I am the sound of the sound and the sound of the name…and they will find me there, and they will live, and they will not die again. —The Thunder, Perfect Mind, A Gnositc Text
It’s been nine hundred and seventy four days since Roger died and I am marking this evening with my usual walk through the cross country course. As I pass the familiar bladdernut trees with their delicate, japanese-lantern shaped seed pods, they rattle amicably in response, all new and awed by the busy natural setting in which they find themselves These days the papery pods are sheathed in fragile celery green but as the summer wears on they will turn delicious shades of pink and rose as they make their way to their eventual brittle, dried blood and burnt brown color of late fall and winter.
Before I came to these dense shrubs lined up along the creek bed, I passed through an open field of clover and startled a couple of big, black, red-headed vultures; their red heads tell me they are mature adults and know exactly what they are up to. Evidently I have stumbled onto what appears to be a bloody feast right there in the young summer grass. They flap noisliy away as I approach what at first I believe to be a large dead hare; all that is left is a bloody ribcage and two baby-soft furry ears. They are big ears. They are big ears for such a small body. That is why I think it is a hare. But wait! Now I see hooves—tiny, tiny hooves—and just as my lips vibrate with Lordy!, Lordy!, my heart and mind recognize in sync that this dead carcass is a new born fawn. A shadow appears in my peripheral vision and I look up to see a worried doe, pacing out in the open field, exposing herself, making herself vulnerable, back and forth, back and forth…Oh my, what do I do? Oh my, what do I do? I tighten my throat against the grief trying to hurl itself out of my body. Back and forth, back and forth, What do I do?
I begin to sing. Just a little something from Westside Story that I have been trying out lately on the neighborhood deer herd; she should recognize it if she is a local. The doe stops in her tracks and stares through me, almost as if she thinks I may be her child’s murderer. I keep on singing. A few minutes pass and she relaxes enough to lower her head into the clover and breathe; she pulls gently at the grass and begins to chew. I know from being around horses that grazing is a sign of tension release; maybe the spell is broken. The next minute she daintily leaps across the field into the woods.
The Native Americans used the three little seeds in each Bladdernut seed pod to make rattles which they used in healing rituals and dances by the Meskwaki Indians; some tribes used them to make a wash or poultice; the seeds were also eaten like pistachios as a medicinal remedy. If not used for healing purposes, these capsules fall off and float their merry way downstream to spread their realm of influence further than mere gravity will allow. Today it is their sound that is healing, vibrating with the pure energy of song, the wail of the mourner.