Thursday, December 6, 2012

Rain, Snow, and the Native Americans of Massachusetts

"What are you putting up there?" Marash Girl asked the fellow grasping the 6 foot high wooden poles painted yellow at the top, as he hammered one into the corner of the parking lot at Whole Foods.  "That's not for snow, is it?"   "It is, indeed," the fellow answered.  "Snow poles?  already? No!  I don't want to think about snow!"  The fellow grinned and continued hammering the poles in around the edge of the parking lot.  Marash Girl started wondering if Santa put up snow poles at the northernmost tip of our slightly unrounded world. . . As she walked away, she started laughing,  remembering a joke that Marash Boy had told her years ago: '"It looks like we're going to have lots of snow this winter," intoned a Native American New Englander to a tourist on Cape Cod.  "And how is it that you know that?" asked the tourist, impressed.  "Look around you," said the Native American New Englander, "and you'll see all the snow fences the white man has put up!"'

That memory triggered the memory of a July day in Brimfield, Massachusetts, when Marash Boy and Marash Girl had gone to visit the Brimfield Fair.  Looking to park in a private, non-commercial parking lot (i.e., in somebody's back yard), Marash Boy drove North on one of the side streets, following the arrows on a home-made sign.  He pulled into the arrowed driveway and was motioned to the back yard by the owner of the house; paying the required $5, Marash Boy looked up when he felt a brief but insistent wind.  "It'll be raining in about 10 minutes," he said to the owners.  Surprised, they asked, "Are you Native American?"  "In a way," he answered; "I grew up summering on the top of Wilbraham Mountain; I know what that puff of wind means."  "Oh! We're Native Americans!" replied the Brimfield residents.  "We didn't realize anyone other than we Natives knew about that puff of wind.  You're the first person we've met that does! Do you know about this?"  They picked up a bird feather from the ground.  "Whenever we find a bird's feather on the ground, we bring it into our home, place it in a container, and pray for the health of an ailing member of the family.  It works."  From that day forward, on the green monster (the antique buffet painted green by Kenar and Arax in the 1930's) in the cabin that sat on the top of Wilbraham Mountain, there stood small antique bottles filled with bird feathers representing the good health of all the folks Marash Girl and Marash Boy loved.  

Oh. . . and yes, 10 minutes later, on that day in Brimfield, Massachusetts? It started raining. 


Post a Comment