Moon at Midnight – Part XXIII (day 1997)

(part XXII)

The land Mountain Chief had decided to camp at for the winter
Was full of buffalo and other small game
Looking for cover in the trees for the cold season
The flat land wasn’t too nice for them
We teamed up the neighboring camp of Blackfoot
Who’s chief took Mountain Chief’s sister to bed
Seeing all of the riders together
Gave me a chill up and down my spine
But it was beautiful to watch the skilled riders
Chase the buffalo down a buffalo run
Jumping to their deaths
Must have been houndreds of them
To skin and to smoke.

Moon Cow and I set to work at once building as many
Smoke houses as we could
In the fashion that I had first built with him
A few moons ago now
Some of the other people dug giant but shallow holes
Which they then put sticks beneath
Then a makeshift frame structure
That they layered buffalo onto
And on top of this
They lay the hides they had just skinned.

It was a massive undertaking and some days
I would ride up to the top of the cliff
And just look at all the people below working
Imagine how the buffalo had jumped with the stampede
Each day I would do at least three loads of newly smoked meat
Back to the camp we had
Wild Willow had set a home close by
Open air but many hides and blankets to keep us warm
Through the whole night
That we lived in while we were working
It was nice to have her warm body
To sleep next to every night
It was food for my soul.

Every night both of our people
Would get together around a large fire
And celebrate the harvest
The bounty we were all so thankful for
To keep us through the winter
Everybody was happy, laughing, dancing
I would watch Willow and Lily
Dance around with all their sisters
As the drums kept beating into the fresh night air
When she would come find me
She would be covered in a fine layer of sweat
And exhilarated by the night
I would join her at times
Trying to watch the other men
To see how they danced
So I could learn and feel like I belonged more.

When I would wake
There would still be smoke coming from the fires
But more importantly
Smoke would still be inside our smoke houses
That Moon Cow and I had stoked
Before we had gone to our beds
I would add more logs to each one
And when I returned to camp
Willow had special tea for me
With fried buffalo and eggs.

It was a lot of work
But methodical
Which I enjoyed
I definitely wasn’t as skilled as the others
At cutting and skinning
But I was good, and fairly quick
And my good knife definitely helped me
Some of the others used modified axes
That seemed to work fairly good
It was a city for those long days
Bustling with people here and there
Trading and helping
And I met many relatives
Ever curious who the white man was with Willow
It was clear that she was loved by many
And I could also see a few jealous Blackfoot
Looking at me, dressed in a mix of leather and cotton clothes
Wondering what I had that they didn’t
But Willow had told me this is just their way
That she had turned down some widowed elders
After Lily’s father had passed,
Content to help her brother and care for Lily
I wondered which ones.

part XXIV

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