco. As he stood up, he realized he had never had this type of conversation with own son! The thought struck him like a piece of wood. His son Wild Horse was old enough to marry right now! It was at that exact moment that his son Wild Horse walked into the lodge, and said, “Father, can we talk?”

He nodded yes, and as they sat down, Seven Hawks knew that by nightfall he would be out of tobacco, and that he would really have to smoothe things over now, with his wife Prairie Flower.

art by Kevin Red Star
art by Kevin Red Star

Note: It’s my understanding that people of history married much younger than we do now. For example my Grandparents married very young. I do not recommend marrying this young today!

Also, smoking the pipe has a spiritual significance to First Nations people. It was not like our culture of men smoking cigars. When smoking the pipe, there was a sense of being connected, and the smoke was like prayer going up into heaven.

Peace!

Writing © Copyright 2015, nicodemasplusthree

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The Lost Son – Conclusion

by Dave Brosha via flickr
by Dave Brosha via flickr

Cricket in the Meadow prayed all night that night. She sensed the young man was in great danger, and she was unable to rest. She stepped outside several times to look at the night sky, and was amazed at how many stars she could see. As she looked around the village, she saw other fires lit brightly, and other people were awake too, moving around, no doubt praying as well. Among them was the lodge of Holds the Fire. Cricket in the Meadow had tears well up in her eyes, so she closed them, and prayed for healing for their family.

Talking Eagle had just barely covered himself, in the pit with logs, when the fire started to grow dim. And then the wolves did come, quietly at first. They were sniffing the ground, and making soft growling noises. It was dark now, but he could plainly see them surrounding the pit and several got on top of the logs to look down at him through the cracks. They became angry, bared their teeth at him (which he could see in the moonlight), and began growling and snarling. They also looked for a way to get to him and around the logs. The logs were too heavy to move, so a few began digging around the pit. Talking Eagle was prepared for this though, and he jabbed at them with his arrows, and several times he drew blood. The animals yelled, ran around limping, but would eventually return madder than ever.

Several miles away the men built a fire to keep warm, and they took turns standing guard against wolves. They heard them in the distance howling, but could not see them. Every so often, when the guard could not stay awake any longer, he would wake up the next person. Without a lodge to protect them, the cold was intense, even with a fire. No one slept very well, and they spent most of their time shivering.

Talking Eagle was shivering, partly from the cold and partly from fear. The wolves spent hours breathing down at him, through the cracks, their drool dripping down the logs, and onto his blankets. They tried to dig, and he continued to poke and jab at them. They were everywhere at once, was he dreaming – having a nightmare? No they were real, their blood dripping from his arrows and their yelling was real for sure.

from earthsky.org
from earthsky.org

It was sometime just before dawn when Cricket in the Meadow had a vision. She saw two pieces of light hanging over the forest. They were not sunbeams or rays from the sun. They were two long pieces of light with a beginning and ending, just hanging there in the sky. They looked a lot like…well icicles. She knew it was a sign and sensed that Talking Eagle was between the two pieces of light. Would the men see the sign? She began praying that they would.

It was just before dawn when the wolves gave up the attack. It was the cold now, that was killing Talking Eagle, as he lay quietly in the pit. He shivered severely. His skin was growing pale, and his fingertips were turning blue. He was confused, but had enough presence of mind to sing the death song, that his mother had taught him. He was not at peace about dying, but he was trying to be. For the first time in his life – he prayed. Then he stopped singing, because he did not want the pit that he had dug, to be his grave.

When the men woke up at dawn, there was a discussion on which way they should go. All discussion stopped however when Standing on the Mountain stared at the sky awestruck. There were two long pieces of light hanging over the forest, each with a beginning and an end. They all looked at this miraculous sign, and then they looked at each other. Without speaking they quickly gathered their belongings. Bull Elk asked Two Wolves if he knew how to get there, and he said yes. At that, the men took off running towards the place where the pieces of light were.

Bull Elk took the lead, and could be heard yelling, “My son!”, “My son!”, “We must find my son!” The tears streaming down his face, froze to his skin as he ran. Once they were closer the two pieces of light went out, but they could smell a burning smell. Was it a fire? The eight men sprinted now as one, thundering through the otherwise quiet forest. They followed the smell to a clearing, and stopped dead in their tracks. There were signs of wolves everywhere, a lot of them. “The pit!”, yelled Bull Elk.

