Write It Out: Instruction Video
“I chose a rooster that was young and strong, his comb a deep lustrous red. Unlike the others, he refused to run. Instead he turned to look at me with a calm eye, almost as if he knew what I asked of him. I scattered a handful of chicken feed and waited until he had pecked every last seed from the frozen ground. I thanked him. Then I carried him behind the barn, slit his neck with my knife, and hung him from a hook until the blood had drained from his body.
When the rooster was gutted and plucked, I carried him to the kitchen, where my big soup kettle was waiting on the stove. I drew water from the well, ice-cold and sweet, to use for broth, and added dried onions and herbs from the summer’s garden. When the meat had cooked long enough to leave its bones, I added late-harvest carrots and potatoes. Followed by the thípsiŋna from the woman at the doctor’s office, dried and stored in my pantry the past three months. Scrapings from my last twigs of wild ginger. As I worked, I sang quietly, repeating the same phrase over and over again. Wakháŋ Tháŋka, toka hey, cewakiye . . . The few words I remembered from a song my father once taught me.
I turned the kettle down to simmer, allowing the soup to cook slow. When the kitchen was fragrant with thyme-scented steam, I carefully filled a bowl with clear broth and set it on a tray with a cup of warm cedar tea. I carried it upstairs and knocked once on John’s half-open bedroom door. Only his eyes turned to greet me, returning from whatever it was he watched through the window. Today, perhaps nothing more than winter’s frost on the glass. I had long since stopped seeing his shrunken self, this bag of bones that could once ride a tractor for twelve hours or more through his fields. Now he lay broken like the ridge of corn stubble left after harvest.”
I loved reading this book so much! There were so many different sections I could have chosen to use as story prompts; there is so much magic in this book. Magic related to seeds, connection, and growth, among other things. In the end, I chose the quote above because right now, here where I am, it is winter. The season in the story is also winter, as identified in the third paragraph above. It is also the end of a character’s life.
Winter represents both endings and pre-beginnings. The end of a life is the beginning of a new stage – a new stage in the stars as “ancestor”. Winter represents the wisdom of elders: the accumulation of wisdom from a lifetime of learning, including all that came before. The kind of wisdom that is taught over generations and never goes out of style. The kind of wisdom that includes acceptance – acceptance of what is now, and of what is to come. Acceptance that includes an understanding of the circle of life, and the knowledge that all that is born and lives must also die. The acceptance that even in death, there can be birth. There is so much that we humans don’t yet know or understand, and I think that death (and what “happens” next) is one of those things. And isn’t that lovely.
Thoughts? Feel free to share them here.