Spruce Story (day 2247)

The old spruce and I sat silently
We shared secrets unspoken
We shared ground softly packed
I looked up and counted to one hundred
Each branch I gave a name
Each name remembered its origin
In the world of seven valleys
I heard ravens nesting
Squirrels chasing
And I felt each limb slowly shake
Watching each needle slowly fall
Tumbling to the palm of my hand
Which rebirthed my blessings
In each moment of doubt
Until I stood where the spruce had stood
And I inhaled deeply as the spruce had inhaled
And I listened as the spruce had listened
And I swayed as the spruce had swayed
Until the seven valleys became my valleys
And my story remained so.

Eroding (day 2050)

Loveless and love loss
The nature of a sulk’n heart
Band around my middle name
Forever leaving marks

River runs through every rock
Stepping off the dock
Eroding goes away my time
Raven watches mine

Truth displayed upon deep bark
Mountain high, valley low
Scratching at my back
Needles upon our heavy ground

Moon at Midnight – Part XXXXI (day 2015)

(part XXXX)

I know that Frank appreciated having us there
To help him chop wood
He wasn’t prepared for so much help
So we only had two splitting axes
But everybody managed to stay busy
Stacking and carrying and loading and unloading.

On the second day at their place
We could feel a great rumbling
And knew it could only be the buffalo stampeding
So we immediately made our way
Out of their valley
And in to the next
Where there was a migratory path
The buffalo would always take
We sat atop the crest of the valley
Just watching them there
Thousands, movement as far as the eye could see
What a beautiful thing to behold
Frank was happy to have sure food all winter.

We only took down two buffalo
That was all the meat that Frank needed
It wasn’t smart for us to carry on our backs
Meat from this far away to our own village
We let Tall Pine and Moon Cow pull the bow
For it was clear they mourned not being able
To have their buffalo run this year
It was beautiful to watch them ride
Frank’s stud, bareback
Into the buffalo, fearlessly.

Tall Pine got the first one
Which landed with a thud and a big pile of dust
He then hurried back to us
Jumped off and before the dust settled
Moon Cow was off with a hoot
To get the wind in his hair again
I could see him smiling even from where I sat
As he wove his way into the herd
Bow cocked and sighted:
Thud… dust.

With four of us dressing the buffalo
We had them quickly on a sled
Being pulled by the horse
And were on our way back to the house
Excited to celebrate the luck
Frank knew better then to offer us his moonshine
But he had plenty of tea
Amy made us the most delicious bread
And we had a mighty feast of it
Afterwards all of us had to undo
Our belt buckles
So we could sit comfortably around the fire
Clarinet included!
It was nice to be with such kind people
And to have helped them such.

part XXXXII

Moon at Midnight – Part XXX (day 2004)

(part XXIX)

Willow knew how to throw up the teepee
But I quickly learned how, too,
It was my first time
But with Willow and Moon Cow giving orders
It went up easily
We set up Moon Cow’s close by ours
And slowly we became acquainted with our new home
For the summer, anyways,
For now it was our home.

When we first stopped
And made our home here
Mountain Chief had sent out scouts
In every direction
To make sure that we were indeed
Not going to be easily found
Every second day new scouts
Would relieve the old scouts
And so it went for the first while
Without any event to note of.

We learned that in the two valleys to the North
About a 4 hour horseback ride
There was a small family settlement
Mountain Chief asked me if I would go
And introduce myself to them
So that they would know we meant peace
But also to see if they were friendlies
To see if they were friendly to Natives.

When I arrived at their house
I wasn’t expecting what I found
Truth be told, I didn’t know what I was expecting
But at any rate
What I found really didn’t seem normal
She was deaf and he was blind
They had a dog with three legs
And a son, well more a man they called boy,
That was a good two feet taller then both of them
And to my untrained eye,
Didn’t look a lick like either one of them
They all seemed happy enough though
And I got along just nice with them.

Her name was Sara
And it turned out that her hearing
Wasn’t as bad as one first thought
And what she lacked in hearing
She made up for in a delicious soup
His name was Bill, and he was an old miner
He had come West to the hills to find gold
And I didn’t ask if he had found it
But he did tell me he found Sara
And knew he had found what he came for
Sara had already had the son
By another miner who had taken her
One night while visiting the saloon in town
The young man’s name was Johnny,
Who they both called Johnny-boy
And just watching his hands work an axe
For firewood to get ol’ Sara’s stove roaring
One could see he was as gentle as a pillow
But as strong as an ox
Bill told me he went blind from drinking too much moonshine
And that was the last time
He touched the: “Gat-dang stuff. Pardon my French, little lady.”

part XXXI

Moon at Midnight – Part VII (day 1981)

(part VI)

When I started to see evidence of inhabitants
I kept myself at alert
But didn’t bring myself to alarm
For such an action could spook many a hermit
Approaching with hands showing and a smile
Is the smartest thing for a lone traveler to do
Perhaps even a little hop in ones gait
Would also go a long way.

No matter how far into a forest one is
It always seems like you’re trespassing
When you come upon another’s stacks of wood
Or a half empty can of something useful
Signs of a job half finished
My orderly mind always puts things in rows,
Stacks necessities where they should be,
And generally avoids losing tools to the seasons
So rather forgetful humans
Always give me confused thoughts
On the one hand they could be so clumsy
They have not a care in the world
But chances are out here
Such an action would lead a man to sure death
Starving a winter away
Without a care in the world
So my senses tell me to be wary
Of a man and his crooked smile

Much to my surprise
A woman was the first one to see me walking up
She stood from the porch and yelled:
“Hello there friend,
What brings you this way?”
No more kind words could a human expect
When they’ve seen nothing but squirrels
And bluejays for ten days
And just as I was about to answer
A man of about fourty two emerged
From the side of the house
Carrying a shovel in his hand
He stopped a few paces from the steps
And rested his arm on his shovel
As the two of them watched me walk up
“Amy, can you put a cup of tea on to boil?”

