Monday, July 23, 2018

Travelers' Tales

They live in a vanishing Eden, their spirits close to the land and the animals upon which they rely. Captured by another tribe, a new tribe- kwet'ı̨ı̨̀  - (Stone House People/Whites)--two teens are placed in a residential school patently designed to "kill the Indian inside," by taking away their language and belittling their culture. Yaotl and Sascho arrive as sweethearts; in order to survive as whole beings, they absolutely must escape. 

Storytelling, at least to this writer, is a kind of trance journey on which I hope to take my reader. The way may go through beauty or horror, boredom and sometimes horror.

Yaotl and  Sascho were born among the Tlicho, a perople for whom long on-foot journeys were a way of life. The early 1950's in the subarctic, where the story begins, is a land where many 1st nation's People live more or less as their ancestors have for 10,000 years, following the seasonal migration of caribou. 

Fly Away Snow goose is a captivity-and-escape story--the mirror image of the ones I read long ago where white children are carried off by "Indians."   Yaotl and Sascho suffer a variety  of trials that could all be filed under the 21st Century definition of "abuse" while being schooled in European norms at a Catholic run residential school. 
In the spring, like the Snow Geese, they yearn to travel North and Sascho, whose confinement is not as harsh as Yaotl's, finds an ally who will help them escape, riding the Mackenzie river northwest. Their courage and endurance and their  childhood education,living off the land, will be all that stand between them and death as they start the long journey which they hope will return them to their families.  


I went camping last week but am now sitting here, typing away while feeling exceedingly grungy because I have not yet had a bath. The house in which I sit has a cat-hair-on-the-floor problem of a high magnitude. As I type, the felines are yelling at me because they are mad that I went away.  Willeford has given me his welcome home bite, just to remind me who is the boss around here.

In my camp experience, I  did not sleep on the ground or among the leaves. I did not wear the same clothes until they fell into rags, like Yaotl and Sascho--although I sort of felt like that by the end of the muggiest days. It made me realize once again how pampered we are, but, oh, Lord! How I love the comfort of  my own bed, in a room where the potty is just a few easy steps down the carpeted hall--instead of over roots and mud and rocks. At 2 a.m. it might as well be in the next county!

On the way to camp there were some trials and tribulations. (Nothing of course when compared with any challenge my characters faced.) Today's trials are of a particular kind and are often automotive. We no longer paddle a canoe or walk to our destinations. We zoom along on Interstates at 65 mph (or more!) until a sea of red tail lights appears causing us to brake like mad. Then, it's stop and go for the next hour, advancing what seems to be a mere car length at a time until the road work or the traffic accident which caused the slow down appears on one side of the road or the other.

There was a traffic delay on the way to camp, an inevitable part of driving. The worst part was that I actually had to come face-to-face with the broiling July weather while the car sat on the  shimmering pavement. Windows down, the sun drummed on the roof of my old a/c-less VDub,  Boy, was it HOT! Diesel fumes were--fortunately--blown off a breeze, so I strategized my movements, a pilot fish beside a whale, in order to take full advantage of some long-haul behemoth's shadow.     

~~Juliet Waldron

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1 comment:

  1. Fly Away Snow Goose was a wonderful read showing the determination and spirit of the two young people doing their best to return to their homes and families.