Sunday, December 2, 2012

Winter's Kiss Reminds Me Of My Grandfather

A lovely dusk just north of Fort Yates, N.D.
A Reflection:
Childhood Remembered 
By Dakota Wind
FORT YATES, N.D. - The morning arrived on the Missouri River valley with a slow swell of purples and reds. The air hung heavy with a thick curtain of fog which slowly dispelled as early morning became go-to-work morning. The fog had turned to frost and heavily clung to every surface. Windows became frosty effigies of stained glass with fantastic whorls and impossible leaves. The trees had clothed their bare winter branches with thick delicate coats of frost. The trees were so heavy with frost that the morning shadows they cast were as the summer shade again.

I started the car, my little beast, and he came to life rather reluctantly, as though he would rather sleep in. “I feel the same,” I said and patted him on the roof. I imagine another man in the days of warriors in the same spot I stand, rousing his horse and talking to it in a like manner.

In the old days, when fog smothered the land with its cool, almost tangible embrace, it was an in between time and an in between place between our world and the next. Some might leave a pinch of tobacco or an offering of food for the spirits visiting the people. My grandmother shared a tall glass of water with the world and gave thanks for living.

There’s frost on my windshield and for a moment I regret that I must scrape away winter’s kiss on my little beast. I spend a minute tracing the stitches of frost on my window, lost in thought, and I am reminded of my lala (grandfather) just then. Though we lived maybe six blocks from school, he insisted on giving my brother and me a ride on the coldest days, sometimes even when it was warm too. Wordlessly, we did a lot of things without words it seemed but I cherish the memories, he would rouse his car and scrape its windows and I would watch him scrape from inside the car and we would share smiles when he cleared my window.

...for a moment that I am my grandfather and he is me...

I felt the sweet heavy pang of memory in my heart as I cleared my son’s window. He’s eleven now. When he was a toddler and sat in a car seat in the back, I scraped the windows in wintertime and we would share smiles and wave as I cleared his window. For a moment, I saw that little boy again waiting in my car and I wonder if that’s how my lala saw me, a juxtaposition of past and present sharing the same space. By looking at me and smiling, did he see the future? Did he see my son reflected in my eyes? I like to imagine, in the in-between times like dawn, and the in-between spaces created by the fog, that for a moment that I am my grandfather and he is me, and I can feel love surrounding me, holding me, lifting me, as I look on my son. Maybe, just maybe if look carefully I’ll see my grandsons as he looks to me and see his grandfathers.

I hate measuring time, but the world I live in draws me from that place of fog and frost and memory. I get in my pony and put on some Def Leppard. I indulge my imagination once more, and see a warrior dusting off his blanket and settling it on his horse’s back before getting on. I settle into my seat and buckle up, and he straightens his pony-drag (travois). I am ready for the day and my work is the hunt.

It’s my turn to take my son to school.