Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Day Two: Coming to my Senses

I'm drying my hair upside down in the hotel room; I'm up close and personal with my red toe nails and I notice a scratch on my right leg. It's one of those long rips with white skin frayed on either side of a pink line. Where did that come from? Oh ya. When I was walking home from school yesterday through the Treaty 4 grounds hay field, one of those jumbo, ragged, swathed stalks got me. As I scrunch my hair, I think about scars.

I'm at the Kenosee Inn participating in an Internship Seminar. This afternoon my intern and I have amazing dialogue, considering everything from our personality types to what we believe about education; our fears and hopes; our strengths and weaknesses. Jade shares her best lesson in which she divided the city of Regina in half and then the kids had to negotiate a treaty with each other because each group had different resources. We laugh; we cry; we talk for three hours. We're getting to know each other, clarifying our expectations, bonding, all in preparation to create our own personal contract by Friday.

Back in the hotel room I phone my cousin Angela who will be keeping Arwen for another day. I'm feeling guilty because I've now left Arwen three days with "the cousins" and it wasn't planned, it just sort of happened... the whole it-takes-a-community-to-raise-a-child thing. Except, it seems that the Aunties are doing more of the child raising than I am. Angela and I have set up our own little trade, a contract of sorts. She will do hour-for-hour exchange of housework for guitar, dance, and art lessons for her kids. We have a little book to log our activities. After some good conversation, I tell her she should log some of these "extra" babysitting hours as part of our exchange.

I go for a walk before supper and find some chokecherries right outside the side of the inn. They are juicy and I eat a handful, spitting out the seeds as I walk down the hill, take a right into the woods, then find a path that leads out to the water. This Treaty 4 land at Kenosee has a smell all it's own: humid, sweet, earthy. I remember this smell from bible camp across the lake from the inn. In Fort Qu'Appelle we have a lot of aspen trees, but here I just love the whiter birch trees. Down by the lake the water is higher than I remember and I get some great shots of the reeds against the water against the distant hills. The day is now sunny, but still hazy from the morning's mist and rain. I am conscious of the fact that this treaty walking is heightening my senses. I see the purple flowers at the foot of the white birch. I hear the wind and birds. I smell the moss. I taste the bitter-afterness of chokecherry. I touch the rough bark of a fallen log.

As I type in the hotel room, thunder rumbles and lightening flashes.

Day Two: Kenosee Pictures

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Day One: Settling for Chokecherries

I lay in bed last night dreaming of my morning adventures. I remembered  hearing that treaties were more than just agreements or contracts, they were sacred. I contemplated sacredness, the things we hold holy, like marriage and motherhood. I lay in bed, imagining the insights I'd have to write about after my walking. I got up, had a bath. Lay back down. Kept writing in my head.

I woke up late. Arwen jumped out of bed as soon as I called her. We packed our things and hit the road. I drank my coffee walking down the lane and then left the mug in the trees. I took pictures: chokecherries hanging over the road; caterpillar on the gravel; ski hill with bales of hay; Governance Centre in the sunlight; Treaty 4 Grounds bleachers; flags hanging limp over the All Nations Healing Hospital; flowers; sage; thistles.

I looked at my watch. I was going to be late if I didn't pick up my pace. This was my intern's first day and I didn't want her arriving without a welcome. My knee was hurting. I had acupuncture two days before because I'd blown the knee playing slow pitch in July. I suggested we take a short cut over the railway tracks and highway, directly to the school. Arwen said, "But I'm wearing flip flops." I said, "Next time you do this with me, you're wearing runners." I took my jacket off, tied it around my waist, and picked up the pace for the long way. After crossing the highway, I phoned my cousin and Arwen biked right to her house. I walked into the school parking lot just as my intern pulled up in her car.

I was sweaty and a little achy. The sun grew stronger through meetings and set up planning. By 4:00 it was a hot, dusty summer's day and I had to walk home. Arwen was at the beach with the cousins, so I set off cross country, through our football field, over the highway (think I got honked at by a car way far away), and at the railway track I stopped and took a picture of the long rails, then I picked three rose hips and ate their outer vitamin C skin. I snapped shots of those rose hips, sage and pretty soon it was a full out photo shoot leading me into the Coop gas lot.

Cars whizzed past me, mostly leaving the Governance Centre and Parkland College. Got quite a few smiles. Met one other woman on foot at the hospital while I was taking pictures into the sun of the four flags whipping in the wind: Maple Leaf, Union Jack, Saskatchewan, and the Treaty 4 flag (I think.) "Nice day," I said. "Sure is," she said. There were some folks setting up a huge red and white tent at the Treaty 4 grounds. I think it's for a Christian tent meeting. There were some boys on the other side of the field and as I took a short cut across the field toward them, I realized they were lighting a firecracker. About ten minutes from home, the cousins honked and waved, bringing Arwen home. I pulled chokecherries off the trees and mushed them in my mouth, spitting out the seeds.

Day One: Pictures

Monday, August 29, 2011

Afraid I'm going to flake out

This past spring I started reading The Artist Way by Julia Cameron. She advocates writing "morning pages" and sometime last June, while writing about wanting to get into better shape, I came up with the idea that I should walk to school for a year. (Starting next fall, of course.) It wasn't long into this stream-of-consciousness morning rambling that the walking had a theme: as I walked to school, I would meditate on the treaties. You see, I live in Treaty 4 territory (as many do in Southern Saskatchewan), and because of where I live (past Fort Qu'Appelle's ski hill), if I was walking to school, I'd walk right past the largest inhabited teepee (so I've heard it called); the Treaty 4 Governance Centre; and the Treaty 4 grounds. So here's the confession, that might answer the question, "Why would a teacher need to 'meditate on the treaties'?" I've lived in Treaty 4 territory most of my life, (except for five years living in Black Lake,Treaty 8, and one year in Calgary... treaty ???), AND as a Saskatchewan teacher, I am expected to bring "treaty teachings" into my classroom; HOWEVER, I "know" very little about treaties. So, it's 11:34 pm, the day before the first day of school, a professional development day. I've gathered pencil crayons, air freshner, a new toothbrush, an internship guide, and my purse into my back pack; I've put my runners by the door; I've half decided what I'll wear; I've made a plan with my youngest daughter because she wants to ride her bike with me; I've made a back up plan if she won't wake up when I call her; I haven't checked the weather. Now, all that's left to do is get ready for bed, sleep, and then wake up in time to not flake out on this plan THE VERY FIRST MORNING.


  • Treaty Essential Learnings: We are All Treaty People, Office of the Treaty Commissioner, 2008