Saturday, April 2, 2011

First Choice

By the shores of Gitche Gumee, by the Shining-Big-Sea water,
stood the wigwam of Nokomis, daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.

I knew the answer when asked as a kid, "What do you want to be when you grow up?," and I was sorely disappointed later when I found that becoming an Indian was not going to be an option.  I can't say how many times I read "Song of Hiawatha" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  I'd read everything I could get my hands on to be prepared.  Back in the day, shredded wheat came in big rolls like steel wool instead of little, sugar-coated mini-bites, and the cardboard dividers were a gold mine of Indian information.  I laboriously copied the pictographs so I'd be able to read and communicate when the metamorphosis came.  I wished there were more exotic animals so I could follow their tracks, instead of just the dogs and cats in my neighborhood.  Ah, well.  This was long before I learned of Custer's Last Stand, Wounded Knee, or the Trail of Tears.

I walk with my feet straight ahead and not splayed like a white man, and I can tread through the fallen leaves without a lot of noise.  One just never knows which early lessons might be valuable.  It came to me the other day that I must still move slowly and ordinarily speak softly at home.  Bessie Anne gets frantic and races ahead if I should go quickly from one place to another, and if I raise my voice at all ("Hello?!  Hello!!," to a bad phone connection), she barks madly.  She reads me for signs like I read tracks (there are many more animals here now than were in my childhood), and takes her cues accordingly.

If someone were to ask me now, I'd have to say that I don't know what I want to be when I grow up.  Obviously, it hasn't happened yet.  I knew the answer when I was a kid.


Kathryn said...

Ah...just think about it though...I'd say (read in best Native American voice and rhythm), "You made good transition, 'White Woman With Curly Hair!' You walk lightly in forest, sit on Indian Grinding Rock, and commune with Great Spirit's many creatures. Not only do domesticated animals trust you, but mice, squirrels, and turkeys feel safe in your presence and come to you for food. We sent you a message the other day telling you that you were one of us - you think Lizard normally trust White Man? From now on you are Native Indian in White Woman's bibbies - you just didn't notice that dream came true...we now call you BOcahontas!"

Bo said...

Oh, Kathryn, you outdid yourself with this one! Do you suppose Lizard was sent to be my totem? I'd sorta hoped for something a little more spectacular, but I guess when you transition at my age, you get the leftovers. You made my day!

Kathryn said...

'Tis a fair trade, since your blogs make my day so many times. Of course I had to look up "totem" and I don't have an answer - but maybe Lizard was just a precursor to something bigger. And even tho' I did throw in some humor, the more I thought about it, the more it rang true that you really do embody a lot of the qualities that I think of as Native American attributes, and I'm sure that Farview Farm sits on land that once sustained many Indians. Who knows...maybe in a past life...????