They sprang into action. Hawk in the Sky, and Wild Horse drew their bows and stood guard, watching the woods, while Seven Hawks removed the logs in an instant. There they found the boy, unconscious, and barely alive but breathing. Three men restarted the fire, while Talking Eagle was lifted out of the pit, and surrounded with layers of buffalo blankets. The young man was placed in the arms of his father, who sank to his knees, weeping.

A short time later the fire was roaring, and everyone was getting warmer. Life was coming back to Talking Eagle, but he was still pale, and he was showing signs of frostbite. While Standing on the Mountain made an herbal drink from melted snow, and herbs from a pouch he kept at his waist, it was decided to get the young man back to the village as quickly as possible. They would carry him, and not stop until they got there.

Two Wolves said, “Since we are not following his trail, we do not have to go through the thick brush” “There is another way around, which is longer but will take less time”. That is exactly what they needed. They made a sling from buffalo blankets. Talking Eagle woke up long enough to take the herbal drink, and to see his father. He managed a smile and fell back asleep.

They headed back to the village with Two Wolves leading the way. Seven Hawks carried the head of the sling, and Bull Elk carried the foot. They did not know it, but Talking Eagle was praying for the second time in his life, thankful that he was alive. The Creator was speaking to him that he would be safe now.

Frosty Trees in Mist Yellowstone by Anita Erdmann by fineartamerica.com
Frosty Trees in Mist Yellowstone by Anita Erdmann by fineartamerica.com

This was longer than normal – thanks for reading! Next week more on life in the village, and the restoration of Bull Elk’s family. Peace!

Writing © Copyright 2015, nicodemasplusthree

The Lost Son – Part III

via flickr
via flickr

Microfiction

Bull Elk did not say a word as the men quickly moved through the forest. He knew that all of this was his fault, and it was all he could do to hold himself together. He was torn up inside and he knew it. Why was he so stupid last night? Somehow he found the courage to apologize to his wife before they left. She said nothing but shook her head “yes”. He loved his wife more than anything on this earth, but he had caused her great pain. He hated himself. He knew it would be a long time before they embraced again. She had every right to leave him, according to their custom. At least if they died out here, trying to find his son, he did what he could to make peace with his wife. At least he had done one thing right.

And now it was time to find his son, before it was too late, before they all froze to death and there would be no asking for his forgiveness. He didn’t usually pray but Bull Elk prayed for help from the Creator. They moved swiftly, and made good time following the trail of Talking Eagle. They found themselves at a group of very large rocks, where they climbed and surveyed the land. There was a creek and thick brush up ahead. It was very clear that the trail of Talking Eagle went into the thick brush. They all looked at each other, and knew that it would be tough going from here.

By the time Talking Eagle made it to the other side of the thick brush he had no idea where he was. To be honest though, he didn’t care. He was away from his father and all the pain of the village. He came to a clearing and decided to rest. He also needed to do something about his feet. They were wet and cold, very cold. He took off the many layers of buckskin, and replaced them with fresh ones, after drying off his feet. He did have sense enough to prepare for this, but he was starting to become concerned about the extreme temperatures.

He built a fire, which was not easy, just before the sun began setting. In the distance he heard aWolf 1 wolf howling, which sent chills down his spine. He decided to do something his father had taught him, and that was to dig a pit in the earth, and put heavy logs over top of him, once he was in it. The pit would protect him from the wolves but there was no way to have a fire, once he was inside. He might freeze to death. It was either the fire and probably facing the wolves, or sleeping in the pit. Either way he might die.

Oh no! As he started digging he realized the earth was frozen, which ruined his knife. It was slow going, but he made it deep enough, to move the earth with his hands. At the same time, he had to keep the fire going. Wolves did not like fire. Off in the distance he saw several sets of eyes. They were not people eyes, and they were not friendly. He would have to move quickly to get the large logs.

The logs were so big he had to roll them into place. Then he put more wood on the fire, and kept digging. He could see forms moving in the forest, shadows really. He guessed there were 4 or maybe 5 of them, pacing back and forth, looking for the right time to attack. He worked quickly, but not quickly enough. The wolves became bold and showed themselves. He began throwing burning pieces of wood at them which held them at bay.

Once he had the pit deep enough, he got in and said goodbye to the fire. He might be saying goodbye to life, and for the first time he realized that coming out here by his self was not a good idea.

