NAI Heritage Writing Class Lesson #3: Write a Children's Story.
|Sweet, delicious flower scents were in the air. It was a bright, refreshing day. The longhouses were filled with activity. It was as if they too were awakening from the winter sleep. The time of the Flower Moon filled everyone with new hope and vigor.
"Grandfather, Grandfather," Yellow Feather's face was red and worried. "Come. I have found a hurt bird. We must help him!"
Chuckling to himself, Soaring Eagle lifted his aging body up as his joints creaked. He went to see what his grandson of eight winters, Yellow Feather, had found. He was such a kind, loving, and curious child. He was sturdy with beautiful deer eyes that touched hearts. His long ebony hair glistened. "Well, Grandson, let's have a look." The two walked up the hill a bit amongst the cottonwood trees, some Palo Verde, and the ever-present acacia. This is beautiful land you have shown to us, Mother Earth, thought Soaring Eagle.
"See! Right here it is, Grandfather. We have to help him."
Soaring Eagle put his hand up to cover his eyes and block out Father Sun as he looked around for a nest. He spied one just above his head and near where the baby bird lay.
"Can I take him home, Grandfather?"
"No, Grandson. Mother Earth has ways of dealing with humans and animals that are in need. If we move the bird, his mother will not be able to find him when she returns. If you were hurt wouldn't you want your mother to come and get you? If some strangers took you with them, then she might not ever find you."
"Mama would be very sad. She might even cry."
"I'm sure she would, Yellow Feather. And you are a very clever boy to understand that."
"But, what if the bird dies, Grandfather?"
"Then, Mother Earth has another plan for this baby. We must not question Mother Earth because she is very smart and holds all--even our animal brothers--in her big heart. She knows what is best for each of us."
"Come, Grandson, let's go down and sit by the beautiful creek while we talk of these things. Listening to the gentle brook should be a wonderful treat for us today. You might even get to see some beautiful Butterflies. Perhaps the Frogs will speak to us also."
"We must go tomorrow to see if the Bird has lived or died, Grandfather. If he has died we must sing his spirit to the Star People."
"You are very right. We will check the Bird tomorrow."
"Grandfather, will I be sung to the Star People when I die?"
"You have many seasons left. But, yes, your clan will sing your spirit to the Star People."
"What is death like?" Yellow Feather gazed at his grandfather. A Frog croaked just down stream.
Soaring Eagle laughed. "I can't tell you for sure. I am still good for a few more winters myself. But, I can tell you it is just another step in the Circle of Life."
"Circle of Life?"
"Yes, Little One, have you not noticed how everything in Nature is round? The sun? The moon? The seasons as they come and go? The growing season itself is circular."
"I have seen the round sun and moon. And, I understand the seasons come one at a time round and round and round. But how is the growing season like a circle?"
Not only is the growing season like a circle, but our lives mimic this also. The Circle of Life is simple, yet difficult to understand for one so young."
"I'm not young, Grandfather, I am almost nine winters old. I will understand if you explain it to me."
"Let me see. When man dies the body turns to the dust of the ground. Dust makes up this red ground you see here all around us. In spring we plant seeds and nurture them just as your mother nurtured you when you were a baby. As the plants grow, we continue to take care of them until they are ready to present us with their life-giving fruits to eat and enjoy. The rest of the plant dies and is turned under into the soil to nourish the soil for the next planting time.
"As you grow older you will do many things to help our people. You will raise your children and bring them up in the ways of our people. You will spend much time providing for family and brother. You will respect the Elders who carry our stories in their hearts and minds. You will pass into old age and teach your grandson, just as I teach you. All of these things that you will do are your way of nurturing our people. When you grow old and draw your last breath, your body will wither away into dust---into the ground that nourishes us with food. "The Circle of Life never stops."
"Will people walk on me, Grandfather?"
"It's possible. That's why the ground is sacred to the People. It holds our past and our future, just as the Storytellers do."
"When my spirit gets to the Star People, Grandfather, will I see you and Grandmother, and Mother and Father and my baby sister, Cheewa?"
"You are a very smart boy! Yes, you will join those who went before you. All spirits live among the Star People in the Sky and await our their loved ones who have yet to follow."
"Come, we must get back before your mother comes looking for us. She and Grandmother probably fixed us somethng good to eat."
As they walked back to the village hand-in-hand, Yellow Feather smiled at his grandfather with love. "I sure like being with you, Grandfather, and talking about important man stuff."
Soaring Eagle chuckled as he knelt to hug Yellow Feather. "You are special to me also, Grandson. I am very lucky to have such smart grandchildren as you and Cheewa."
(word count: 991)