Deep Breaths and Canoes…

Day #26

Deep breaths, counting backwards from 100 and singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star were, today, my methods of survival. For whatever reason I found our camp planning session this morning to be extremely tedious, circular and frustrating. Various factors contributed to this feeling of deep frustration, but at the end of it all we did have a plan, and I managed to keep my wits about me. You can add patience, self-control, timing and more patience to the list of things that I have learned during my first few weeks here in Fort Hope. Normally I wouldn’t be able to maintain such levels of calm, but I have come to realize that my ability to compromise may ‘make’ or ‘break’ my remaining 5 weeks.

Anyway, the long and the short of this morning’s experience was that we managed to hash out a relatively comprehensive and coherent plan for the looming 3rd week of camp. Nature is our theme this week. We are hoping to tie into next week’s community camping trip. We will be losing most of our kids to this event, so we are going to try and support it with our camp program this week.

I was kind of at loose ends after our planning meeting. I was about ready to toss an apple against the wall, but like I said, I was able to control myself and slowly I simmered down. I occupied the next few hours working on my ‘C’ chord strumming skills. I am making painstaking progress in my quest to teach myself the guitar…It is going to be an extremely slow process, and I have a tendency of wanting to run before I walk, or play a song before I learn my chords. I think I pretty much have my ‘C’ chord down, and I’m almost there with my ‘G’. The guitar playing didn’t exactly calm me, it just sort of transfered the frustration to another object, so I suppose it was an effective distraction. Then (you can tell by this that I was at loose ends) I spent about a half an hour doing a circular ‘surfing’ of the internet. One of those ones where you keep going back and forth between the same 4 websites hoping that something has changed in the 2 minutes since you last visited. It was a little pathetic…The one thing that I did discover during this time wasting excercise was that Tom Watson was sadly not able to hold onto the British Open title in golf. It would have been a great story, one for the ages if 59 year old Watson had been able to win the tournament, but, it was not meant to be.By this point in the day I was rather frustrated with myself for not doing anything productive, so I picked up my latest literary adventure, Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden and settled in for a couple of chapters. I don’t really have a ‘read’ on the book yet, as I am only about 50 pages in, but the opening stanzas have set the stage for a thickly layered, culturally rich novel. I’ll give you a little bit of a clearer description of the novel once I have spent a bit more time within its pages.

Finally, after much consideration, Jenette, Courtney and I decided that we would head down to the Pow Wow to see what was going on. The weather today was beautiful, so the Pow Wow was finally outside at the Pow Wow grounds down by the lake. This change in location gave the event an entirely different feel. Suddenly everything started to feel ‘real’ and meaningful. Perhaps people just weren’t able to ‘feel the vibe’ in the arena, because today’s event was definitely full of energy. We remained at the Pow Wow for a little while and then decided to take a little canoe trip out to one of the islands in the lake.

Now, let me tell you, I am not what one would call a ‘practiced’ canoeist so this was a pretty big deal for me. I managed to hold my own in the world of canoes and lakes, but I’m really just not that comfortable yet! We made it out to the island and decided to stay for a while. We actually tested out the water (it was cold) and took a brief swim. I stood out in the water for a while and came up with some lyrics for a song that I want to work on, then came in and read another chapter of my book. Paddling back I was able to relax a bit more than on the way there, and was able to take in the scenery around me. It was nice being out on the water. I’ve mentioned this before, but you really get a sense of just how much wilderness there is in our country when you find yourself in the middle of it.

This evening we haven’t really gotten up to much…We ate dinner, went over to ‘Waboose’ to get some prizes for camp tomorrow and are just getting ready to head down to the closing ceremonies of the Pow Wow.

I should take this opportunity to fill you in on last night’s activities…As I mentioned yesterday, we attended the ‘Clash of the Titans’ at the arena last night. We didn’t know what to expect, as many of the Fort Hope events have been rather casual so far, however, this event was certainly an exception. We arrived at the arena and the doors were locked…A huge crowd of people were waiting outside, clamouring to be first in line. The mere presence of a line was shocking enough, but the excitement in the air was nothing short of inspiring. As the arena doors creaked open and the line crept forward, we could all feel the buzz of happy minds. Tickets were checked thoroughly, people were seated efficiently and everyone was really well behaved and ready for the fights to begin.

There were three fights in total, each one leading up to the main event of Harry Papah vs. Alex Nate. All of the fights were great but the best were the last two. The second to last fight featured a friendly giant, Elmer, who visits the reserve every year from his home in Nevada. Elmer lurched and lunged his huge frame around the ring at a slow, meandering pace that was easily countered by the speedy quickness of his opponent. The organizers had set up a David vs. Goliath fight that kept everyone significantly entertained. In addition to this, the event came complete with a ‘professional ring girl’ who was no less than a cross-dressed male from the community. It was such a hilarious and shocking surprise to see this scantily clad ‘female’ traipsing around the ring! I didn’t see it coming at all and the crowd loved it!

The main event of the evening was commentated on by two extremely funny members of the drum group from the Pow Wow. Harry Papah and Alex Nate delivered the fight, complete with all of the pre-bout antics. It was a great event that had the arena packed with laughing, cheering people!

It is now past 12am, and I really should be sleeping, but we actually just got back from the final night of Pow Wow. It was by far the most comfortable we have felt at a community event since arriving here. The atmosphere of the Pow Wow down at the lake in the setting sun and then darkness was incredible, and people seemed to be having a great time. The kids of course congregated around us, and I even met a few really nice kids my age. I suppose we’re not really kids, but I don’t have a good word to describe my age group, so I’ll just leave it at kids for now. I had the opportunity to participate in a couple of simple dances (really simple, like they were so simple that even I was able to do them!) and was even called upon to draw one of the raffle prizes. All in all it was a great event, and as I look back on the day, I can barely remember the frustration that threatened to overtake me in the early afternoon.

Alright, well I really should be off to bed…I am looking forward to the start of week three, even though I occasionally feel like I’m just about ready for it to be week eight!

–Be kind to each other and don’t fall down…

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