The children and I walked for a long time today. The first proper walk since our migratory return to the Winter Grounds as we have been focused and busy making our home. We have only been here for a handful of days yet if feels like forever.
We set out, with no clear plan or route in mind. Slowly we walked together and I found myself entering into a bit of an altered state. It was the swing that took me there. Or rather the sounds of laughter that came from that bit of rope tied to that old oak where the hillside is worn down from the countless little feet dragging as bodies thrust into the air. The echoes were familiar as they traveled through the small valley and were held by the trees.
We carried on, gathering around the still standing May Pole. I could hear the singing and feel the dancing that was woven into those faded colors of cloth wrapped around the towering pole. Village life was full in those days and I love dearly the people I have lived with on this hillside.
I began to understand a quality and reason for this walk that I was unaware of when we first began. A quality of healing, of coming full circle, of honoring a process. Perhaps the beginning of a walking ceremony of completion, of death, of transformation. Perhaps it would help to release the dancing woven ribbons of the May Pole to the fire and to open the hearths to the east. Release.
We continued on, making our way past the many mounds made with muscle, sweat, shovels, pick axes. Where lodges once stood and where people we love once dwelled. We were walking amidst the ruins of a once thriving tipi village.
Gently, sadness flows through me and out my eyes back into this hillside.
The stories and feelings of this place, of this journey, grew, exponentially as the children shared their own as we walked, giving me a small glimpse into their wild and free relationship with their place.
We ate rose hips as we searched along the dry creek bed for treasures of tumbled stone. It was the sound of muffled singing and drumming from a distant past that brought us to stand at the bones of an old sweat lodge. A place where together we entered the womb of the mother and prayed. I could feel its’ warmth somehow although it was damp, the hearth overgrown with moss and my breath steaming as I exhaled. Outside of myself are the cold remains of tribal life. Inside are the stories of connection, life, love.
We gathered herbs to bring home for tea. Our quiet walking on the leafy path joined us with a buck who turned and came toward us with a relaxed confidence. For a brief moment I thought I was a deer, perhaps a doe, for we seemed so comfortable together.
With chilled hands in our pockets we uncovered with our boots the old rock-tiled platform and hearth built for the horse trough bath tub. Such luxury to bath in the snow by the creek!
A dense, dry standing dead oak revealed itself. The kids and I wrestled with it for awhile. Now it brings warmth and light to our home.
We continued on, following the faded network of paths formed overtime as hearts and hearths connected; traveling bodies moving through life in similar ways. Gathering wood. Fetching water. Having a poo, visiting a neighbor, having a bath, playing, joining, celebrating, arguing.
A web of shared life shimmering with texture.
The sound of the first lodge to rise with the chopping of wood or the crying of a child.
In the evenings, hunkering down for the long nights journey away from the sun and one by one the glowing lanterns of homes across the hillside fading out.
The sounds of children being born; a father announcing the arrival with the blowing of the conch.
The bright colors of village children in costume for a beating-of-the-bounds parade or a Spring Equinox play.
The long, long nights on vigil hill; bodies bundled from the wet and cold while waiting for the return of the sun.
The sacred communing and mind melding of the talking stick, spiraling around and around, sometimes till morning.
The big lodge and all the diverse realities it accommodated.
It’s only our one family lodge standing here now, glowing in the night.
There are so many reasons, known and unknown, for the dispersal of lives. It was the sheriffs arrival at the Summer Grounds in September, on the behalf of the land “owner”, coming to remove us that broke the last of this shimmering web.
Spider shows us that webs are alive. They ebb and flow, break and mend at the whim of the elements. To be strong, they are continually re-made. Sometimes daily.
We have returned to the Winter Grounds although the new land “owners” have asked us not to. For this struggle and lack of consensus between us I am sorry. I love them and see myself in them. Respectfully, our family answers to the earth. It is her with whom we give our authority. I pray that we all remember this power.
We needed to return here to be able to feel and to heal. A circle completing and never ending.
It is a deep blessing.
May we continue to walk with gratitude for where we have been, where we are now and where we are going. I remember, yet again, that the process and journey through life is all we have. May we cherish it.
To all the lives who lived on this hillside, I love you. Deeply. You are in me. It was an honor to share life with you in this way and has made my life more whole.
To the life before me now, this land, these trees, this water, thank you for opening. Thank you for receiving the lives from my womb made by the love of two bodies united under your moon. Thank you for weaving me and my family into you and you into us. And thank you to the previous land “owner”, who preferred to call himself a steward, for being a part of the openness here.
To the people who have recently arrived here as the new land “owners”, please be good to her. Take care of her and listen to her. May you be taken in and held as we were by her fierce and gentle embrace.
And to the unknown path ahead of us, may we walk it with open arms and curious minds. May the love that opened to us here in this place give us the strength and power to move forward on dancing feet.