My great great grandmother, full blood Blackfoot, watches over me, shows me how life pulses and throbs on Mother Earth. I imagine my ancestors walking softly through their woods, just as the Cherokee walk these Western North Carolina Mountains I am fortunate to live on. I step upon ground that thrums with stories ancient and true. I notice how I am walking from outside my foot to inside, a rolling motion—is this my great great grandmother’s way? I say, “Show me, Kip a ta ki, (old woman). I have lived too white!”
I tread silent, as I don’t want to break the spell. Bear tracks, kiaayo, along the road above my log house. There are feline tracks, too, and I crouch to touch one of them—a big feral house cat? Or the Bobcat, natayo, I once saw racing across my driveway and up the incline. I step off the road, and bend again to study the larger track. Bear. I know that if Bear and I meet, it could turn out wrong for me, or Bear could simply run away—same as Bobcat did that day. I have respect for wild things—the respect of care and distance, not of personification of human idealization.
I finally say aloud to GMR, “Hey, looks like bear tracks, and I’m not sure about these feline ones, maybe too small for Bobcat.” He comes over to look. The dogs sniff eagerly. The wind blows. The snow sparkles. The mountain, miistak, gives and takes away. I am filled with thanksgiving. My great great grandmother breathes warmth on my cheek, prepares to leave me, “Pookaawa, sokapii (child, be good).” I answer, “Wait! Forgive me my stumbles—on the land, on the language, on life.” She nods. Is gone. I walk home.
(repost from YOG)….
[I will see you all soon – Home to my mountain on Tuesday 1/6]