Saturday, February 26, 2011

Moving Shadows

Shadow Shot Sunday
February 27, 2011

I finally tried something I have been thinking of doing for a long time. I saw some long cast shadows while driving on the highway the other morning and used the motion picture function on my camera to make a YouTube video.

This is my Shadow Shot Sunday submission this week. The video was taken while driving West on Interstate Highway 10 between Benson and Tucson Arizona, USA. It was early in the morning, but not crack of dawn. Still, the shadows were long, and I love the way they seem to dance across the road while rounding a gradual left hand curve.

I'm not sure how this view of the highway might seem to those blog readers and followers that hail from places that drive on the left side of the road. But this is how we do it here in the States. It's short, only 53 seconds, so download shouldn't take forever. Hope you like it.

For more Shadow Shots and to find out the guidelines to participate, please see Tracy's Hey Harriet blog.

I also might mention that my post previous to this one, for another Meme entitled Haiku My Heart Friday on Rebecca's recuerda mi corazon blog,  is also a Shadow Shot, and includes people who also participate regularly on Shadow Shot Sunday. Have a look and see if you can guess who they might be. My hint will be that I am one of them and we met for the first time in Arizona. You can see that Haiku post HERE.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Kind Friendly Spirits in the Sunshine

Haiku My Heart Friday
February 25, 2011

Haiku My Heart Friday is the creation of my Rebecca who pens the recuerda mi corazon blog. Check it out for more Haiku and photos. You can also get guidelines if you'd like to participate yourself.

This has been a fabulous week. I've been on the road in the American Southwest. Fantastic scenery everywhere. Mountain vistas, desert landscpes, old mining towns, modern trendy tourist haunts along with yard sales and flea markets galore.

But the best fun we've had was spending the afternoon with friends we have never met until this trip. Tuesday, while spending some time in Prescott, Arizona, my spousal unit Barb and I had a rendezvous with two wonderful artists and bloggers. One of them, besides me, brought their spousal unit, so there were five of us.

It was great fun and a fantastic wonderful honor to meet these people in person. We talked and laughed together like old friends, making the encounter a comfortable experience, all vowing that we would do this again at some point. It will be hard to describe this time spent with old/new friends, but I'll try my hand with this haiku.

This is a  photo of our silouettes in the afternoon sunshine

Old souls we just met

 Hugs, laughter, friendship and peace

Best friends forever

Can you guess who we are and in which order we are in the shadowy photo? I'm thinking it might be fun to have you guess, so I won't divulge the answer until next week. I will give you one hint and tell you we all join the fun on Friday with Haiku. By the way, contrary to public opinion, we are NOT Curly, Moe and Larry.

It really was a marvelous time spent meeting new friends and wonderful people. I've had this experience twice before while on this trip with two other bloggers as well. One in Rio Rancho, New Mexico near Albuquerque and another in El Paso, Texas. If you've never met the people you write to, tell your stories to, offer solace to and pray for, do it. It is totally worth the effort.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Mystery Tour February 21, 2011

I usually write about a trip I've taken in the past or some place I've been and had some kind of wild adventure or happening occur. Today's post is just about the idea that I'll be getting back on the road for a spell. I hate to leave here though. This mornings sunrise is beautiful and has placed me right between Grandmother Moon, going down in the West, and Grandfather Sun coming up over Turtleback Mountain.

We’ll get on the road today. That’s always cool, to take a road trip. This will sort of be taking a road trip while we’re on a road trip. Does that make any sense? It does to me. Anytime there is a reason for a road trip makes sense, and we’re going to visit many friends, so it is a worthy cause.
As you know I brought an RV down here to New Mexico from the Northern reaches of Wisconsin. Yesterday, Wisconsin just got hammered with a foot of new snow after a mid February warm spell that melted most of what we already had on the ground. That made for some interesting weather to say the least.
Today, we’re headed West from T or C. We’ll visit Silver City, a place we like very much, and have some lunch, look around the galleries and sit in the sun and drink coffee. (and tea).
The old A.I.R., (Artist In Residence), Coffee Shop in Silver City, NM
I've spend many a morning basking in the Winter sunshine here over the past 20 years.
It's called something else now, Yankie Street Coffee I believe.

