Thursday, August 9, 2012

Yesterday began with our now typical and flawless motion about the kitchen preparing breakfast. This group, who has barely known each other a week, needs no specific roles. Tasks are consistenly and graciously managed by whoever thinks of it first. Maybe this is how communes started.

Rachel reported and Charlie demonstrated his work horse ethic in our morning meeting, which precipitated a discussion about expectations, intentions, and cultural attitudes that permeated the rest of the day. Are we wanted here? Are we needed here? And if so, whose needs are we serving? What does accomplishment look like? And is that a necessary goal anyway?

In the morning, the girls and I worked at the CDC with Kelly picking up trash and painting graffiti. After lunch, we returned and wrote three stories about savings and loans while we watched children randomly run into the building searching for water and disappear. Here is a story that Tatum worked on for third grade:

Loans (Namu is the Blackfeet word for butterfly and Keyio means bear)

Namu worked the whole summer long,

Keyio laid upon the lawn.

Namu said, “You must get up!”

Collect food while the sun’s still up!

Keyio said, “I do not need.

Summer’s rope still has much lead.”

Namu sighed and flew away,

There was work to do, he could not stay.

Keyio continued wasting his time,

Sleeping all day, taking a climb,

And what do you know? It began to get cold,

And Keyio remembered what he was told.

“Please!” begged Keyio. “Give me some honey!

I should have collected some while it was sunny!”

Namu smiled, and gave him a snack.

“But Keyio,” he said, “You must pay back.”

Keyio laughed, and skipped off joying.

He thought Namu was just toying.

Every day Namu loaned without a care.

But very soon, he had none to spare.

He ran to Keyio and said, “Please pay me back!

Now I have no honey, and I need a snack!”

Keyio gasped. “I thought you were kidding

I ate your honey without even sitting!”

Then Namu flew to the NBA

To hear what Awagassi had to say.

“Namu,” he said. “You shouldn’t have loaned.”

“But what should I do?” Namu moaned.

Namu and Keyio survived the winter through,

But next summer both knew what to do.

The highlight was helping a girl de-flea her puppy. Children are children and the interaction amongst the girls and the dog was comfortable. We wished we had been able to have more interactions like this.

Finally, our whole group convened at 4:00 for another adventure, but not before viewing the fabulously finished shed – thank to the hard work of many men. Michele was right. Chuck’s ranch is tucked away. I think I can indeed say that we were collectively blown away by the vast scenery, Chuck’s gentle prowess and expert guidance with the horses, and Cary’s incredible cooking and hosting. The riding grabbed the beauty of the landscape in a way I’ve rarely experienced and will not forget. After a full dinner, no gathering is complete without a charade of talents from the ever burgeoning Munroe family – Colin’s poi, Paul’s kindo, and Rachel’s splits kept us in hysterics around the fire.

In closing, we want to reflect on the paradoxical takeaways from this trip. We came for the matched service, but instead are leaving with an early understanding of Blackfeet heritage, with an appreciation for this piece of gorgeous Montana, a slew of new friends, and the knowledge that success and meaning ultimately are “flexible.”

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