Monday, July 8, 2019

Call of the homeland

The sun was setting over the lake. Shades of yellow, pink and blue reflected from sky to water. Mountains loom behind us seemingly asking what we are doing here. Here. Here in their vast wildness. Here is the reality of past and present.

After twelve hours in the car with five people packed like sardines, we arrived in Polson, Montana. Flathead Lake stretched before us reflecting the sun waiting to set. Shades of pink, yellow and blue scattered across the water. The air is fresher, the water deep and wonderful, the mountains hiding mountain lions, black and grizzly bears, moose and deer. A zoo wild in its own habitats.

It was dusk when we arrived at the reservation. Tiny houses and trailers dotted the streets and fields. In 1970 I had been on a reservation in Arizona. This same scene greeted me way back then. The poverty and culture of a nation still trying to make a home on land they did not choose. Tears stung my eyes. I could not turn away nor get my thoughts around all this beauty and what was done to the people who our country belongs to and who in turn belong to it. Freedom was not theirs. And, for a few days, I will mourn their loss even more than usual.

My niece Jobi is of the Flathead tribe; therefore, she owns this piece of land overlooking the lake. Her children can not inherit this home once she is gone unless they marry into the tribe. I get it. And, for this family, every moment here is priceless. Jobi left Montana when she was three. My sister and her husband adopted her and moved her to Indiana with them. We all fell in love instantly with this beautiful girl. Yet over the years, her voice has yearned to answer the call of her homeland.

This is all quite timely. I just finished sending my DNA in to check my lineage. For all the years we were told we had Native American blood, I find that indeed I have none. So I really am an immigrant. I am mostly French/German, Swiss and British/Irish. I am more than a half breed. I am a breed so diluted that there are no numbers to cover the genes that have feed into my little pool of DNA. 

Birds are singing. The scat from a black bear was found in the yard this morning. My niece faced off with a mountain lion in their driveway some time ago. Eagles perch in their trees and the earth is alive with bird song. Hm. These animals, too, are native to this land. Yes, I am the intruder.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Shoes of a different color

Hers didn't match. In fact, one shoe wasn't even hers. One belonged to Gabby's friend. The girls decided that they would have a little fun and wear two different shoes. Funny I never thought of that before. I am pretty good at coming up with weird, unusual ideas. Then I began noticing something else. Something more than footwear.

Emma has a drawer full of socks. When she gets them out, they match but don't. One might have a bird on it and the other with a frog and the same background. Or maybe the critter matches but the background is different. It is a bit mysterious this 'unmatched match-up." 

And again, I find myself looking around. Not just those of my grands, but those of other kids. Shoestrings mismatched. Tights not matching the shirt. Shorts conflicting with a sweater. My mind was swirling with possibilities I had missed.

We are getting ready to go out tonight. I have a new, shorter haircut that is an interesting challenge. I want one side to match the other. No matter how hard I try, one side turns to the back and the other to the front. Now, I ask myself (which I do often), why do they need to match. Why can't I just have fun and do it my way. I was raised that everything needed to match. I always felt that I needed to look like everyone else. And we all did! None of us knew that we did not need to follow the same old path. We could dare to be different and if no one liked it, that was their problem. But we never thought of it. Hm. 

It isn't just about clothing. Nor is it about matching other people. It is truly about finding yourself. Maybe finding a new self every day. It is about having a voice and not being afraid to be different. Seeing yourself in new ways, finding new ideas, doing things for yourself you have never tried before, are all possibilities we missed long ago.

Yes, I found out something that day I saw two different shoes. I found that my granddaughter was not the copy of her mother or grandma or any of her friends. She dared to be different and own it. Now that is pretty awesome. Makes me wish I were a kid again.

So tonight we are going out. My hair is a combination of all the genes that are on my DNA chain. Maybe one side of my family looked forward and the other looked back. I seem to be the result of my past and the enlightenment of the future.  Now I can wear all my mismatched socks that have lost their partner. Ah, shoes of a different color.