We’ll travel to Prescott, Arizona and meet a couple of blogger friends on Tuesday, and Wednesday brings us to Sedona to visit my brother and his wife. Thursday it’s another visit with someone I worked with way back in 1981.
Los Angeles awaits for a Friday arrival where we’ll spend the weekend with one of Mrs. Spadoman’s closest friends. A girl she has known since childhood. I think they met when she was 7 years old. I will have to listen to every Beatles song being sung off key and re live the stories about the boys that they might have dated had they not found Mr. Right, (That’d be me), and gotten married.
Of course there will be much talk about Grandchildren, children, husbands and life in general. We’ll get back on the road and head for our RV home in T or C on Monday morning and spend a few more days relaxing in the hot mineral springs.
The weather forecast says this is what we'll be looking at in the sky for the next while in the Southwestern USA

Our plan is to pack up and head for our real home in Wisconsin and return to normal living, whatever that is, in March. The RV stays in T or C at the Artesian Bath House and Trailer Court and be ready for the next visit down South, which could happen as early as May, and might be a motorcycle run. 
So, that’s what’s on my agenda. Not sure if I’ll have much time to write and post until I return to Wisconsin. I’ll certainly try to get around and see the blogs of my friends though and post a few Shadow Shots over the weekend, or maybe a Haiku on Friday.
I hope all of you have Peace in your lives.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Today Is the Day

Shadow Shot Sunday
February 20. 2011

Shadow Shot Sunday was created by Tracy who pens the Hey Harriet blog. Go take a look at other Shadow Shots and to find out the guidelines for participation.
Today is an important day In my life for a couple of reasons, neither of them are related. What I am related to is the fact that today is the Birthday of my middle daughter. I sure hope she has a great day today and everyday. I’m pretty sure she’s 35 today. I’ll call her when the day is further along to tell her so. 
Often times, she gets cheated out of a celebration, or at least a celebration I attend. Today is also one of those dreaded anniversary dates. It was 42 years ago today that I got home from the American war in Vietnam. I was 20 years old and released from active military service. I couldn’t drink in a bar, I couldn’t vote legally in my home state of Illinois and my mother had to go with me to the Department of Motor Vehicles to sign for me to get a drivers license. All this, and I was a seasoned combat Veteran.
Yours truly, Republic of Vietnam, 1969

Today’s Shadow Shot was taken in 1969 in what was then called The Republic of Vietnam. I served in the 25th Infantry Division. That Division is called Tropic Lightning as they were dispatched into the tropical islands across Asia during World War II. The unit I actually served with is the Triple Deuce. The 2nd Battalion, of the 22nd Infantry Regiment. 
25th Division Tropic Lighning patch

Crest of the 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment
The Triple Deuce

I like the photo of me as a young man. For one, I was smiling. It’s good to look back and see yourself smiling. It must have been a good day that day. If memory serves me, there were not too many ‘Good” days in my life in 1969 for obvious reasons. 
When I look at it today, I see that the shadows are draped across my portrait. Seems camera angle and lighting weren’t of any concern. Snap the picture with the old Kodak Brownie. I’m fortunate to have saved a few relics of the past from Vietnam service days. This one had shadows. I know I never would have thought I’d be using this photo to display an artistic photo technique.
I can go into so much nostalgia and explanation of war and political hacking here, but suffice it to say today is the day. Over the years I have dealt with this day in many ways. Mostly, I was away from home and family because I didn’t want to live it with anyone but my memories. 

I am blessed that The Creator has granted me some peace from it all and that I understand better why it all happened and why I survived and others weren't so fortunate.
This year, I am away because it’s a long cold Winter in the Northland and I needed to get down to a place where I can warm up a bit while the season rages on. I guess no matter what the reason, my daughter gets ripped off from having a birthday party with me in attendance one more time. I hope she forgives me and knows how much I love her.

Still alive and kickin',

Happy Birthday Alyssa. I love you very much and no matter where I am, I will always love you.

For now, and I know a little about which I speak, I’ll take Peace

Friday, February 18, 2011

Disguised Altar

Haiku My Heart
February 18, 2011

Haiku My Heart Friday is a meme started by me friend Rebecca at recuerdo mi corazon. Stop by and have a look to see other haiku and find out how to participate.
A heart breaks each time
Shrine to ever lasting life
People don’t notice
This shrine in the town of Truth or Consequences sits high on a telephone pole. It has special meaning for those that know what happened on this corner. For others, it is hardly noticed. In fact, I drove by this corner every day for a month before seeing it.
Along the highway, seeing a cross and a shrine adorned with colorful flowers to mark the place where a loved one died is commonplace, but you don’t often see this sort of thing in town, any town.
I stopped to take a look. So many thoughts went through my head, as I have known the pain of losing a family member in an automobile accident. I wonder what the people who lost someone at this spot feel when they have to drive by. I wonder how many people see it and might wonder about the unusual placement.
I wonder if the ones that put it there seek out this place and drive by going out of their way. I wonder if they keep it up and freshen the plastic flowered wreath every so often. They’d have to bring a ladder as this display is high up on the pole.