When I walked up to him
I could hear inside Amy talking to a child
Telling it to be kind to the stranger
“Frank,” he said, holding his hand out to me
“Joe McDunn,” I replied loud enough so Amy could hear
Getting shook so thoroughly
I was happy to get my hand back
Still connected to my arm
He slapped me on the back with a big smile
And invited me up to his balcony
Where he had a cluster of chairs
For watching the field I had just come through.

“I saw your smoke from the crest
On the far side of the valley
And just moments later I was face to face
With a moose twice the size of your house here!
Can you imagine that
I bet you’ve got a full salt barrel or two
Don’t you Frank?”

It surprised me how much Frank was smiling
I had clearly found some hospitable hosts for the night
The tea Amy brought out to us
Which she sat and drank, too
Was flavored much better then
Any cup I had found in any town I’d been
I noticed their garden
Which I could only guess was what
Frank had been minding when I walked up
And as I sat in one of their rocking chairs
Also smiling away to myself
I began to learn about Amy & Frank.

day VIII

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Moon at Midnight – Part VI (day 1980)

(part V)

As my footsteps changed slope from uphill to downhill
I crested into a new valley
It was a particularly notable valley cresting
For the view I was afforded stretched from tip to bow
At the far end I could see a tail of smoke rising steady
Hovering for some time at the cloud line
Making its ever looming presence felt
As I looked down and stepped between the pebbles
Dodging in and out of the single-path trail I had been following.

My memory floated back to a woman I once had known
A woman whose smile touched the very essence of a man
Changing him instantly to a friend, forever
I had last seen her walking out of the tack store
In preparation to depart with a fresh pack of jerky
And enough rice to keep me a while,
She had asked where I was off to
And I told her what had honestly come to mind
I shared with her my dream of this land
With leaves the size of a horses head
With trees that bled sugar and turned as red as wine
She looked at me and shaked her head
Scolding that all us men ever want is our devil juice
I explained to her it wasn’t so,
She smiled and knew she was scolding the wrong man
I asked her if she would like to join me
An honest man on an honest journey
To a land beyond, to the East
But she had only replied in jest
Saying: “Honey, I’ve got too many mouths to feed.”

I started at a cracking branch
To my left, not 7 meters away,
I looked and staring back at me
Was a moose, hovering way above my head
He was looking straight at me
Antlers standing so tall and proud
Chewing on a tuft of a shrub
That hung down from the left side of his mouth
He snorted softly as he stared at me
Demanding I respect his space
I nodded back, gave a grunt
And quickly scanned the nearby forest
For any signs of a calf around.

My footstep didn’t stop
Rather, they kept along the trail I went
My heart beating loudly in my cool breath
The words of many an elder echoed in my mind:
“Moose are more aggressive then bears.”
I instinctively touched the blade
That rested at my hip
Foolish to think that such a weapon
Could disengage such a large beast so strong
I couldn’t feel the beast charging
Though I looked to check just in case.

I didn’t relax until I was over the next bend
Which didn’t take long to get
The familiar sound of a creek returned to my ears
No longer wise words warning and uncontrolled heartbeat
Echoing through my every breath
I softly observed the old man’s beard
Growing thicker as I descended into the valley below
Moss crawling higher up trunks of the silent giants
Experienced woods folk always say
That the birds will all be silent when there’s a predator around
So the light whistling of the forest’s inhabitants
The unique call of a raven
Calmed my senses once again.

When I reached a small opening
I dipped my hands in and splashed the fresh creek’s water
To my face, to wash the cold sweat that had gathered
I recognized bear droppings
A short distance from where I sat to rest
Looking at least a week old now
No danger for me, at least for the present
But a sign that they are around
And perhaps some tasty berries, too.

part VII

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Rolling Along (day 1941)

A long way from home
And two coyotes howl into the night,
Pale moon’s looking me in the eye,
And I don’t got no campfire going tonight.

A saddle’s a lonesome companion
But this trusty steed’s sure good to me,
Four hooves and a long mane
And my dusty trail goes on.

A valley’s spread is my eager eye
Around every cresting corner,
Naming trees and flicking bees
And I’m just rolling along.

Morning in the Forest (day 1879)

As morning shakes its view to sight
A squirrel says hello
And repeatedly I hear a coo
Coming from a morning dove
Seeing sweet sun at last.
Chirps and burps make their way
About the valley floor
For everywhere, in deforested alcoves
Are packed as many can fit
In summer campers
In expensive tents
And some even in hammocks to swing!
And I begin what’s friendly to me
A routine I’ve come to enjoy
First I feed, then I sip
Upon the best things I can fix.

Ode to a Valley (day 1764)

If I were an eagle
I’d be here, soaring free
Sweeping through your narrows
Upon gusts that never slow.
And if I were a rain cloud
I’d pass by every time
To feed this valley floor with
Water, for to see you forever full.
And if I were a hungry bear
I’d find my way to you
To feed upon your wild berries
And fish upon your stream.
And if I were forever wiggling
My white tail, bounding free,
I’d seek your meadow pasture
To fill my belly overflow.

wild valley near Faulkland, BC

Thoughts for a Girl in High Country (day 1717)

If a robin came and sang to me
For you I’d wish my ears to be
Lifting lightly with a thousand sprouts
The reddest ribbons of my soul.

If a sparrow circled above my gaze
For you I’d wish it’s wings to be
Spring is here as I’d look out
Along the valley, home at last.

If a bluejay held it’s head up high
About the post up in the sky
For you I’d wish a seat beside
Ever last, a Queen, my pride.