Late nights, (really late dinners in the dark, sometimes at 11 pm) early mornings and lots of physical activity combine with our annual vision quest to make the 10 days very intense -- fulfilling, exhausting, uplifting, deep and full of life and power.
After two days driving back to Montana, we had only a few hours to pick up our teacher and his family at the airport, then take them to the annual Peace Encampment north of Helena. I spent the time unpacking everything (massive piles of laundry, camping gear, ceremonial stuff) washing blankets, clothes etc, getting groceries for the next five days for 6+ people, then repacking everything in preparation for the encampment. We were making preparations until 10 minutes before their plane arrived, and still got to the airport in time. Whew!
The Peace Encampment is a gathering of people -- American and Canadian Indians and others, for the purpose of holding four of the old ceremonies that had almost been lost because there are so few spiritual leaders who still have the knowledge to lead these dances: the Ghost Dance (or Jump Dance) Deer Dance, Prairie Chicken Dance and Horse Dance. People come from as far away as Saskatchewan, Alberta, California, Washington and European countries to attend the ceremonies. This summer was the 9th year. The late Pat Kennedy, a native elder from the Blackfeet nation, began the encampment and ceremonies after having a vision that he was to bring back the dances to the people. Our teacher and shaman, Brant Secunda, leads the Deer Dance and it is our great honor to be able to support him in the ceremonies and do general cooking, setting up etc, during the encampment. This was the second time the encampment came right on the heels of our Shasta summer group meeting.
Now that Brant and his family have left Helena, things are sortof getting back to our normal routine. Gabe rode his bike from Eugene to Helena and is here for a couple of weeks. Mickey will arrive this weekend with Jenny, so we will still have a full house, but I am so happy to have them here! I always think to myself "You never know, this may be the last time you have your kids home for an extended visit, though I hope not!"
The back porch is covered with camping gear waiting to be put away, coolers airing out in the sun, clean laundry hanging out to dry, Gabe's stuff, bikes, tons of stuff -- it looks like an explosion. I'm slowly working on the pile. Meantime I have my landscape design work to catch up on.
August is hot here in Helena. The garden is looking weary, droppy, crispy in spots -- it hasn't been watered consistently and it shows! Days are hot; nights cool off around 2 am; mornings are perfect - coolish (at least in the shade) until around 9:30 am - best time to work outside. I'm happy.