No matter what, may the loved one that was lost here Rest In Peace.

Peace, what a concept

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Trailblazer Award

What is the Trailblazer Award? Well, I’d never heard of it until a recent visit to my friend’s blog, Phantsy That. The writer’s name is susan and we have been visiting each other’s blogs, as well as the occasional e-mail, for quite some time.
susan received the award from one of her blog friends, someone who is called Liberality. Liberality nomonated susan. I have seen the Liberality name on many comments at susan's. It seems susan nominated me to receive the award. That’s how it works. It comes with a stipulation. When you receive it, you are suppose to send it on to someone else.
This is the first and only blog award I have ever received and feel so honored, especially knowing the person who nominated me for it. I thank susan so very much.
I also think very highly of susan’s Phantsy That, as well as her other blog, Adventures, Ink. There, she writes stories and uses her own fantastic pen and ink drawings to illustrate. Her sketches, paintings and overall artwork is always beautifully designed, be it a scarf, a bag or a water color painting. susan's commentaries and posted articles on the environment and cutting edge technologies of the future come from a desire to make our world a better one.
Since susan gave me the award, I can’t pick her to receive it, otherwise I would. By the way, I didn’t capitalize ‘susan’ because she doesn’t. I don’t know why she doesn’t, but I honor it, for it might have some meaning I don’t know about. If it is for humility, I know about that. susan is the epitome of humble.
There are others that are equally deserving and making a choice is hard work for me. But I have chosen someone to give it to.
I want to send this Trailblazer award to Rebecca who posts the recuerdo mi corazon blog. Rebecca is unselfish in her words on her blog as well as what she writes in every comment she makes to others. 
She helps raise money for those in need by holding unique fund raisers.They should be called “Fun” raisers as most are auctions of donated art work by her fabulous artistic and creative friends.
The words and thoughts she conveys are poetry of the utmost calm and soothing. Her art, much of which honors the Mexican Folk Art style, is as good as it gets. She ‘sees’ in words that others may write and is compassionate beyond compare. I know there isn’t one that knows her that will read this and disagree. She is a Trailblazer.

This is the Trailblazer Award that I pass on to Rebecca

So you have been chosen Rebecca. You now know the rules, pass it on when you take it from me. I felt so honored to be thought of in such high regard by my peer. I hope you feel the same way as I really feel you are one special blogger and human being, with amazing talent in artistry, the written word and pulling people together for the greater good of all.
Peace to All

Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday Mystery Tour February 14, 2011

Looking over Bearskin Lake from Caribou Rock

This will be the last of the wilderness guide stories, I promise. But these last two must be told to round out the previous posts.
The False Bay Fiasco, as the event was dubbed, was simply a long hard paddle across Cache Bay on Lake Saganaga, only to be aiming for the opening to the Silver Falls Portage, but reaching instead, a dead end deep wide wind blown bay.
That Quetico Ranger Station is on the South side of Cache Bay, Lake Saganaga, Canada

I was paddling with my friend Mark and he had his faithful Golden Labrador Retriever with him. Mark insisted on fishing while we paddled. That should be while I paddled as he didn’t do much in the way of work. Hard to paddle and steer while fishing.
We were deep into the false bay when we knew we had to turn around and get out of there so we could proceed to the real bay which was about a quarter mile to the West. Mark got a strike. He was excited and started to tend to his rod and reel in anticipation of catching a fish, and hoping it would be big enough for all of us on the trip to have dinner.
He waited and tended his line. All the while, the dog was on alert as he sensed something was happening, after all, his Master was intense.
All of a sudden, Mark is ready to set the hook as the line had been running out of the reel. Mark knew the fish was on. He shouts, “Hook’em Dano!”, as he yanks hard and fast on the rod and reel to set the hook. This is a famous line said weekly on the TV show Hawaii Five Oh, the old version, from the 1970’s. When the star has his sergeant make the arrest of the bad guy. Of course in the TV show, it’s “Book ‘em, Dano.”

