Sunday, September 25, 2016

Fall Pow Wows....and Preparing

Yesterday, we released the small Box turtle we were fostering back into the wild, so that he could eat eat eat before his hibernating instincts kick in. I had planned to keep him a couple more weeks, but I grew weary at seeing him pressed against the side of his container, little feet up, looking out. Confinement, even when well-intended, can seem so cruel sometimes. And while it pained my heart to let him go, I knew it was the best thing for him in those moments.

Look closely...
My son is becoming a very confident, independent young man who also desires freedom, a bit more right now than I am honestly willing to give. Like the small turtle, he wants out - out into the world. He uses terms like 'quest' and 'adventure' and I can remember being his age and asking my own parents for permission to sleep alone in a tent at the far end of our property. The small turtle took baby steps into the wild; my son wants to run and leap into it as most young men do. And while I don't want to confine him, I am still a mother, and mothers hold on tight. We also prepare - prepare our homes, prepare food, prepare our young to go out into the world. The first two things we do instinctively, sometimes almost mindlessly, it seems. The last one, well....

This weekend we attend the Palmetto American Indian Association's 10th Annual Powwow. 

Grand Entry
Grand Entry
 Summer here in the South is intensely hot; we spend more time indoors that usual, too much time indoors, really. So when Autumn finally comes around, it's liberating, and weekends are sacred times spent together, getting out more often, and attending as many Autumn powwows as we can. 

I grew up attending and dancing in pow wows; it was a huge part of my youth and some of my best memories with family are from pow wows. I introduced my son to pow wow dancing as soon as he could take a few steps; he was 4 when he danced solo for the first time. Of course, in keeping with tradition, all of his regalia was handmade by me or passed down to him from someone else. I danced too, and was thrilled to be passing on to him these traditions.

Solidarity with Standing Rock is so important right now.
Last year's rains and subsequent flooding meant that we didn't attend any fall pow wows at all. It took us most of the winter to recover and come spring pow wows, we were still catching up, it seemed. Then the smothering, stifling heat of a Southern Summer settled in all around us. I read. Painted. Took long (and very early or very late) walks with my son. Took care of home and hearth. Gardened. Played. Lived. Loved. But we didn't go out and about too much, especially during the middle of the day. Naps took the place of afternoon outings. 

Edisto River on the drum
Pow Wows are much more than dancing. Culture, history, the ways of our people...this is a place to learn, a place where it all comes alive.
However, the first cooler days of fall have gotten us up and at 'em early on Saturday mornings, eager to get out more often, to quest and adventure, to hit the pow wow trail, see old friends, make new friends, teach my son, as he steps towards becoming a man, the importance of culture and heritage. To instill in him the stories and the traditions that will guide him on his path.

We watched the little turtle we released for a good while, watching the path he made as he went deeper and deeper into the woods, further and further away from us. We could only choose when to let him go; we couldn't choose for him what trails he would make or follow. My heart ached just a little as he disappeared from sight, making his way, instinctively.

With our children it is like this, times infinity. We spend so much time preparing them that we don't even think about what we are, ultimately, preparing them for. We just do it, instinctively. In the three hours since I began writing this post, I had to pause numerous times. I've washed the week's laundry and made breakfast, taken care of animals and checked on skinned knees. I've helped search for lost things, put a pot of beans on to cook for coming week's meals, hung laundry out on the line to dry and prepared the gift for my Mother's birthday celebration later today. I know very few artists, artisans and writers who have hours of uninterrupted time to hone their crafts. No. Most I know work in this same way - constantly pausing. Always preparing.

Fry bread life!
For the next few years I will prepare my son to move towards manhood. For the next few weeks, I will prepare for coming pow wows in Georgia and South Carolina. For the past few days I prepared the little turtle to be released. Today I prepare for the party this afternoon and food and clothing for the coming week. The morning is cool; the earth is letting go of summer to prepare for winter. 

Mothers are always preparing. 

I was inspired to go out to more Pow Wows this autumn by Evenbrite's Get Out More Often (GOMO) campaign, which is all about spending your money on experiences this fall rather than material things.  For information on how they can help you plan your next event, e-support ticket sales and other features, including discounted options for non-profits, please visit their event management page. For more information on pow wows in your area,visit or Six Directions Traders Pow Wow Page.

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