mountain 2

It is gracious of the mountain to show herself the day after my son and daughter-in-law’s wedding. I stay in a rental house with two aunts and an uncle (all in their 80s), my daughter, and two old friends and their son. The age range is 13 to 86. When the fog and clouds fall away from the mountain we all rush for our cameras.

For the Ragtag Daily Prompt: gracious.

L is for landscape

I am blogging A to Z about artists, particularly women artists and mostly about my mother, Helen Burling Ottaway.

L for Landscape. This watercolor is of Coolfont, West Virginia, a view from the deck of my grandmother’s house.

My grandparents lived in Trumensburg, New York. My grandfather, F. Temple Burling, died when I was 13. He was 79. My grandmother lived in the enormous house for a while, but eventually sold it. She moved to West Virgina, a couple of hours from my parents. Later she bought a second house two doors down. Her sister and sister’s husband, Estie and Russ Parr, moved in and they all lived on the same block as my parents until their deaths.

I love this landscape, both because it is so gorgeous and because of the memories of all of the family.

ATOZBLOGGINGCHALLENGE2022 #art #Women artists #Helen Burling Ottaway #ATOZCHALLENGE #APRILATOZ

For more information about the #AtoZChallenge, check out this link.

Maybe

Maybe
You could be a cat
Independent
A bit snotty
Refusing to share your thoughts
Keeping your secrets
Enjoying refusing to answer questions
Macavity the mystery cat
when something happens
He’s never there

You could be an elk
Guarding the herd
While the elder ladies
Lead it through the woods
At certain times of year
You bugle
And want them
And they/we/I mew
And you find me
And we both enjoy it
Very much

I am a cat too
independent
I will travel alone
If you won’t travel with me
I will find other music
If you won’t play with me
I enjoy it when you come round
Very much
I keep my claws sharp
Just in case I need them
If I long for cuddles and purring
That is my problem

I am a lady elk
Confident in the woods
I let you do the guarding and bugling
While I lead the herd
Up and over the ridges
The spine of the mountain
The spines of the dragons
Elwha and Sol Duc
I know them well
I hear you bugle
And think about whether this time
I will mew
Or not
I have found new forage
And the loggers are changing the forest
You bugle anyhow
Even if I am distracted
I like to work
But I like to mew too

Maybe we will come together
Now and then
Cats
or elks
or humans
Maybe.

___________________________________________________________________

My father read me T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats when I was little. He loved Macavity the mystery cat, called the Hidden Paw. And my goodness, the cat outfits in this show are quite something!

freezing level

Yesterday a trip to Forks is in order. There is snow around Lake Crescent and you can see the freezing level part way up the mountain. It is beautiful as we rise into the pass between the Elwha Valley and the Sol Duc Valley. In the Sol Duc Valley there is less snow at road level, but it’s still in the mountains. A gorgeous day.

In the Sol Duc Valley.

Bears all his sons away

Disclaimer: I am not Native American. I am not male. I did not live here when the ships arrived. I wrote this thinking about a dream a friend told me, about a bear. So it’s the fault of a dream bear, this story.

One
I am wailing. I am crying. The Bear came today, our bear, the tribe’s bear, our Spirit.

But he didn’t just walk through camp and take fish and his tribute.

He took my son.

He walked right up to where my wife stood still, as we must when he comes, and he lifted the boy in his paws. The boy was quiet and still, he did well, he was brave, but when the bear turned to leave, he called once.

Then our bear dropped to three legs, my son in the fourth, and turned and left.

My son, my son, my heart, my joy. Spirit Bear, return him to me!

Two

We fought, argued, for a very short time. The Shaman said that if Spirit Bear wants my son, he shall have him.

He does have him, I said, but I want him back. The Shaman knew that was true. Some shook their heads and say that my son is already dead, but most agreed with me. We were on the trail nearly immediately. The bear should not be able to move as quickly as usual when he is carrying my son. I dread evidence of my son’s loss, that he will be eaten. But that has never happened, in the history, in the songs. The Shaman said as much. But neither has a bear taken a chief’s son.

Three
Spirit Bear is moving amazingly fast on three legs. He is headed for the mountains. Not a surprise. My son may get cold. But bears are warm. My son has not been eaten.

Four

We have to make camp. I am so angry that we have not caught Spirit Bear. Out of our home camp he is fair game.

We do the Bear Dance, four times. We did not bring the masks and the young men dance the women’s part and one sings the woman’s part. We made quick rough masks and costumes. The Spirits will forgive us. This is past all understanding.

What does a Spirit Bear want with my son? Four years. No one knows.

Five
Day again. I am up before dawn praying for light, for my son, to find the Spirit Bear.

Six

We are hot on the trail. We find that Spirit Bear did sleep and rest. My son is dropping beads. Smart boy. Each bead means that he is still alive and relatively unhurt.

Seven

We have spotted them. Spirit Bear stood and looked down at us, my son tucked against his side. My son very slowly raised his arm, so he knows.

Eight

We are approaching the peak. Everyone is tired from the climb and hungry and thirsty. Yet we keep going. No one complains.

Nine

We reach the peak and Spirit Bear and my son. We arm our spears and arrows, but my son shouts “No! Look!” We turn. We see the water. There is something in the water. It has tannish wings that are filled with wind. It is huge compared with our boats.

We turn to my son. He stands and Spirit Bear leaves, ambling down the mountain, quickly, gone. I hurry to my son, sweep him up. He starts shaking and then cries, leaning his head into me.

We turn and watch the tan winged thing, which is coming against the wind. It comes at an angle and then turns, to the opposite angle, yet still it comes. We know this is new and that there can be terror or joy, we do not know which. There will be learning, we know that.

My son falls asleep. We carry him down to water and camp. We are all singing quietly, the song of new things, fear and joy. The Shaman will welcome us when we are home, and we will prepare for the winged thing. We do not know what it will bring.

We thank the Spirit Bear for warning us, for telling us to prepare.