Note: The last link contains a 40 second video of scenes from the 1970's TV show Hawaii Five-O featuring the star of the show, Jack Lord, saying the immortal words.
The dog leaps into the water, after all, he is a retriever, and gets his rear paw stuck on the thwart of the canoe and starts howling, crying out and thrashing around with his front paws in the water, splashing and trying his hardest to keep his head afloat. The canoe was unstable as it was in the wind and Mark, not wanting to lose the fish, holds the rod and reel steady and looks at me. I’m paddling the canoe as the wind is pushing us ever closer to shore and the rocks.
To be honest, no one was hurt, not even the dog, and we all made it out alive without mishap, even the fish, as Mark never did land it. But to this day, when I talk to or visit one of my old friends from that trip, we say to each other, “Hook ‘em, Dano!”
North American Moose, stock photo

The wind can be treacherous on the large fresh water lakes of the North Country. In 1987, a friend of mine told me he was going on a moose hunt in the BWCA. I know there are special rules for use of the BWCA and I wondered about opening the area for hunting. But it was true. My friend Howie signed up with three other guys. The foursome were picked in a random drawing. Only so many moose hunting permits were given out and Howie and his group got one.
We had the idea of me going up with them as a guide. I would end up being more like a camp attendant. Howie called the DNR and asked them about having a guide. He was told that as long as I didn’t have a hunting rifle and didn’t participate in the moose hunt, it was okay to be there with this group as a guide.
I helped these guys get their gear into a place where I knew there to be moose. I had been there often and seen the trails. We loaded the aluminum canoes and set out across Poplar Lake.

A loaded canoe sits on shore, stock photo

The wind was fresh and out of the Northwest. We had to cross the lake across the wind. The canoes had quite a lot of stuff in them as travel in October, with night time temperatures getting down into the teens, had all of us with extra gear. Add to this the hunting rifles, ammunition and all the tools, packs and equipment to cut up, wrap and carry out a moose carcass in five parts, well, we had an extra heavy load on each of the three canoes.
There were two good sized islands in the middle of the lake. I knew it would be a good idea to head for a spot between the islands to get out of the wind and regroup, then finish the paddle across the rest of the lake. I instructed the guys in canoe number three to do this. I was in canoe number one and the guy alone in number two, who had most of the extra weight, paddled alone. I knew number two and we had a lot of paddling experience and savvy. The guys in three, not so much.
I waited between the islands, in the calm, out of the wind, in hopes of seeing that they made safe passage. But the longer I waited, I pretty much knew the worst had happened. 

The wind had grabbed their canoe and beat them up against the shore. They were able to stand up in the shallow water, but every piece of gear and every bit of them were absolutely soaked.
We beached the canoes on the island and immediately started a fire. Ever try drying a winter Gore Tex coat? The nature of the space age material is to allow moisture, like perspiration, to pass through in one direction, but to keep moisture, like precipitation, out. It took forever to dry that coat and most of the other gear.
The rifles were in cases, but not waterproof cases. These had simple latches on them like a suitcase would. The inside was lined with a foam pad. These pads were so water logged from the dip in the lake that they sank to the bottom. They got retrieved, and the foam padding dried out, but the guns themselves needed to be torn down, dried and oiled. The other canoes had ammunition. Their ammunition was ruined from the dunking.
I can go on and on about what happened over the next few days. There was one mishap after the other with these two “hunters”. Suffice it to say, they were drummed out of camp after two days and the group never shot a moose, although they did see one, the first night out. A large bull walked within 60 paces of the campfire down towards the water, right where I said there was a well worn trail. 
It was dusk when I spotted it. One of the over zealous greenhorns grabbed his loaded rifle and shot three times and scared the thing off into the woods, never to be seen again. Had he waited, the group could have had a trophy bull moose head to mount and the field stripping would have taken place at water’s edge and not deep in the woods. 

In Minnesota at that time, if you got picked to be on a moose hunt, you had one chance in your lifetime. You were not eligible to ever get picked again. So, when the hunt ended early for these two, it was over forever. Their one and only chance to hunt in Minnesota was gone. They had seen a moose, but came up empty.
A few months later, we gathered to recap the hunt and see how everyone was doing. I was there as I was on the trip. I did work my butt off cooking, gathering firewood and doing campsite chores.
I had brought with me a shotgun, fishing gear, binoculars and a camera. I shot grouse and ducks to eat, I fished for pike, I spotted game with the binoculars and photographed nature with my camera. During the day while the hunters were beating the bush, I relaxed at water’s edge and enjoyed bright Autumn sunshine while cast iron kettles of soup and stew simmered on the campfire and bannock baked away in the Dutch oven.
Our meeting was held up North. I lived up on the Gunflint Trail, everyone else had about 300 miles to travel. We met at Vince’s Windigo Lodge, the second one. The first had burned down. 
When the guys got there, I had put together a small gift for each one of them. My friend Howie knew what was up, but the others didn’t. They took their gifts home. I will tell you that the small flat box looked like a box of chocolates, and were even labeled as such. Well, they were chocolates, originally. 

