There was a strange car in the driveway and a knock upon the door. When I yelled ”Biindigen,” come in, Mitch Walking Elk came up the stairs smiling.
It was good to see Mitch again, it musta been five years since we shared a coffee pot. He stopped by the World Headquarters of the Fond du Lac Follies on Northrup Road in Sawyer. We drank coffee and filled in the missing years.
He gave me a tape of his latest album. It is called a Contribution To Peace. I listened to it and Mitch has the same powerful voice. When not on the stage singing Mitch has another gig. He works for the Indigenous Peoples Task Force. I heard that earlier he had been at Fond du Lac’s Health Fair and was giving out what are called Mini-Snag bags.
Mitch showed me a Mini-Snag Bag. The clear plastic bag contained a dozen condoms and three tubes of water-based gel lubricant. He gives them away so people will get the message of preventing AIDS.
There was a moose alert here on Northrup Road. My sister, Nita, called me and told me how a moose walked close by her house and was headed my way. Nita lives about 500 yards south of me so we sounded the Moose Alert. We had company visiting from the Lower Sioux Reservation.
There were five kids playing in the yard and it didn’t take them long to come running up to the deck. The six adults sitting inside visiting quickly ran out to join the kids on the deck. There were 22 eyeballs looking for the moose. We waited and watched. Nothing, no moose.
A later report said the moose took a turn and walked near where Bill Moose used to live.
Of course that started everyone telling moose and other animal stories. Pat told about the three bears that walked through our yard. It was a mother and two cubs. The kids came running in to tell us they saw bears coming. The three bears walked by the house looking like they owned it. Pat described how I went out on the back porch and hollered at the bears. I remember telling them to get the hell out of here, they were scaring the kids. The three bears just looked at me. I said something similar in Ojibwe and the bears took off running, they were heading for the swamp. I thought, hmmm, bears understand Ojibwe.
I told of the time I was walking in the woods north of Big Lake between the road and the pipeline. I was looking for birch bark. I saw movement and froze in place. A large brown critter came strolling into view.
I went through my checklist – dog, no –wolf, no –coyote, no, –bobcat, no –puma, yes. I was looking at a cougar. We were about fifty yards apart.
The big cat looked at me. I looked back. About then I realized I was no longer the top dog in the food chain. It made me wish I had more than a Buck knife. I wanted a gun, a machine gun, grenades or artillery, maybe even close air support.
The big cat and I had a staring contest that lasted several hours but was really only about sixty seconds. I admired the beautiful cat. It looked graceful while just standing there, the only movement was the occasional flick of his long tail. I remember thinking it wouldn’t be a good idea to get into a foot race against those claws and teeth.
The brownish-yellow puma turned his head and I saw his muscles rippling as he glided away. I think it was a him, could have been a her. I didn’t want to get close enough to find out. The last thing I saw was that long tail waving goodbye.
Then another time Pea and me were riding on East Pine Drive on the northern part of the Rez. We were doing about 55 and making billowing clouds of dust on that gravel road. Pea was looking into the woods as is his custom. He said one word.
I said, “What?”
“I saw an owl back there.”
I slowed down, stopped and backed up about a quarter mile. Pea said, “Stop.”
I looked but I couldn’t see any owls.
Pea said, “Do you see him, sitting on a branch next to that dark tree, about fifteen feet up from the ground?” He was pointing with his lips.
I looked until I finally saw the owl. He was there, about 75 yards in the woods.
We eyeballed each other for a while and then I drove off. I asked Pea how he was able to see that owl as we went roaring by. Pea said, “He blinked.”