The men had a tough time getting through the brush. Most of them were cut or scratched on their faces, and then on their hands as they tried to protect themselves. Seven Hawks got the worst of it, as he tried moving his huge frame through branches that hit him like ropes with knives on them. He gave up trying to protect himself, and barreled through like a buffalo in a corn field.

By dark, they had made it through the brush, but they had lost the trail of Talking Eagle long ago. There was no sign of the young man, and they had no choice but to build a fire, in order to stay alive. Was that a wolf? Night Scene

 This weekend the conclusion of The Lost Son, and some poetry!

Thanks for reading! Peace!

Writing © Copyright 2015, nicodemasplusthree

The Lost Son

Harley Upton Jr. (Diego James Robles) from indiancountrytodaymedianetwork
Harley Upton Jr. (Diego James Robles) – Apache from indiancountrytodaymedianetwork

His father was angry again, and he couldn’t take it anymore. Why did he always have to yell? There was something wrong with his father for sure, but he dared not say anything. Fifteen year old Talking Eagle loved his father but not when he was like this. He had had this problem for a long time, but it was worse now that they were in a new village.

No matter what his mother (Holds the Fire) did, his father would not get out of this mood. She tried yelling back, but that did not go very far. She tried talking softly, and even touching him but he pushed her away. He was an impossible, snarling animal, and Talking Eagle was fed up.

The topic was always the same. Bull Elk felt betrayed by his own people because they did not want to start a new Grie village. They had come to the Tsi village only for safety in the middle of winter, and they were to start another village in the spring (or so he thought). What was to become of their customs, their ways? Were they all supposed to become Tsi? Were they even to give up their language? “Never!” shouted Bull Elk at the top of his lungs.

Talking Eagle was sure that everyone in the village heard that outburst. He was becoming so angry at his father for humiliating them in the eyes of all the people, that he thought he would burst. Holds the Fire was trying to calm him down and moved in closer to her husband, but he pushed her away again. Talking Eagle jumped up and started yelling, “Stop pushing her! Stop pushing her!”. A swift blow came to Talking Eagle’s face from the back of his father’s hand, which knocked him sideways. His father had never done this before, and all of them, even his father were in shock. Nobody said anything. Talking Eagle instinctively placed a hand on his face, and found that his lip was bleeding.

Holds the Fire was weeping now. Her son had never seen her weep like this, unless someone had died. Perhaps they were dying. His family was dying right before his eyes, and he wanted no part of it. He was about to leave, when someone came to their lodge, and scratched at their door.   Horse at Night

Standing on the Mountain came in with concern written on his face. Being a tall man, he also carried a certain amount authority and calmness. The spiritual leader of the Tsi, spoke in perfect Grie, and asked to talk to Bull Elk outside. They talked for what seemed like a long time. Through her tears, Holds the Fire tried to gather herself together, but she did move her bedding as far away as she could from where her husband would be sleeping. Talking Eagle laid down in his place but did not sleep. Instead he made plans. He knew exactly where he would go.

When his father came back in, he stood and looked around but said nothing. He laid down as well, but no one slept for a long time. Talking Eagle was thinking about what he needed to take with him. He would also dress with many layers and travel to the forest. Should he take a horse? No he thought, some parts of the forest were too thick with brush for a horse.

He loved the forest. He and Two Wolves and some of the other young men would go there, just for fun, or to do some hunting. It was peaceful there, not like this place. He needed to be away from here. As soon as he could hear his parents sleeping, he would leave.

Eventually he fell asleep too, but woke up with a start. He quietly moved around the lodge gathering what he needed, and dressed as warm as he could, especially his feet. Grabbing his weapons, he slipped quietly out of the lodge. He could not stay in this place any longer. Night

Next time Part II of The Lost Son. Thanks for reading! Peace to you!

 Writing © Copyright 2014, nicodemasplusthree

The Wedding

American Beauty by Craig Lamere via 500px
American Beauty by Craig Lamere via 500px

It was cold the day they were married but the sun was shining brightly. It was unheard of to get married in the middle of winter, but for this couple it was right and everyone knew it. The Creator had placed them together and that could not be denied. Still, it was difficult to know how to celebrate.