Moose dung as commonly seen on the forest floor

Moose droppings, or moose dung, is shaped like a football and are about one and one half inches long and might be three quarters of an inch wide at the center. These chocolates were shaped like this and were sold as novelties at the souvenir stores and gifts shops throughout the North Country. 

Souvenir candy that (sort of) resembles moose dung
A Minnesota original

I took the chocolates out and replaced the ‘candy’ with actual dried up moose crap. I got them damp and rolled them in coconut flakes. They looked great. There was no odor as these droppings had been sitting on the forest floor for a while and were well dried out.
Aside from my friend Howie, the other guys took the gifts home. Now, I heard stories throughout the next few months that they were going to get even, someday, somehow. All of them said they knew right away they weren’t real candy. But I never believed it. I knew that at least one of those guys bit hard into a piece of moose dung chocolate and got a nose and mouthful.
This happened, as I said, in 1987. That’s 24 years folks. I haven’t talked with Howie since 1991. The other guys never did get even. I still look closely at everything I eat. You never know how long revenge will take.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Shadow Shot Sunday February 13, 2011

Shadow Shot Sunday is a feature brought to you by Tracy who started this Meme. Her blog is out of Australia, so many Shadow Shot Sunday submissions are posted on Saturdays here in the USA, like this one today. Have a visit to Hey Harriet to see many more fascinating photos and see if you’d like to participate, as all the guidelines are there as well.
Okay, so I have the fever. The Shadow Shot Fever. I’m out driving around or even going someplace in particular, and I take my camera. A blogger friend and regular SSS contributor, Molokai Girl,  gave me some tips about how to use the style of camera I have. I believe she has one similar. In heeding her advice, I am more than satisfied with the results and enjoy using the camera and seeing the improvement overall.

So now, I’m not only looking for Shadow Shots, but I’m thinking about looking for Shadow Shots before I leave the house as I check out the position of the sun and which direction I might be heading. I may even plan a trip at a certain time to attempt to arrange the shadows I might see.

It’s a fever all right. Something I never would do while traveling, that is, turn around, is an everyday occurrence these days. That’s exactly what I did to capture these strong lined shadows on this dilapidated old structure along New Mexico State Highway 1, which runs North and South in the center of the state near to Interstate Highway 25. This was just South of Socorro. It was morning and I was headed back to Truth Or Consequences from Albuquerque.

I love the second photo, the one of the inside of the ceiling.  I wasn’t sure what was the wooden timbers and what were shadows. If your computer has the capacity to do so, click on the photo a couple of times to bring the image close up and personal and have a look at the intricate cross section of wooden sticks used in this old stone and mud building.
Have a great day and happy shadow hunting.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Soil As Paint

Haiku My Heart Friday
February 11, 2011

Haiku My Heart Friday was created by my friend Rebecca. You can see more Haiku and find out how to participate by going to her blog, recuerda mi corazon

From the dirt comes peace
Cleansing sage, Mother’s life blood
A human soul lives
Life in Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico is slower moving than it is in River Falls, Wisconsin, even in the middle of Winter. I love being here though. Just yesterday, I negotiated a deal with the owner of the Artesian Bath House and Trailer Court. I now have an RV residence here to use as I want, when I want, the year ‘round.

One of the things I like about this area is the many places I can travel to. Familiar places. Over the years, I have scouted around and have many small towns or natural features I like to visit. One of these places is Silver City, New Mexico.

I was in Silver City last Saturday and wandered around some of the galleries. One of the places I went into was Wild West Weavers. The proprietor there weaves rugs and mats. She is very talented and had some beautiful rugs for sale hanging on the walls of her shop.
The Front Door at Wild West Weavers, Silver City, NM

What impressed me most in the first place was her colorful front door. I went in to ask if she minded that I took a photo. She said, “No problem”, and I did. Nice, isn’t it? But the colors of the woven rugs were astonishing, and I find out through casual conversation, that she makes all her own dyes from plant matter and soil.

