February 4, 2013

a kernel story...

Chief Bemidji

 the wendigo-psychosis mining of each honest Spring

     Frank was an old Ojibwe, used to tell me stories at the convenient store I clerked overnights at when he came in for early morning coffee, he always paid with silver dollar coins that I would replace with non silver dollars in the till, he said living off the land these days is a poison well full of fish that might be good for last meals but that was it, he would sit and laugh at all the bells and whistles of this modern life we in America have grown accustomed to, he also said being a fool was his specialty, so we shouldn’t take anything he said too seriously, one time when the snows of February started, he helped me salt the walk and said Winter used to be a time when we hunkered down with stored fats and seeds, bleeding ourselves with tales of why memory is a fool’s gold and time was working for the spirit realms, we would keep a fire lit the entirety of Winter he said, if only to sit around and look at the shadow theater language of the walls we surrounded ourselves with, sometimes we went out, when the weather broke warm for a spell, sometimes we chanced upon some meat, sometimes we just collected stones and downed wood to warm the floors near the fire pit…

     Frank used to be from Canada, he said he would come across the border to work the farms at harvest in the Dakotas, he never had papers, never needed any back then, and one time when a certain farmer’s daughter was wrangled with some advances by others like him, he lost the work that used to sustain him so he stayed in the US and he wandered, travelled across the states , looking for smiles and a chance to feed himself if only to know that kindness was not a lost art…

…one time, while walking for miles, he waited out a storm beneath an underpass, he helped a family caught in the rain at the side of the road, they were a young couple with small children, there were bolts of lightning and claps of thunder, two small children were crying in the back seat and they had a flat tire with no spare, there’s a service station a few miles down the road he said, and he went off to find them a tire and jack, walking down the road he palmed up at the rain as if he were already fixing what fell inside water…when he returned he changed the tire and told the family they would have to pay for the tire and return the jack to the station, they offered him a ride that he refused and smiled as they drove off, they way Frank saw it, the Sun had already began a return payment by warming up the air and drying his clothes…
     
     Frank had left his name with the service station in order to vouch for the tire and jack, when the family arrived at the station they went in to use the restroom and to grab some gas and a few snacks for the rest of their journey, they were outside of St Louis and were headed to Memphis, when the father went to pay for everything and return the jack, the service attendant took the flat tire and fixed it to be the spare, one can’t be travelling with children without having a spare tire sir, the attendant said, everything has been paid for sir including the gas, snacks and tire jack, Mr. Frank just wanted you to stop back here to fix your spare tire so you could continue your journey with a bit more of a safety net than you had been travelling with…the father just shook his head and began wiping tears from his eyes and smiled…he stood there for a moment, curiously palming up at the sky taking in the Sun as Frank had taken in the rain…

…why do you always pay in silver Frank I asked him…his eyes narrowed as his smile widened…because metal is better than paper he said, its weight in your pocket is the perfect ballast, the more you give away the higher you can fly…I tried telling him his coffee was on the house but he said, I pay for this conversation, I always thought the coffee was free…how old are you Frank, I asked, he again smiled and said he was old enough to know humanity needs a helping hand every once in awhile and a few coins in your pockets along each journey to the other side of every Winter in this land, we now called America, often pays for some of your soul's music...and with that he winked and left me ten silver dollars and said while leaving, spreading salt is wise, a blessing, it helps pay for the rain…and as the light of day lengthens from Winter's womb to the crawl of roots...the mockingbird sings each song we might ever need to hear...you may even begin to understand why certain souls need more bones to get by...

EJR ©

13 comments:

  1. What a lovely story! Thank you for sharing this --

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  2. A wonderful story, filled with humanity and kindness. And it's true what he said, about the mockingbird. Smiles...

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  3. I just love this, especially this line:
    "the more you give away the higher you can fly"

    So much truth there. And the more you empty your hands, the fuller they become...

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  4. There are souls that are just beautiful, imagine how a world would look if it was populated by Frank's.. Great storytelling.

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  5. "he palmed up at the rain as if he were already fixing what fell inside water"

    I won't trivialize what this does to me by putting it into words.

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  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    Replies
    1. I think I accidentally removed said content with a shaky mouse hand, my apologies...you were very kind with the words you shared...eloquent too...much gratitude...Edward

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    2. found it...here's a joyful commentary accidentally removed by me...by
      https://www.blogger.com/profile/12664830773553716989 "Oh....I savored every word. The run on way you've written it just
      fits with this wonderful personna. He is a wise man.......so many
      lines I love here.....so many ideas I love here. "we would keep a
      fire lit the entirety of Winter he said, if only to sit around and
      look at the shadow theater language of the walls we surrounded
      ourselves with" -- this paints such a wonderful image of both
      him, the season, and his way of life. Why he pays in silver.....I
      figured I as payin for the conversation......I really really think
      this is an entirely special story."

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  7. I enjoyed the storytelling here! Such interesting characters and good writing. Awesome!

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  8. Meaning and purpose..
    Indian way of giving
    giving giving..
    sky homes
    fly
    out of caves
    of bright
    colors
    no
    longer home..:)

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