The smell of coffee the way his wife made it always made him smile and greet the day. He slept in this particular morning and the house was empty.
He felt good to see the world from his house. Everything seemed fresh and peaceful. Even the fresh blanket of snow that had fallen seemed so harmonious with the horses and other farm animals.
His favourite horse walked towards him from the barn and it seemed like he was saying “lets go for a ride” before the fence stopped him. He always loved his “war pony”.
He watched his sister getting ready to feed all the livestock. She was a good woman who grew up with strong tradition and knew well her role as a mother and sister. He noticed that she looked particularly sad this morning. Maybe she was just remembering her husband that passed away a few years ago and how much she loved him. They raised their children in a loving way until he got sick and had to leave her to raise them without him.
He remembered how they looked at each other and smiled away with their secrets and that passion showed when they argued. Whoa!… there were some doozy of an arguments, but it was always with words, and they were never about degrading each other because he knew they would end up apologizing to each other in a few minutes and go back to laughter. That’s what he remembered.
He thought that he should go out and help her but he felt that it was her time to be alone and not for him to interfere with her so he just watched as she hauled hay out to the corral and to the barn.The horses just followed her and the pitch fork full of hay as they tried to get ahead of each other and steal a little of the hay before they had to share it.
Soon all the horses and animals were fed.
She still looked sad though.
He remembered back to his youth as he watched and drifted off to the memories of riding with his Isaugha (Grandfather). He saw the dreams he knew would be dreamed as they approached his mind.
“Are you ready to go riding Grandson?”
The voice was so clear that he quickly looked around but seeing no one yet he felt his grandfather so close by.
Dreaming of the days when he became a scout. Laughing as he rode and howling like a coyote because that’s what coyotes did when they were being tricky.
He existed in that realm of long ago times when he rode his horse. When the thoughts came pouring out of his head like blood looking for creeks of wrinkles to run down his face. They were free to flow down to his mouth where they emerged as voice.
That is what people knew of him and he was well respected in the community.
He cried a little bit at that thought. A lifetime of experiences that so many wore as reality’s bandages. Not really bleeding nor really healed. The people just carried on. He saw as the people started to wear the scars of apprehension and lived to survive at all costs. Even at the expense of being loved and knowing how to love family, relatives and family. They walked the illusion of reality that was not. Still they carried on.
He remembered riding towards the morning sun. His Isaugha telling him story after story about long ago and then singing a song to go with the story. They would ride until they needed rest and the horses need to drink. No call to watch the horses. They would just go into the river and drink until they felt full and then come back to eat grass peacefully around them. Isaugha always packed a lunch that he carried. Kunshi would make them sandwiches of whatever was handy and they had their old lard pail to make tea with over the open fire. This time it was Indian Steak with lots of mustard and lettuce. Mmmmm what a treat it was to be there. Isaugha always encouraged him to remember what he told him so he can pass it on long after he was gone.
This is where dreams lived. The horses carried the dreams on their backs. and helped him to recite vision after vision with the twilight’s medicine as they rode into the night and on to the next morning. The realities of respect were clear then and he used that to speak the truth, as best he could remember, to people.
He and his wife did not have children. They met later in life and both had traveled roads that were filled with past relationships and the sweet and bitter tastes of them all. Yet they found comfort in each others arms and he loved her as she was. There were no barrages of carefully chosen words that complicated things. Just true outbursts of affection. He could hear what she couldn’t say and he said: “One of these days baby I am going to be the man that you feel safe with.” So went their lives. She was gone that day when he woke up and the loneliness of her missed presence saddened him for a moment. It was the smell of coffee that reminded him of her love.
Again he felt something familiar that he had not experienced in a long time.
He looked out the window once again and saw his sister saddling up one of the horses. Maybe I should go with her he thought. Get back to the days when we would ride out to escape chores only to know they would have to do them later even if it was dark. His sister was his constant companion in their growing up years and he watched out for her all the time. Times when boyfriends tried to take advantage of her built on romanticisms of ownership, and make her scared, only to run back to him so he can do the big brother thing which usually was just to jump on horses once again and go chasing visions.
Somehow he knew this was different and she needs to ride alone.
She got up on her horse and started to sing a mourning song and wept loudly. It scared him a little but it felt calming as well.
“Are you ready to go riding again Grandson?”
He turned around again and saw his Isaugha standing there smiling.
“I got you your favourite war pony again.”
“We have been waiting for you to join us. Even your dad is here.”
He looked past Isaugha and saw so many relatives he had not seen in such a long time. His heart was filled with all the visions of his life
“Brother I miss you so much. I don’t know how to go on… you took such good care of me when my husband passed away…..”
“All I have is the memories that we shared. I will look after your wife and watch over our family now. I am sad but I will do this because I loved you brother… Please say hello to mom and dad for me…..”
She turned the horse to the north and rode away into the morning crispness. The fire burning in her heart. She will carry on….
“Lets go explore the great mystery together Grandson. Its really good.”
(March 23, 2017)
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