She runs classes from time to time and I put my name on the e-mail list to be notified as I am very interested in making colorful paints from natural materials. My last call to her went unanswered, but I am optimistic that I’ll hear from her soon.
Coincidently, another blogger and friend, Paula, at Molokai Girl and Molokai Girl Studio, wrote about soil, or as she referenced it, dirt. She was posting on Alphabet Wednesday and the letter was “D”. Scroll around her sites, she posts and creates some beautiful artwork.
I have tried my hand at making paint from soil. I’m sure many of you have seen soil of different colors. I was taken to a place years ago while on The Longest Walk II. A Native man from the Grand Canyon area of Arizona, a Hualapai Tribal member, drove me down a dusty gravel road towards the Colorado River. We stopped numerous places and he showed me petroglyphs and other natural features.

We took a short walk up to the side of a small hill and there was a hole in the hillside about two feet around. Inside was the reddest dirt I have ever seen. I had carried plastic bags with me and Tobacco. I honored the Sacred Earth Mother for giving me this gift of red soil and scattered the Tobacco to the four directions.

Stock photo, Grand Canyon

I carried the soil with me for months until I returned home. I gave most of it to a Spiritual Elder that runs a Sundance ceremony for the people. It is used in this ceremony as red paint and swabbed onto the West side of the tree that is put in the center of the Sundance arbor. This paint is called Wasse, (Wah-Say’), in Dakota language. It is mixed with bear grease and water. A woman is chosen to apply the Wasse to the trunk of the chosen tree.
When I gave the soil to the Elder, I told him where it came from and how I gave tobacco for it. He was pleased and he used this sacred ingredient in the ceremony on the tree.
Sometimes I use some of this soil to make my own paint to put some color or artwork onto a drum head or a gourd rattle. It is pulverized with a mortar and pestle and turned into the consistency of powder. I use bear grease and mix it up so it is usable as paint.

The Red Soil paint dotted on, then swirled with my fingertips for this drum I made some time ago.

I don’t have much of this soil left. I’ve used just about all of it. One day last Fall, a Spiritual Elder from Pine Ridge came to the area where I live. He had been asked to do a healing ceremony for Veterans. I heard about this ceremony and asked for information. I was invited to attend and participate.
The last bit of the Sacred Red Soil in my possession

The ceremony was simple. The Elder said that the Veteran Warrior has lost something of him or herself because of being made to kill in battle. The lost part of that person’s Spirit must be returned so they can move on with life and become a Spiritual Warrior in their own community.
The Spiritual Warrior doesn’t have to kill any longer. He takes care of the old ones and the children. He stays sober and doesn’t beat his wife or children. He serves the community now, after his Spirit has been renewed.
I wanted to bring this man a gift, to thank him for doing this ceremony, which is the custom. I had heard about this type of ceremony and been waiting for a chance to attend one for a long time, for years. A usual traditional gift is Tobacco, Sweetgrass, Sage or Cedar. Food may be given, a roast or something of substance.
I chose to give him the red soil that I had. I knew what he would do with it. When I met him, I shook his hand. Then, I gave him the small bag of soil and told him where it came from and how it was given to me by Mother Earth in a good way, with Tobacco.
He listened to me, then held up the bag and said, “Hoka, this is just what I needed.”
The red earth was used many times as paint for the faces of Warriors. War paint. The leader would use his thumb and put it into the soil and with his fingers stretched wide over the forehead of a Warrior, he would wipe his thumb under the eyes.
Basil Braveheart, the spiritual Elder from Pine Ridge, South Dakota who ran this ceremony, did exactly that.

Sage bundles

We stood in a circle. An attendant carried an abalone shell, filled with smoking smoldering Sage, and the Spiritual Leader waved the smoke over our bodies, front and rear, with a large wing of an Eagle.  He patted us down from our heads, over our shoulders and down along our bodies. Wiping away impurity. Wiping away pain and suffering. Wiping us clean of the trauma and haunting dreams of the past.

Then he took a bundle of Sage that had been wrapped with red yarn and dipped the Sage in water. Water, the life blood of Mother Earth. This water was blessed and a song offered by the women, keepers and caretakers of the water in Ojibwe culture. He symbolically wiped the war paint from our faces with that damp Sage, thus taking the combat Warrior part of us away and giving us back our Spirits.

My heart swelled. I cried. We all did. I didn’t wash my face as I felt honor return to my soul. The residue of the war paint and the dripping Sage scented water down my cheeks told me I can be proud again. No more shame.

This memory about the red soil came to me when I saw an artist using soil and plants as coloring for her works, and a blogger friend asked me about the red soil when I mentioned it. I am proud to share this story with you.