June 28


We have had a few quiet days; just the three of us with those splendid young warriors. But Dancing Grass and a dozen Oak boys arrived at dawn. Darkling Light will be moving on and we are faced with building a village. I sense a wave of humanity moving this way and we must make ready. Some of the boys will head out with Moondog to favored fishing holes. Others will haul in firewood and set our camp in order for a feast. The rest will come with me in search of berries, fiddleheads, and asparagus; so much to do, the race with the sun is on. We’ll feed a crowd tonight but tomorrow the real work will begin.

Like the clans every society has its own emblematic camp. I am excited to learn the subtle differences of each of them. Many of the materials will be hauled in by individual groups, thatch from the grasslands, bark from the Old Granite Range, rushes from the fens, a veritable smorgasbord of lodge worthy harvest. I can’t wait to see how it all ties together.

But in this moment I sit by the fire with Darkling Light in the matinal morning. For six interminably long weeks we will live separate lives again. Moondog joins us. The dew is heavy this morning, dripping like rain from the branches overhead, clinging to the fringe of flowers along the forest margin. Sings-in-Trees stokes the fire, the flare plunges us into momentary darkness. Dancing Grass has made tea, some cheerful concoction that tastes of raspberry leaves, mint, and honey. The weight in our heart lightens; we hug, smile, and hold back the tears. We assure each other it is only a few short weeks. Morning breaks. Dancing Grass and Darkling Light depart without a word.

All of our boys have wandered into camp, eaten, and are ready to go. Moondog and I shake off our despair and set ourselves to the day’s rhythm. His team quickly accesses their gear and heads off. Mine and I collect our baskets and bags. All of them are experts in the surrounding terrain and I am more than happy to let them take the lead. They know where grows the very best currants, the most delectable strawberries, the miniature groves of fiddleheads, and stand after stand of asparagus.

To our delight we have found red clover flowers and those of meadowsweet and veronica. We have come across a meadow full of wild carrot blooms and melissa. And we have found wormwood just before spotting the beehive. My only question is, who among us has the courage to smoke that hive and steal some honey? Sings-in-Trees. He mentions he has been wondering for days where the hive was hidden and he is determined now that it has been found. While I worry the confidence of youth assumes control.  Some gather and bundle the wormwood, others build a small fire, and Sings-in-Trees studies the hive. Six bundles of wormwood smolder on the fire. Sings-in-Trees and two other boys have grabbed them up and slowly move toward the hive, whispering and gesturing signals about their final approach. In moments bees go from merely perturbed, to furious, and finally to subdued. I am holding my breath. One boy waits with an open sack while Sings-in-Trees hands out dripping fistfuls of honeycomb. At first they appear nearly swarmed by the bees and I gasp. But as those Immortals move tentatively towards us, the bees drift back to their busy world; not a single one of them has been stung. It was a terrifying marvel to watch the interplay, the anticipation each held for the others, the cooperation of a group that knew precisely what it had to do, and just how to do it. The fire has been put to rest and we head back to camp. We have miles to cover and our day has just begun. We know that whenever Moondog and his group return the catch will be ample and the fish ready to cook.

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