Raven thoughtfully chewed on a word. “Quotidian…..” “Hummm, the everyday; good word, tasty word.” She dried her hands on a dish cloth, then tidily placed the freezer bags of carefully prepared roadside carrion onto a shelf in the freezer. Inspecting her work, she felt a moment of something approaching glee. Her family would not go hungry this winter. “Odd,” she though, “It’s been nearly 200 years since that terrible long walk and she still worried about being hungry.
Raven was dubious of much modern civilization but she had to admit that cars and freezers had made her life much easier. Road kill was a godsend, delicious if you got to it in time, and much less work than hunting and gathering used to be. The freezers held enough meat, fish, fruit, and vegetables to feed her brood and neighbors to boot.
Her chores done, at least for the moment, she picked up the cable remote and dialed through the channels. “400 channels and nothing to watch,” she muttered. It was still 45 minutes before her favorite soap came on. She had watched many soaps over the years, and lately had become enamored of a couple that were in Spanish. Somehow, amongst the passion and the mayhem, she found something comforting, maybe that Chicana caring for the mundane.
Raven grabbed up her cell and called Beaver. “You have a cold? You sound all watery,” she quipped as soon as Beaver answered. Beaver had secured one of those new waterproof phones, and now could talk without having to leave her lodge. She chose to ignore Raven.
“Did you hear about poor Porcupine?” Beaver queried, cutting straight to the friendly gossip they both relished.
Raven seemed to be listening intently, so Beaver continued. “You know she’s been hanging around with Badger?” Anyway the two of them were out enjoying the full moon last week. You remember how warm it was? Anyway, they got all caught up in the moment and everything. I guess things got pretty hot and there were clothes flying all over. All of a sudden there was an explosion right above them! No joke, honestly! Listen, Porcupine was so scared she shot quills in every direction; they had to take Badger to the ER.”
“Really?!” Raven replied. She had some sense Old Man Coyote was involved but had the good grace to wait for Beaver to continue. “What happened?”
“Why it was that old fart, Coyote. He was watching them the entire time. Just at the crucial moment he set off a Roman Candle in the air just above them. Why, I heard Grouse and Turkey overheard him muttering and laughing to himself all the way home!”
” Seems about right,”mused Raven. “How’s Badger?”
“He’ll be fine. Real sore I bet. Rabbit was working that night; she said they took out HUNDREDS of quills! Took hours!”
“How are the kids?” asked Raven.
“I guess they are OK. I swear Mary is never going to learn to swim underwater. She paddles up as close as she can get to the door of the lodge, gulps in some air, pushes herself down, and comes up into the lodge gasping. She’s 16 for heaven’s sake! Oscar called the other day. He’s really enjoying College. You know he’s studying Education, wants to be a teacher. Only he says the books are a bit whacked, especially the history books. Why, in one of the books it said the Indians in Georgia got up one day in 1825, decided to move West, and donated their land to the U.S. government. Really!”
“I’ve taken to only reading books written by authors from India,” Raven responded. “At least they know how to use English. And they write about the real, the everyday, making it sacred. That’s a lost art. Oh, and now and then I read Indigenous lit, often from someplace like Australia or Canada. No joke, they write really fine…. Went West? Really?!”
Holding her cell carefully, Raven moved over to the stove and stirred the stew that was simmering there. “I’m making corn and black bean stew with the dried corn Crow gave us last summer. You know, corn is a lot like wine; it takes on the quality of the field where it’s grown. This corn tastes and smells a little like fish, so I imagine she got it from one of the traditional fields near the village. We threw in some salmon to enhance the flavor. I can’t decide though, should I add a little sherry or just some pinot blanc?
Beaver voted for the pinot. “What’s for desert?” she asked, imagining she could smell the stew bubbling away on the wood stove.
“Apple pudding with whipped cream, Chickadee’s fave,” Raven sang. “We’ve some of that bannock left over; I’ll warm it up in garlic and butter. It’ll go great with the soup. I’ll make fresh coffee to go with the pudding. Hey, We’ve got lots of food here. Why don’t you all come over for dinner?”
“Perfect! Thank you!” exclaimed Beaver. “Listen, I just took a stuffed Hubbard squash from the oven. How about I bring that? What time should we come?
“Being a school night, let’s make it 5:30. The school bus doesn’t drop the kids off till almost 5, and they’re famished by the time they make it up to the house.”
Ending the call, Raven glanced up at the clock. “2:57,” she noted, “better pour myself another cup of coffee and turn on the tube.” She chuckled as she looked at her flat screen TV that had no tube, grabbed the coffee and a couple of oversized oatmeal cookies, and, remote in hand, sank down into the sofa.