Trees Can Be the Best Friends of All


I am getting tired earlier and earlier every evening. The heat wears you out. We receive a call informing us about the death of G’s grandmother. That means that the puberty rite planned for Ashley tomorrow (including sand painting) has to be delayed for several weeks. She wanted me to be there, so we are a little sad that I will be missing it. But traditional laws are laws.

(From: I Continue My Traditional Studies)

Day 14, 16-06-02:

Tom returned during the night after a trip across the Rez. I am itching to talk to him, but events are taking off. Garrett shows up. He, Blackhorse and I are going to climb up the Second Mesa above the ranch to get some kind of special crystal for coloring wool.

Traditional weaving is hard physical labor. On our way across the ranch, we check on the water for the cows. Almost empty. We park the truck under an old, twisted juniper, put on sunblock (yes, natives can also get sunburnt) and start walking. After a few miles, the sun really begins to suck our strength. We have to stop every ten minutes to find some shade under the omnipresent rocks and drink some water. Higher and higher we climb in determined silence.

Blackhorse tells us that we have crossed into Ute land and that the tribes still continue their centuries-long warfare (in a little less aggressive fashion, they only rarely kill each other nowadays). We feel uneasy when we notice the smoke trails from a vehicle down in the valley. Well, this turns out to be a classic raiding party – in the best case scenario, we will get arrested.

Great … After another endless hour, we reach the spot where Blackhorse’s grandmother apparently used to gather the stuff we need for the weaver. There are glittering crystals everywhere, and we collect our loot, packing pounds of it into our already stuffed backpacks (on our way up Blackhorse told us about the properties of almost every plant we passed, teas, tobaccos, medicine … and we had to pick a lot). Pleased with our expedition, we slowly walk down the mountain and make our way undetected back to the truck.

After arriving home, the guys go over to the old aunt, who is an expert weaver and when they return, they tell me that the crystals we brought are useless. They look similar to the real stuff, but they taste different … the things one has to know …! We don’t know if we should laugh or cry – we are too tired for either. So we decide to drive to the cinema and watch “Windtalker”, a new film about the Navajo Code Talkers, who invented a code based on their language, which proved unbreakable, and became crucial for the US war in the Pacific. All screenings sold out. Off to dinner.

I left Tom a message at the house, but somehow things got screwed up. We give Gareth, who can hardly walk anymore, a lift home. As we flop on the couch to watch the news before going to bed, something strange crosses the floor in front of my toes. It turns out to be a scorpion on its way into the kitchen. After a moment of shocked confusion, it is killed and thrown out. At first, I wanted to capture it alive, but you don’t do that with animals that can kill you when you encounter them accidentally in your home – in the dark and barefoot. Lesson learned. Am I happy about the fauna and flora in Austria – what a blessing?

Tom has come home after having missed us narrowly in Farmington. We smoke a cigarette outside, catch up on events and he goes off to pack his bags for tomorrow morning. He is on his way home, and I have had enough for today. Be well, Shash. NativeNow! – Theatre – the daily online adventure – February 2006

Now, whatever has motivated you to visit our diaries and join this trip ‘cross the divide between “here”/”there” and “us/”them”, I’d strongly advise you to stop reading now. Yes, get out of the house, move your butt around your area, visit some friends, or trees (which, as some of us know, can be the best friends of all – even if they talk a bit slow … they are great to lean on …). Make slow but passionate love (or whatever way you like, of course) …

Well, you know best how to spend your valuable time, and valuable it is indeed. At least that’s what I have come to realise during the last month when life (or actually my own actions on the rebound … karma, I guess) kicked my head in.
 What, you are still here?! All right, then I suppose I am happy about you being part of this. Damn, who doesn’t want to share some experiences now and then, and at least when you are about to cross the threshold into the gray lands of total boredom you just switch off and walk away. Like in a romantic affair that’s gone sour … but that is another story.


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