I Feel Above Me the Day-Blind Stars
Waiting with their light
Boozhoo! Aaniin! Welcome to another edition of An Irritable Métis. It’s been a rough couple of weeks in the world, hasn’t it? I originally started out making reference to all of it in this introduction but then asked myself why? I don’t want to think of any of it, not today anyway, which in itself is a luxury and a privilege that I fully recognize. I also recognize I could use a breather, and this is that. To my right is my buffalo calendar and it is telling me that today is the International Day of Peace. If you want to learn what it’s all about and enrich yourself with a few dismal facts, click the link. But thinking about the broader idea of peace seems more worthwhile than anything else right now. So that’s what I am going to do.
I do want to mention that I’ve got an idea for another paid subscriber-only photo post. This time I want to show you the CSKT reservation to the north of me. That post will hopefully be appearing in the next week or two, so if you aren’t inclined to miss out, well….
What is peace? When do you feel peaceful? For me they tend to be stolen moments, especially in the morning. Particularly lately, with Fall – Dagwaagin in Ojibwe – on my doorstep. The smoke has cleared and the light is magnificent, even at its palest hint on the eastern horizon when I first venture out to the back deck to watch; the moon, shrinking, has been bright, and despite the glare of neighborhood lights I can see Jupiter, Mars, the Pleides, and the Big Dipper. Most of us know the Big Dipper as Ursa Major, the Great Bear, but to the Ojibwe he is Ojiig, the Fisher. The fisher is a constantly moving relative, just like the constellation, and that is why we think of him so.
Perhaps you too might find peace in this changing light, whether it is filtering through the changing colors of our trees, reflecting off the surface of a river (as it was the Clark Fork earlier today for me) or in how it may highlight the features of someone you hold dear. This is a good time to tell the world and everyone in it that you appreciate them, that you love them. That you are happy you have made it through the summer with them.
There is a sadness that can come with Dagwaagin, in the early decay and the absense of birds, in the end of the perceived freedom of summer, but sadness doesn’t have to be all bad, does it? I’m eager for the chill. I embrace these growing-cold mornings. I am even ready for the shorter days. I am ready for the festivals honoring our ancestors, for the lighting of candles, for flannel and wool and the smell of food that has simmered all day.
I do admit that the longest stretches of peace for me have come when I have been unconnected to the internet. In the warm light of the cabin I spent most of a week in last February in Yellowstone; several days on the Blackfoot River last June even when – especially when! – it was cold and wet and windy; then again in the tipi in Yellowstone in August. I felt peace, yes … but also gratitude for all the circumstances that put me in position to be these places. As the year winds down it is never too early to remember these moments, is it? To remember how we felt, and feel again the gratitude. Always the gratitude.
“In the name of daybreak and the eyelids of morning and the wayfaring moon and the night when it departs, I swear I will not dishonor my soul with hatred, but offer myself humbly as a guardian of nature, a healer of misery, a messenger of wonder and an architect of peace.” — Diane Ackerman
Friends, what brings you peace? When are you most peaceful? Despite all the anger in the world, some of it increasingly necessary, how can we remain “messengers of wonder” and “architects of peace”? Is that a silly question to ask? Is it too “white lighty” or corny to consider? Perhaps. But as Jim Harrison said, “I would rather give full vent to all human loves and disappointments, and take a chance on being corny, than die a smartass.”
The wind is in the cottonwoods outside. The light is perfect, the sky an unassailable, pale blue. Miigwech for all of your time and attention.
Missoula area friends!
This Sunday the 25th, 5pm, @ Fact & Fiction! I’ll be reading or something.
Great Falls area friends!
Tuesday, October 4th, 6pm, @ Cassiopeia Books! I’ll be reading and jibber jabbering.
All my Anywhere friends!
Tuesday, October 25th, 6:30pm via Zoom. It’s free but you have to register first. You may do so by clicking HERE or the image above. I’ll be bloviating.
If you read poetry at all you’ve likely read this one. Even if you don’t read poetry it’s possible it has crossed your radar because it is a classic. It is the immortal Wendell Berry, originally from his 1968 book Openings, but I’m taking it from his New Collected Poems that was published in 2012. It’s a good one, especially today.
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