Yesterday we took down most of our Christmas decorations, including the small Nativity set which consists mostly of an array of animals, both wild and domestic, that surround a manger and child. The idea behind the tableau is the ancient circumpolar Indigenous knowing that the animals welcome us at birth, and support us throughout our lives.
Later, we read, what for us is a new children’s’ book, A Coyote Solstice Tale by Thomas King, with pictures by Gary Clement. A Coyote Solstice Tale is, as one might well expect of a tale from Thomas King, both heartbreaking and hilarious. The story turns on a little girl, who dressed as a reindeer, takes refuge from civilization by fleeing into the great forest. She trudges through the snow and cold til she shows up at Coyote’s door on the night of the Winter Solstice. Coyote and the other animals decide to help her find her way home. Continue reading
Coyote slowly climbed the hill, kicking the empty can before her. Her course was a rough zig-zag, although the slope of the incline was not severe. Every now and again the can would disappear into a pothole and she would have to stop and dig it out.
Coyote was deep in thought. Something was nagging her although she was not clear yet as to exactly what that might be. She looked around, noticing the state of the landscape through which she passed. Every now and again she shook her head. This head shaking was entirely unconscious, tending to occur in the space between can kicks. Continue reading
I am very fond of tricksters. That fondness has not always been here. While it is not exactly recent, it has been slow to ripen into my present affection.
I feel particularly warm towards Old Man Coyote (Raven and Crow, too). Old Man Coyote has been much maligned by good society. He’s an opportunist and a rascal. He’s also loyal, playful. and often kind. Not that he doesn’t disrupt the ease and calm of everyday life. He does that for sure. He just does his best to get through life, creating and recreating the world and our fortunes as he goes. That seems to upset some folks who decide Old Man Coyote is no good, maybe he’s even evil.
Seems to me such a position misses the mark. Old Man is more complex than that.
Michael Melville posted a piece about Old Man this week. It’s a good read.
My amazingly true and synchronous stories began with the entrance of the Native American Trickster, Coyote. Well that’s not true, or maybe it is, maybe I just didn’t know Coyote was behind me all my life. It is like I have been riding on his magic carpet since I was a child. I just didn’t know who or what to blame for all the crazy dreams, psychic abilities, and unsolicited life stories people told me. Well I guess that’s one of the problems of being a good listener. My Grandfather was a coyote. I used to sit with him and listen to him tell me all sorts of wonderful stories. But no one knew he was a coyote. He never confessed he was. I had to figure that out on my own.
In case you are not familiar with Coyote, I should begin by saying that he/she is a fabulous character in Native American myths and legends. Coyote is a Trickster, who often plays tricks on himself while thinking he is tricking one of our four-legged relatives. A creative spirit, Coyote is the one who made us humans. I guess Coyote was bored one day, so he created us to entertain himself. He amuses himself by putting us into embarrassing situations to see what we will do. Often we surprise him, so he gets a good laugh as he plays with us.
The Coyote and The Raven were talking. They like each other’s company, even though sometimes they compete a little.
The Raven mopped the sweat from his face with a bandana. The bandana was soon wet through and useless.
“Sure is hot,” said The Coyote. “All this fur was fine when the weather was colder. Now it’s a nuisance.” Continue reading