Friday, April 21, 2006

Longhouse Dreams

Today we managed to find our way to a Native American educational camp staffed with reenactors and props out in the forest. The drive was rather pleasant and green, and the girls ooohed and aaahed over the purple-flowered trees and frolicking baby cows on the way. It didn't matter that I got lost, twice, and that we missed several presentations. We had a great historical time.

The girls found plenty of things to hold their interest --things I wouldn't have normally expected them to be interested in. Like tool-making, for instance. They watched with rapt attention as one man scraped at some rocks and talked a good deal about arrowheads and the like.

They weren't interested in clay-pot making in the slightest. We explored the longhouse and imagined living in it, but what they really wanted to see were the buckskin hides pulled taut and slathered in some sort of juice that sprayed around every time someone scraped at them with some primitive hair-removal tool. One little friend of ours got splattered in the eye and was taken aback at this, "Ew, Gross!" My sentiments exactly. My girls were curious about all this skin stuff, but not enough to jump up and try it out with the rest of the kids. Instead, they laid in with their questions.

Moonshine (my 4-year-old) found it all very confusing. "Excuse me, why would anyone want to kill a deer?" The answer she got from the reenactor was something helpful like, "Deers were their cows." She looked up at him with these confounded big eyes, Huh? "They didn't have any cows, pigs, or sheep," he told her. Huh? "What about bears? Bears are angry creatures." "Well, sometimes they killed bears, too, but deer was their meat." Aha. "But excuse me," she asked with complete sincerity, "why would anyone want to eat meat?" Then it was his turn to be confounded. From the mouths of babes...

Both Sunburst and Moonshine jumped at the chance to participate in some Native American dancing, and they each had more than enough questions for the reenactor stationed at the weaponry and compass tent. Moonshine took one look at the loot spread out and decided that the "little gun" was just her size, and got into a very lengthy discussion with the interpreter. Meanwhile, Sunburst spent a long time examining everything closely and spent an extra bit of time maneuvering with the compass.

It's a good thing, too. I took a wrong turn on the way home (I have a particular talent for wrong turns,) and after a few minutes I asked the girls if they recognized anything familiar out the windows. Neither one did, and after a minute Sunburst said, "Are we supposed to be going West?" "What?" "We're headed West, Mom. I remember that way is North, so this has to be West." "Oh," I said, and pulled off and turned around. "Now we're going East," she said and caught the look I gave her through the rearview mirror.

She was quiet for a few minutes before she replied, "It's okay Mom, I'll be your compass."


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