Thursday, April 5, 2007

Trading Post Love

It should have been readily apparent what was in store for me when Barry White’s Love Theme came cascading over the clock radio on a recent Saturday morning. Love was still on the move when I arrived at the Twin Rocks trading post an hour later. Not long after I opened the store, a small group of uncommonly loquacious women from Northern California pushed their way through the Kokopelli doors and overwhelmed my quiet, peaceful mood. They had just come from a week at Kelly Place, and brought greetings from Jim, a former Irish Catholic priest who, for countless reasons, occupies a special place in our hearts.

Navajo Basket by Elsie Holiday
Elsie Holiday "Sisters" Basket

Spying an Elsie Holiday basket entitled “Sisters,” the vocal group became immediately enamored with the piece. They had been instrumental in a modest weaving renaissance among the Mono people, and basketry was of great interest to them. The price of the weaving, however, made them a little uneasy. As we talked, I explained the origin of the design and how it had been spawned by a Serena Supplee watercolor painting of the same name. The California travelers were uniformly enthusiastic, so one finally broke ranks and said, “Well, I recently received a small inheritance and I love that basket, so I should have it.” The rest of the ladies unanimously approved, so love carried the day.

Although still considered a novice by those in the know, over the years I have gained a modest amount of insight into the inner workings of love. As such, I have decided it is much like riding a bicycle on a blustery day; although you may struggle with the wind on the way out, once you make the homeward turn it is clear sailing. The challenge is persevering long enough to reach the turnaround. On the other hand, if the breeze is light at the beginning of the journey, you are probably in for turbulence later on. Rarely have I experienced smooth sailing over an entire expedition. Joseph Campbell, the noted mythologist, often described love as an ordeal, and I have come to agree. As I see it, you can either fight it or deal with it. I have learned to deal.

The next group to tumble into the Twin Rocks trading post was from Northern Utah, and they were in town to celebrate a 50th wedding anniversary. To say they were effusing emotion would be an understatement; they were gushing. Even though Barry recently observed his 20th year of marriage, double my best effort, I was glad he was off for the day. Too much love makes him squeamish, and with that much affection pulsating through the post, I could not help thinking he would have been unusually irritable.

Not that Barry’s romantic reticence is completely unmerited. For example, several years ago one of our close friends called to announce her upcoming marriage. After many years of searching for the ideal husband, she had finally found the right candidate. In fact, he was so right she insisted that a medicine man bless the ceremony, so the bond could never be broken. Barry secured the services of John Holiday, an old and well respected Navajo singer, to give the happy couple a nontraditional traditional ceremony.

Watercolor Paintings by Serena Supplee
Serena Supplee "Sisters" Watercolor

During the wedding, John informed the pair that his medicine was very powerful and that he traced its roots all the way back to the Long Walk. It must, therefor, be taken seriously he cautioned them. In fact, John informed both husband and wife that his ritual bound them together forever and that the medicine could not be undone without severe consequences.

After a few years of marital bliss, the matrimonial blanket became frayed and the couple decided to split. The divorce was consummated in the courts, and he and she went their separate ways. A year later we received a call from the former wife; she could not get John’s warning out of her mind, and his ceremony would not allow her to let go and move on. The matrimonial knot must be untied she said, and insisted John was the only one who could accomplish it.

Not long after John was requested to undo that union, I received a call from yet another friend who wanted her marriage consummated by a Navajo medicine man. Once I explained our prior experiences, and the associated complications, the presumptive bride opted for a visit to the justice of the peace. I guess Barry has been right all along; love is a dangerous experiment, especially when it comes with Reservations.

With warm regards,
Steve, Barry and the Team.

Copyright 2007 Twin Rocks Trading Post

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