Tag Archives: Winter

Betwixt a Star (day 2134)

Let me thank you for your moment
For loving me for a moment
I saw it in your eyes then
I saw it in your eyes.

Like finding a new blossom
Betwixt winter’s long cold
Your heart rolled open then to me
Your heart rolled open, then.

Which put a smile upon my face
So deep it almost hurt
Together we saw a galaxy afar
Together we saw our star.

Roan Short Tail (day 2124)

In the great time of y’or
When my Grandfather Thick Neck
Roamed these wild lands
His deer were thousands strong
And each Autumn they’d collect
From all four corners of
His vast kingdom
He had roamed all Summer
And would gather near
The great Big River
To Winter in collective warmth
The power was in their numbers
It was impossible for predators
To attack such a strong group
And in the darkest days of Winter
They had fellow deer
To remind each other
Of the bountiful Summer days
Coming soon again.

Mule-Deer watercolour painting by Ned Tobin

Winter, Run Over Me (day 2121)

Winter, where have you gone from me
Lost in the great thaw
Confusion melting all around
From your serene gentle cold heart
Keep me in a catacomb
A maze under the permafrost.

Winter, I remember days gone by
My mind shifts North: cloudy sky
Priceless antidote
Boiled water in a kettle old
Dried leaves in a mounding heart
Run over me, lost to darkness.

Inevitable Spring (day 2099)

My inevitable spring
Slopes Eastward from here
Awakened by long train stops
Eclipsing my moon
Which cannot bare to withhold
Another day without you
But without silent winter
I cannot let go of autumn
So carefully pruned
As knitters of cocoons
Lay under aurora borealis
To watch Icarus
Climb as a nighthawk
Like my midnight winter moon
Alone again
Lost in a scape of twinkling
And gravitas bound.

Jon-Jon Wood Oak (day 2085)

These days are long, my son
The grass hardly grows
And we must be keen and aware
To find what has been left
From the summer’s growing
See these cat tails?
They will do you very good
But the birch, poplar, and willow
Those will do.
For we are not the only ones
Looking for sustenance
In these cold, blizzardy days
No, let this be a reminder
That when the food is plenty
In the warm summer days of green
To eat and eat and eat some more,
For winter’s sure to come again
And we survive, oh, we do survive
We are survivors on what has been stored
During the summer days of green.

Moose watercolour painting by Ned Tobin

Moon at Midnight – Part XXXXXXV (day 2039)

(part XXXXXXIV)

For three days Willow and I sat
Meditating upon life
Watching the great herd of Elk
Graze the valley below
Laughing as we saw Elk calves
Running to suckle their mothers
And other Elk turning away curious calves
Who weren’t their own to feed
We felt their powerful teeth
Ripping out grass
And then chewing with their rolling jaws
Seemingly no other care in the world
We felt their combined
Powerful hooves rattle the earth
As they slowly came and then went
In their great migration North
Now that the winter ice shields
Were rapidly melting in the spring thaw
We felt their consistent calls
For whom did they send
And from where did the return come from
We could only guess the meanings
But warm breaths
Meeting the cold spring air
Continually sent steam spouts
Up from their great masses
We could smell them
The very essence that they were
In wild and natural pungency
That can mean so many things to the alert
And told us the story of their hardships
They had faced the previous winter
We saw their curiosity
With everything that they passed
Wondering if it was food
Or if it was predator
And if it was at all safe to be here
When they wandered close enough to us
The closest to us would jump back and be alerted
And the others beside it
Would also jump
And scuttle back towards the bulk of the herd
Many would get so close
That we could hear their powerful nostrils
Testing the air for security.

After the third day
We decided that we would take one home with us
So I sent an arrow through the heart
Of a male, ensuring the mother would be able to provide
For the calf until it was able to be on its own
As I dressed the Elk
Willow sent thanks to the Elk gods
For their offering
By evening we had made it out of the valley
And were set up camp by a small stream
Where we washed ourselves
And watched the stars.

part XXXXXXVI

Moon at Midnight – Part XXXXXIX (day 2033)

(part XXXXXVIII)

When we were sure that Willow had a baby
Basically everybody else knew, too
Things weren’t so secret within the family
I liked it that way
Different then what I had grown up with
We were very happy, of course
And Lily was excited too.

Moon Cow guessed that Lily was seven cycles of the seasons
I would have guessed something close to that
Had I to make a guess at her age
So she knew what it meant to be having a baby
And she also anticipated the responsibility
Her and Willow were so cute
As they began sewing baby moccasins that fall
With one of the deer hides we had brought home,
Lily also took on a lot more responsibility
With cooking and housework
That Willow wasn’t able to do too well anymore
And it was also nice to give Lily some responsibility
As she was growing and needed to learn
How to do some of the more family oriented things.

Lily was already really good at finding the herbs
And medicine that her mother had been teaching me
So before the first snow fell,
Willow was anticipating
Much of what she would need
Into her pregnancy
Many moons ago
Willow and Mercy had taken over
As medicine women of the family
After Willow’s own mother had died
They had always been inseparable as children
And as Willow’s mother
Had more then enough to share
She taught them both the medicine
So they could both help
And hopefully pass on the knowledge to their children
When the time came,
So Lily was able to learn from the ancient knowledge.

The Winter was relatively balmy
The snow would come and then melt a little
And then a little more snow would come
Followed again by the bright sun and warm weather
We would get these winds come through
That were as hot as the finest summer day
Where all the children would be out
Throwing snowballs and playing as they do
It was fun to watch
As nobody really likes being cooped up all Winter
And the sun is always needed
This time of the year.

