The Morning After
As I begin to gather and separate I realize I will not carry away everything that has taken place. Everything that has taken place will not live again in the book, for whom could carry the weight? So I write little things; notes between classes that in some way prepare me for the real assignment. Maybe if I were to really talk to you I would never mention the pants that I wore for three years, the dog cuff I made of tooled quarter inch leather and wore to fight roving strays, or the 28 pairs of boots I killed. Maybe I would just talk about the comfort of a good chair, and how special it is to not look out for ants before I sit down, and no longer needing to dust off my pants when I stand. Maybe I would just sigh a lot and you would think I was just tired. I have learned another language since I left you. That means I have gained another soul according to the old men. Mostly I am quieter now having heard all of my conversations as of yet unspoken, and in that I can remain silent a lot more, and need to be right a lot less.
The day after the walk ended I did walk into the ocean. I had to. You understand. I would still be there if I didn't..and then again, that would be alright too. Now though, I am in Minnesota and no longer wet in ice water to my thighs and sticky with salt water over sweat. Even though it is not detectable yet, not to our eyes, photographs have already begun to fade; soften at the edges. That is the difference between yesterday and today and it carries a new pang.
The morning after I went to to the school in Clallam Bay where I was asked to speak for twenty minutes. Hours later I was gratefully still speaking; in the gym talking to the bleachers of faces, standing in front of crowded class rooms and meeting halls and making children giggle in the over-flow rooms as I told them about how large swamp snails tasted like toes. The childhood delight of a month without a shower. With my words I took them camping with no end in sight. With my words I took them to 'where the wild things are' and they all wanted to know what we'd be eating come dinner time.
Evening came in bearing a privilege I will always greatly treasure. Polly of the Makah Tribe helped organize a dinner to honor my journey and the tribe embraced me with freshly caught fish cooked traditionally into a soup, buck skin Indian bread, and wild blackberries over cake and whip cream. The women of the tribe danced the shaw Welcoming Dance to the singing and drumming of a tribal brother and we were all transported somewhere ancient. The elders told BaseCamp(she joined me for the last miles and to drive me to Minnesota) and myself about the old ways, and the strengths and challenges facing the tribe today. As I stood as requested to tell some of my stories I received many gifts to include a homemade drum made from wood and stretched over with raw hide, a tribal sweatshirt, miniature paddle to connect the tribes relationship with the sea, and a string of olive shells beaded and placed around my neck. One of the deepest joys was the nodding approval of the elders as I told of simpler things regarding the walk, the quieting of my heart, my new found relationship with the earth and my survival largely based on the old ways that appear now largely ignored.
Later in the night, when my flute was silent and stories tired, I lay on the floor in Polly's den beneath the wide old growth cedar planks painted traditionally with eagles and long beaked birds, ironing out the days events into terms I could relate and remember. Mostly I lay there and heard my friend Kirin talking her sleep talk over on her sleeping mat. I smiled and wondered if I missed something that kept me from sleeping. Had the Creator given me a sign, a new job and I was too tied up in myself to listen? Surely He would get my attention if He desired it. On the walls above me eagle feathers hang down shining like scales. I know this is where I come from and I can smell the rightness in it, this is my world and I smile without moving my face.