WhiteCrow Walking

My solo walk across America began in Maine. I walked for nearly 3 years carrying a backpack and facing countless dangers, as well as met wonderful people I could have never made it without. From bullets to bears I moved through mountains of snow and across burning desert country. The end result will be a book, and the fruition of a childhood dream. This is a blog from the field with rough stories about my steps along the way.

01 September 2007

When Leaves Turn, Livingston MT

I come back down to earth, to eating without vomiting, and again dreaming about food after Basecamp Betty arrives with my winter gear and a few changes of my old cherished clothes so I can walk in luxury around these local towns feeling at home like I am sitting in an old chair for at least a few days while we visit and Betty plans her own mini vacation. So how do I thank this person that has traveled all over America just to bring me hazelnuts in the snow, bayou made ice-cream and brownies when I turned 43 in Louisiana swelter, and repeatedly took away my treasures, my journals, my worries in little brown boxes along with my self made pipe tomahawk resting on the backseat to rest until the deserts pass and bears and empty evenings on the plains came again to nibble on my ancient peace? The hawk has been returned and the coming of the last winter of the walk perfumes the mornings. "Soon," it whispers. I check the edges of morning creeks I lean into reflections over, knowing the clear skin will lace out from the shore in days.
I place jars of beads that I have been carrying(always exchanging my stash in trade and in use since the my first steps) into another box that will be driving away one last time before it is over. We are trained in this life not to measure all things for in so much measuring the towering level of loss comes in with a deep well of sadness. Do not to count the last meals with adored friends, last kisses stolen on the drive home, last moments before we turn and walk away from a forest that has past to pulp never to return...any season. I begin to measure though for I have time for it and I have become sometimes foolishly brave, holding this flask of walking up to the light to see how much is left in the bottom as I swirl these last golden fall months of walking across America. Betty believed in me, in this walk, since before the physical walk began and from that moment years ago she has thrust out her hand to help..even when that help was just the act of believing....just believing in someone has always had the power to change the world.I didn't know that I would need a base camp or that I wanted such a structure before I taped up boxes of socks and weighted stoves, and cut off toothbrush handles. Of course there was a time when I wasn't sure I would really across America as in NOW. What it was to walk across America, to put on a hat, shoulder a pack and place everything that I had ever known in boxes I may never open again.....would never open again with the same hands. Betty visits and I am losing everything. Days ago I lost the bear spoon I carved Christmas day in a PA barn the first winter of the walk from a scrap of mahogany. I found it on the Crow reservation by the train tracks where I made coffee and camp. Today my wallet is gone. I am moving too fast. I head back to Medicine Wheel to find my wallet, make another camp in the mountains. This time I will play my flute, listen and leave an eagle feather. It is easy to forget that just I can use a car for a couple days that I don't have to watch my steps, that I don't have to breathe. I will go back into the mountains and maybe I will never find my wallet but I have a feeling that that is not what I lost anyhow.
When I got to the Crow reservation I talked to one of the elders about walking the Crow land. I wanted permission. It was important to be welcomed, wanted in my gut.Howard Boggess looked into my face, beyond the patina of my teeth and this hair growing white. "It is all we really want on the board, to be asked, the respect of it. WhiteCrow? I have heard of this name. A woman in Pennsylvania sent me a link to your journey over a year ago when you were in her state." Howard looks like an elder on loan from from a movie. He is easy words, hands shaking many times, and a hand reaching out where many are reserved. Down at the creek behind Chief Pleny Coup's house I squat to wash off the buffalo fat, butter from the corn , and shine from fry bread that I have been given as in times of old. I was tired and hungry when I arrived. From the meat of a Yellowstone buffalo I was fed pink smoky meat and hoped that it would stay in my body all winter, in more than chewing memory. I have lost many things on this walk and they all bring me back to water and the slow realization that nothing is really lost that matters. I pin my card in the bush by the Chief's spring where all the ribbons are watching and walk up to the log cabin. The sun is going down.

Library....out of time.