I think it was because of the warm Winter
That Willow developed a cough
It was a deep cough that she said hurt her rib
That had broken earlier that year
When the bear had run her down
Some nights she would lie awake
Coughing away
Mercy and Lily fed her all the medicine they could find
But were also cautious about the baby
That awaited inside of her stomach
Poor Willow,
Some nights I would lie awake with her
Getting a warm rock from the fire
To put at her feet to keep her warm
And a cup of warm medicine water for her to drink
To hopefully put her to sleep.

part XXXXXX

Moon at Midnight – Part XXXXVIII (day 2022)

(part XXXXVII)

As Spring rolled around
Gurgling and bubbling and thawing and sprouting
We were all very excited
To feel the warmth on our faces
Without it nipping as frost bite
It was nice to have the first potluck of Spring
With what everybody had left
From their deep winter stores
I had just, a few days prior,
Found some fresh fiddle heads
That we fried up in some buffalo fat
And made lots of fresh stinging nettle tea
Which was a real nice treat for everybody that got some
Before they were all eaten up.

Mountain Chief had made a journey again
To talk to some of the other Chiefs
And learned more of the oppression
The U.S. Army and Government were bringing down
Upon the First Nation tribes
All along the continent,
That pleased none of us to hear
And we had a few nights of discussions about
If we should relocate even further into the mountains
But that soon died down with news
That the U.S. Army were focusing
Most of their efforts
Further to the East
On the other side of the Prairies
Mountain Chief continued to hold his stance
That we would side with neither the warring tribes
Or the U.S. Army as scouts.

Through the winter, Willow had been busy
Making new moccasins with the deer hide
We had caught in the Autumn
For us to wear in the new season
But we all refused to wear them
Until the thaw had finished
None of us wanted to ruin them
In the lingering wetness!
But every morning as I’d wake up
I would see them sitting there
Nearly gleaming in the darkness of the teepee
Waiting for me to put them on
I couldn’t help but think to myself
How much I now felt part of this family
How much they had accepted me
How much we all loved each other.

part XXXXIX

Moon at Midnight – Part XXXXV (day 2019)

(part XXXXIV)

The Winter season is a time of slowing down
Snow comes and one can no longer roam freely
Through the forests
Paths are easily identified,
Packed down by the feet that use them
If you venture off the path
One can expect a mukluk full of snow
However, in thick forest
The trees can stop a lot of snow from coming down
Even in the middle of Winter
One can find fairly shallow snow.

Upon the snowscapes
It just takes a few days of no snow
For tracks to criss-cross the land
It’s a trackers dream to see
Little paw prints going from here to there
Rabbits are usually the first to show up
And deer are always there too
It goes a long way to track in the Winter
Even if just for fun
To learn the patterns of the animal you’re tracking.

By mid Winter we had found our routines once again
In the village footpaths would go
From teepee to teepee
Making an elaborate maze of singletracks
My structured mind actually enjoyed
Seeing the perfectly followed and stamped down footpaths
Destroyed by some shenanigans
Most likely two kids playing rough
One getting thrown into the snow
Or sidestepping and falling as they let
An elder pass along the trail.

On the warmer days
Willow and I would sit outside our teepee
Drinking tea we had collected
From the root of the burdock plant
And the nettle that stings,
Both plants abundant in forests here
We shared a lot of information
About our past, about our knowledge of the land
She learned a lot of English in these days
And I learned Pikanii
We would point to things
And then try to remember before the other would,
Sometimes Lily would sit with us
She knew it was important for her to know English
The more white man like myself settled into the territory
There was no use trying to fight that
Even Mountain Chief knew this
Moon Cow, being fairly fluent in English
Had already been teaching Lily
Before I had arrived.

part XXXXVI

Moon at Midnight – Part XXXXIV (day 2018)

(part XXXXIII)

I work up early and there was a sense of calm inside of me
As I stepped outside to relieve myself
I realized the calm may have been coming from
A fresh layer of snow
The first snowfall of the Winter
There’s a beautiful calm
That exists only when large snowflakes are falling in the air
And when everything around
Seems to be muted, simplified
Like it’s all water.

I had my moccasins on making light footsteps in the snow
And as I turned around to go back inside
I faced the village
And saw a lone fox trotting through
On its way somewhere important
Such a delicate creature
Always alarmingly small
Yet incredibly smart
Sneaky.. crafty little buggers.

I made a little movement
And it noticed me standing there and stopped
Cocked it’s head to the side
As if to say: “Hello, what are you looking for?”
I cocked my head to the side and replied:
“I have been looking for you.”
It stayed like this for at least three breaths
Each breath I watched the fox
Through the steam of my breath.

We stood about 50 meters apart
It started slowly walking towards me
I didn’t move, it came to me
I thought to myself,
‘Why don’t you always keep
Some morsels of food to share with animals
In your pocket?’
For now would have been a great time to share
But alas, I could not conjure up the food
Nor could I probably feed this fox
Solitary creatures they are.

It came a few steps closer to me
Listened more intently
Then suddenly turned it’s head to Moon Cow’s teepee
And I looked in that direction too
And there was Moon Cow
Standing outside of his teepee
Just as I was doing
Watching me, watching the fox
And the three of us stood here for a few more breaths
And then the fox trotted off
In the direction it had been going
Before we had said hello.

part XXXXV

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