A large fire was built in the center of the village and the people gathered. There was some singing, first in Tsi, and then there were some songs in the Grie language. A few people danced, but then covered themselves again in thick buffalo robes due to the cold. At first the young couple were standing only in their clothing – she in her white and blue dress, and he in his traditional red clothing, but several friends on both sides insisted they be covered with thick buffalo robes, so they were.

Thunder Speaking was nervous, but not just because of the great love he had for Bluebird. Something important was happening in the village today. Different peoples were coming together as one. There were the Tsi people, the Grie people, and himself, the lone person from the Ite (pronounced Ee-teh) people. It was a wedding for all of them.

Bluebird was not nervous at all, in fact she was bursting with anticipation. She wanted to be married and right now! In fact as the women were helping her to get ready, and helping her with her wedding dress, Bluebird had a vision. She had a vision of a bright orange flower in the summer time that had been closed, but opened up, baring itself to the strong, bright rays of the sunshine. She decided not to say anything about it though. She would tell her husband when the time was right.

After the singing and dancing, Thunder Speaking spoke for the first time publicly in his original language. Actually he sang a wedding prayer for his wife, that went like this:

May you always live with happiness,

live with happiness,

may I always be worthy of your love,

worthy of your love,

may we always be protected,

be protected,

and may we have a very long life,

a very long life,

together.

He sang it in the Ite language first and then the translation came as he sang in Tsi. He had been practicing this for a long time, and at the end he thought it went well. Many people thought his original language sounded like water flowing over rocks.

Cricket in the Meadow shared the blessings of smoke, which touched each person there, and they sensed the presence of the Great Spirit. Standing on the Mountain said a few words about the blessings of marriage, but due to the weather he made it short.

As he stood watching his daughter getting married, Bull Elk had mixed feelings. Where did his daughter go? She was just a girl the other day, running and playing, and now here she was, a grown woman getting married. He was sad, and yet the love these two shared was special. He looked over at the face of his wife, Holds the Fire, and saw tears streaming. Yes, love was good he thought, and right. Everything made sense with love.

Bull Elk also performed the Grie custom of tying the young couple’s arms together, one arm from each, symbolizing unity and oneness. And then came the tradition of putting one blanket over the two of them, and the ceremony was over.

A strong fire was burning in the lodge of Thunder Speaking and Bluebird that night, along with a great deal of tenderness. They both flew high many times on the wings of love, and they went far above the clouds, into the heavens, and then down again.

They both fell asleep dreaming about warmer weather and going for long walks with each other. At one point she woke up, and covered his bare chest with the blanket they had been given by the people. She placed her hand in his, and fell back to sleep.

Art by James Bama
Art by James Bama

Note: More to come in this series, in a few days! Thanks for reading! Peace.

Writing © Copyright 2014, nicodemasplusthree

The Decision

photo by Kate Purdy from startupchimp.com
photo by Kate Purdy from startupchamp.com

Seven Hawks had a problem, and he did not know how to tell his wife about it. They both lay in their lodge, awake one night, not knowing what to say. How could he tell her he wanted to stay here and live with the Tsi? The plan had been from the very beginning, to stay with the Tsi over the winter, and then in the spring they would begin a new Grie village somewhere else.

He loved the people here. There was something about them that made them different. They seemed more… connected somehow. He remembered his family visiting the Tsi when he was a boy, and he noticed then their spirituality. He also played games with the Tsi boys then, such as Whirlwind, and Standing on the Mountain, and lately he was able to get to know them as men. They were becoming more of his “brothers” than the Grie men were, in his old village. He turned over again towards his wife, and looked at her. Noticing she was still awake, he lifted his head, and thought about kissing her but she turned away.

Prairie Flower also had a problem. She could not figure out how to tell her husband that she wanted to stay here, and it bothered her to no end. It was the way the Tsi people treated them more than anything else. It was the love and respect they gave the Grie, that impressed her the most.

Her husband was a huge man, with a chest and shoulders more like a horse than a man’s. His arms were like two small trees. Over the years he had saved more than one life simply because he had the strength of three men. But he was the most gentle and humble man she had ever met, and that’s why she married him. She wanted their children to have his personality. In spite of her name, she knew she was too often harsh, and he smoothed her out with his gentleness, like no one else could.

Because of his gentle ways, her husband never got the respect that he should have, in their old village. She knew deep down that was one the reasons they left. She was also tired of the jealousy from other women at the old village. Young women would often giggle as he walked by, hoping to catch his attention. Even married women whispered cruel jokes about him. It often made her angry and sick in her heart.

