9781571780782

When the Night Bird Sings

by
  • ISBN13:

    9781571780782

  • ISBN10:

    1571780785

  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 1999-05-01
  • Publisher: Pgw
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Supplemental Materials

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  • The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

Summary

The author of "A Cherokee Feast of Days" offers touching vignettes based on her own childhood, family, and experiences throughout a lifetime of living close to the land. Line drawings.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Foreword
My People
17(5)
E lis I, Grandmother
22(4)
Uncle Carl
26(2)
Papa
28(6)
A Place of Peace
34(3)
To Have And to Hold
37(1)
Hills of Summer
38(4)
Flowers
42(2)
Picnic On Anderson Creek
44(6)
Uncle
50(2)
Christmas Love
52(3)
Reassurance
55(2)
Natural Power
57(3)
Wind
60(2)
The Fine Art of Wine Making
62(2)
A New Grandfather
64(3)
Message Within A Message
67(2)
Old Wah-ya', My Friend
69(7)
Leaves From A Coon Tree
76(5)
Living By Personal Measures
81(2)
Hearing without Understanding
83(3)
A Sudden Burst of Song
86(2)
E Lis I's Passing
88(4)
Old-Timer
92(3)
Saying Ahead of Time
95(1)
Listen And Heed the Laws
96(1)
What Eden Was, What Paradise May Be
97(2)
Brother And Sister Harrell
99(2)
Seasons
101(3)
Free...But Not Easy
104(3)
Tracks
107(2)
Prairie Indian
109(4)
Rounding Up the Cattle
113(2)
Old Major
115(2)
Whisper of the Land
117(3)
Seb And Me, And Fun
120(2)
The Sheriff's Office
122(4)
Rabbit Run
126(2)
Comfort Me
128(1)
The Woman in the Mirror
129(3)
The Pulse of Life
132(2)
Winter is Over
134(2)
We Are Friends Forever
136(5)
Surprising Kinship
141(2)
Even Before Computers
143(2)
Grandfather
145(4)
Lace, Diamond Necklaces, And Mantels
149(2)
Marching To Success
151(2)
How to Be Rich
153(2)
Deep, Dark, And Lovely Woods
155(2)
The Song And the Vision
157(2)
Lessons Well Learned
159(2)
Ninety-Six And Holding
161(4)
Old Woods, New Trees
165(1)
No Time Like This---No End of the Road
166(1)
Old Crooked Leg
167
Index

Excerpts


Chapter One

MY PEOPLE

PAPA TAUGHT ME how to shoot, Uncle Carl taught me how to cuss, Grandmother E lis i taught me how to gather herbs and greens, and Eli sti, Cherokee Mama, taught me how to pray. It was the latter that saved me.

"You are a Cherokee, and you are a Sequichie. Act like it."

Such words cover a multitude of rules for behavior, and I lived by them.

Mama in Cherokee is E li sti. My mama's nickname was Gyp, short for Gypsy, because she had dark skin and green eyes.

Mama was afraid of nothing. Not of dogs -- the neighbor's dog, Bingo, bit everybody in the neighborhood except Mama.

Not even of snakes. As we walked to the mailbox each day, we had to go over a rocky hill where I gathered little round rocks to put in the rock garden. One day, Mama saw a huge blacksnake crawling up over a bank beside the road. She said "You know, I always heard a person couldn't pull a snake backward. I wonder if it's true." I started yelling because I knew she was going to try it. Sure enough, she grasped the snake's tail, braced her feet and tried with all her strength to pull it back toward her, but to no avail. Finally she dropped the snake's tail and brushed the dirt off her hands. "Well," she said, "They were right."

Her strength amazed me. I saw her put a splint on a young heifer that had fallen and broken a leg. Most farmers would have said the heifer had to be destroyed, but not Mama. She held that heifer down, put its leg in a splint, and it lived to bear many calves.

After I'd had a tonsillectomy Mama was sitting with me in the hospital when several wreck victims were brought in for emergency treatment. The hospital was short on staff so she was drafted to help out. She worked for hours helping to set broken limbs, sew up cuts and bind up wounds. When he heard about it later, Papa said, "Well, I didn't know they could ask someone to help that was not a nurse." Uncle Carl said, "This hospital brings in people to sweep for a couple of days and then calls them nurses. Gyp's a nurse."

But those same hands that wrestled with snakes and set broken bones did delicate needlework. Most of the time we embroidered and Mama tatted lace with nothing but thread and a little celluloid shuttle. She worked long at her little Singer pedal sewing machine and was a genius at cutting her own patterns and making my school clothes out of hand-me-downs. Any little scraps of fabric left over were knitted into rugs or stitched into beautiful quilts.

Mama was strong-willed and self-sufficient, traits which helped her raise me and many of her sister's children. Aunt Nina had ten children and Mama provided a complete layette for each one as they came along. When my cousin Es went to college, Mama made her clothes. A lot of love went into the things she made, as well as work. And she prayed for all of the children, too, as they grew up and went away to school or to war.

Mama also wrote a news column for the Nowata Star . One item that she wrote said, "The Yorks transacted business in the city this week." But when type was set, it turned out, "The Yorks ransacked business in the city this week." Uncle Carl never let Mama forget how she insulted our good neighbors.

Many young men and many nephews lived nearby and all of them had great respect for "Aunt Gyp." She saw my cousin Bus and his friend Bill York slip into the shed one day but she said nothing because they came right out and left without a word. After they were a safe distance away, she went to the shed and found a half-pint of whiskey hidden. She knew they were attending a party that night. Mama emptied half of the liquor from the bottle, poured water into it and returned it to its hiding place in the shed. Many years passed before she admitted what she'd done. "Weak whiskey!" Bus said after her confession. "And we thought we could really hold our liquor. We didn't even get a buzz!"

I grew up believing Mama could do anything. She had a second sense about many things. She could find lost articles and often found nests that setting hens and guineas would hide in the woods.

I was playing in the rock garden one day when I heard a drone. As it grew louder and louder I made a dash for the house. When I told Mama what I heard, she said, "Oh! It must be a swarm of bees!"

She left the sewing machine, ran to the shed and brought out an old tub. Then she found a heavy stick, and began beating the tub with it.

"Shout as loud as you can!" she told me. "We are going to settle those bees!"

We made enough noise until one by one they began to settle on a tree limb. Soon there was a round ball of crawling, humming bees around the limb. But we did not have a hive to put them in, so gradually, they flew away again. Honey for biscuits would have to wait until we found a bee tree in the woods. Still, I learned how to settle bees should I ever decide to be a beekeeper.

By the same practical methods that she used to settle bees or remake hand-me-down dresses, Mama taught me to pray. From Mama I learned early that prayer never fails -- unless there is no faith at all. She told me about the time I was a baby and had diphtheria. The doctor told her I would not live through the night, but she wouldn't accept such a negative edict. She prayed through the night and I was cured. She never told me and I never asked, but I have a feeling that in those prayers she dedicated me to the work I am doing -- and the Great One honored that request.

I learned from Mama that the true church is within each of us, and it is a personal responsibility to keep it orderly and to worship there often. I have not forgotten. I go there every day.

Copyright 1999 Joyce Sequichie Hifler. All rights reserved.

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