H2O ManH2O Man's Journal
The National Geographic channel will feature a new documentary, "America vs Iraq," tonight at 9 pm/est. The two hour program replays at 11 pm.
Those who were concerned with today's news about Syria, and possible/likely an increase in US involvement, might find it worth watching.
"Is that the falls?" my cousin asked, after bringing in the last of the rocks.
I had gathered 58 cobbles of white flint, and he had brought a load of white oak, for the day's ceremony. Usually, I build the platform for the rocks, and start the fire; my cousin is the door-keeper, and carries the rocks into the lodge. But today is an unusual day: he did the fire, while I showed an "under 30" apprentice some new things.
There are many people in the communities surrounding us who are suffering. A 15-year old girl had an argument with her mother, about the girl's new boyfriend. The girl decided to run away that night. Around 1 am, she was driving the boyfriend's car, and hit a family on their way home from an area Drive In. Both drivers were killed; four passengers are hospitalized. The boyfriend was thrown, and uninjured, from his car seconds before it exploded into flames.
People are hurt and angry. Many are blaming the mother of the girl. I think it is 15-year olds' jobs to do really stupid things; it is tragic when it costs lives. I have known the mother casually for over 30 years, and she does the best she is able. She works three part-time jobs, and has no type of insurance. She told me that she can't afford a funeral, then adds that there is only part of her daughter's skull left from the exploding car.
I have a casual connection to the family that lost a husband and father. They were a close-knit family, returning home after a fun night. Everything has changed for the rest of their lives, for those who survive.
These families live in two different towns; I live outside a third, that lies between them.
We entered the lodge to do the first round in the early evening. Other than the glow from the red-hot rocks, it is completely dark inside. The rocks make a crackling noise. We can smell the sage that the apprentice sprinkles on them. Then the sound of the water being poured on the rocks, and turning instantly to a very hot steam.
Outside, as the sun goes down, the song birds enjoy their last meal of the day. They have the prettiest songs. We can also hear the trout in the pond. I'm glad that my sons built this lodge near the pond, and that my daughters have created a system of bird-feeders here.
By the end of the third round, it is getting dark outside. My cousin brings in the stones for the last round. He comments on how quiet and still it is outside, as he brings some in. Finally, he is done, and closes the door flaps before finding his place to sit. It is then that he asks if that is the falls he hears? It is. But they are a quarter-mile away? They are, but sounds carry at night.
Chief Waterman used to tell me to listen closely to the voice of the creek. When Euro-Americans came here, the area was known by an Onondaga phrase that translates to: "the voice of the water sings."
Early the next morning, I go back out to the pond. Five weeks earlier, I had brought a painted turtle that I "rescued" from the highway out to the pond. She has remained there. When I bring out food for the fish, she comes over to the pond's edge, to eat her fill, too.
Turtles tend to look awkward and uncoordinated on land. She looks awkward and uncoordinated in the water, as well. I can relate to that.
After filling the bird-feeders, I sit quietly beside the pond for a few hours. Then it's time to leave the real world, and head back into civilization.
My daughter and I were leaving the parking lot of a grocery store, when I noticed an enormous snapping turtle attempting to cross the street. It is a "busy" street, with a 30 mph zone, but as there is a straight stretch at the edge of the town, many drivers speed. I pulled over to the side, determined to assist the turtle,
From late May to mid-June, I carry a coal shovel in the back of my vehicle, as turtles are out and about seeking prime territory to lay their eggs. While I do not use the shovel for the smaller types of turtles, decades of familiarity with snapping turtles has convinced me that a coal shovel works best. However, a couple of weeks ago, I had taken the shovel out.
The gentleman behind me also saw the turtle, and recognizing what I was attempting to do, he stopped his vehicle in the middle of the street, and put on his emergency flashers. Soon, traffic was lined up for some distance both ways. It was nice that no one seemed impatient, or beeped their horns, etc. This made me as happy as the sight of dead turtles along a road makes me unhappy.
All I had in the vehicle was a short section of rope. I would not advise attempting to use rope for snapping turtle crossings. Instead, I used my self, a tool that is not much quicker than the average turtle. In doing so, I noted this creature's head was about as huge as any that I've seen (so large a head, we might be related).
After getting it across, traffic resumed. People then beeped their horns, waved, etc. I then watched this turtle go down a mildly steep bank, and crawl into a small stream.
There is a lot wrong in this world. Our society has so many serious problems, that it can seem overwhelming at times. Our culture feels like it is spinning faster and faster, out of control. It's important, I think, to take the time to stop in situations like the one I found myself in yesterday.
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