Everything was different here though. They had been here two months already and the people respected her and her husband for who they were – on the inside. Then too the relationship between Thunder Speaking and Bluebird was the most amazing thing she had ever seen. It was supernatural really.

Thinking about this couple inspired her to get up for a while, and work on Bluebird’s wedding dress. Holds the Fire, had given her the tremendous honor of helping to make it. It was a beautiful white buckskin, with fringes and beadwork. Prairie Flower loved doing beadwork and as she sewed carefully she heard her husband gently snore. She loved hearing that sound, and smiled because of it.

She would also be installing a beautiful and distinctive blue color at the top of the dress. The Grie were known far and wide, for this color they used so often, to decorate their clothing and horses. It reminded her people of the blue sky and deep blue lakes.

She decided that in the morning she would talk to him. She had a peace about this, and she knew deep down they would stay. She would also tell him about the new child she was carrying. She smiled again, realizing how close this would draw them together.

 Brown and White Vanner

Note: Next time – the wedding! Blessings of peace to you!

Writing © Copyright 2014, nicodemasplusthree

The Healing of the Grie People

Sequoia National Park by Ben H.
Sequoia National Park by Ben H.

“I cannot go back there.” “You must”, came the answer. “No, they should kill me and throw me in the river”, Red Hawk was surprised they had not done it already. “I will be with you”, came the answer. “You will?” “Yes”.

The Great White Buffalo further explained, “There needs to be a healing within the people, and fear must be removed. You can explain that you were sick, but many will not understand that, so you can apologize for harming them.” This all made perfect sense of course, and Red Hawk knew it was right. The White Buffalo continued, “Over time the people will begin to trust you again.” With this statement, Red Hawk had hope that began to grow, maybe it was all possible. He did want to repair any damage he had done.

“First we need to take care of that pebble”, The Great White Buffalo was filled with compassion. Red Hawk closed his eyes again and shook his head yes. This time there was only a bright light. He could not tell if it was coming from the outside of his body, or if it was only in his mind, or if it was both. It did not hurt, but the light was so intensely bright that he covered his eyes with his hands. Then there were flashing images of his mind, where he could see the pebble in his mind shrinking until finally it disappeared, and his mind became well! He also saw the tree branches, but this time they became untwisted, and untangled, as he watched. Red Hawk knew that blood was flowing properly again.

A little while later they were walking towards the village, side by side. The Great White Buffalo explained that Red Hawk should talk to his father first and go from there. Healing would flow like a river. Red Hawk was thinking he needed a new name, and knew right away what it should be – Buffalo Medicine.

Then they stood at the top of the small hill that overlooks his village. Would they accept him? Either way, at least he would do everything he could to make things right. There were several people milling around the village, and two women noticed them first. They saw both Red Hawk and the Great White Buffalo. They froze where they were, with shock. Others saw the two women and wondered what they were looking at and they saw the man Red Hawk, and the Great White Buffalo too. Ten people saw the Great White Buffalo, which was a sign of abundance and restoration. Then they all fled to get their families to come and see this wondrous sight.

When they returned to look, there was only Red Hawk. Eyes were popping, and jaws were dropping as he walked into the village, now obviously in his right mind. He found his father, and they went inside his lodge, where they had a long talk. He told his father everything. As he was listening War Chief wept, grateful to have his son back.

Epilogue: Buffalo Medicine (formerly Red Hawk) did all he could to gain the trust of the people. He went hunting and gave the food away. He caught horses and gave them to the families of women he had injured. He made things, like bows, arrows, knives, anything he could think of, and gave them as gifts.

Gradually the people began to trust him, but it took time. There was a healing process, and fear had to let go of the people. Fear walked away from the village with its head hanging low, looking for other victims elsewhere.

War Chief decided not to be the chief anymore. He did not feel right about it, and he told the people they should decide who their leaders should be. He also changed his name to reflect who he was now. His new name was – Grateful Man.

Years later Buffalo Medicine married, and they had three beautiful children.

 

Tipi in Snow

Note: There will be more microfiction in the future but this weekend I’ll share some poetry. I long to return to the village where the Tsi and some of the Grie people live together. After all there is a marriage pending! I call this village the village of “Two Peoples”.

Peace to all of you!

Thanks for reading!

Writing © Copyright 2014, nicodemasplusthree