Monday, August 11, 2008

huckleberry feast

to preface this blog i'd like to share with you an anecdote...i've been home now since july 4, 2004. since coming home life has been so multi-faceted there's just really no words to describe...but before i go on:

while working at an unnamed Indian organization in portland, oregon, i was once at a staff party in which the game "Indian Pictionary" was being played. it was fun and the words and pictures were got to be my turn and the word was "Culture" Now today, if you gave me that word there are a plethora of pictures i might draw for you but that day? i drew a picture of a yogurt cup...even had the words "nancy's" on the front...that's what "Culture" was to me, acidopholus culture:-)

i now scoff at such naivete and yet in the daily living of this "home" life i find that if one finds the necessity of describing our lifestyle and the word "culture" comes up it's usually by someone who doesn't really have a clue:-) but enough said on THAT issue.

yesterday was huckleberry feast...(now the DAY before yesterday)

i was ready to declare huckleberry feast as my favorite feast of the year but i just can't...that' sa different blog altogether...
So friday was picking day - i wasn't able to go out this year due to having been out of the office already a LOT so i offered to help cook for the gatherers which is a necessary part of the gathering. i met over at the longhouse kitchen with tut and dee and we cooked with all our good feelings and laughter for the gatherers. they got back and it's time to sing in the berries - this IS one of my favorite parts - we all stand in the longhouse on our sides and as the gatherers bring the berries in there is the bell ringing - it's amazing really, and to us, the huckleberries are our Big Sister. the gatherers stand in the wash beside the berries and we sing one song over them - it's a particular song but that's all i will say about that - each gatherer is given a chance to say a few words and some of them do yet another part of the deep richness of this feast. the berries are taken out with the ringing of the bell and then its time to eat - we gather in the annex for this, eating and talking and laughing and singing...where moments ago was awe and majesty you'll find the humorous going from bawdy to simple at our table. we are family.
a few chores are done and then everyone goes home...saturday preparations continue and sometimes a service in the evening then SUNDAY comes around and everyone shows up wearing their best longhouse gear; first the service while we ladies cook the dinner - by now the smells are beyond expression - rich buffalo broth intermingled with sweet cakes and pies; watery rivery (yes those ARE words!) salmon and pungent roots and chokecherries are all laid out - a colorful array of delicous adoration - we sing over the food as it's served, giving thanks to Creator for the salmon and deer and buffalo, the men serve these foods, then the women serve the roots and chokecherries and THEN it's time to serve the huckleberries! i couldn't help it, my knees were hurting, i was tired and hot but i HAD to do a little happy dance when i picked up my bowls to go serve...i do love the huckleberries!

dinner is served and on with huckleberry feast - one more song and we all have a "taste" of each of our Indian foods...i'm called on at my table to show the visitors how to take their taste and i turn to my sister Pam who started going to the longhouse at about the same time as i did in 2004..."look at us...we didn't used to know ANY of these things, had to be told how to do everything, now we know the words to the songs and how to show the taste!"
happy sigh....

1 comment:

JOY said...

oh how beautiful and yummy this post is! :)