Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Road Home

Alicia Nelson Yei-bi-chai Basket
Yei-be-chei Basket by Alicia Nelson

Alicia Nelson generously agreed to meet Alyssa, McKale and me at the trading post first thing last Saturday morning. We were to film a video clip of Alicia explaining her latest creation; a striking Yei-be-chei basket. Yeis are some of the most positive and effective healers in Navajo culture. and I wanted my daughters to hear of their significance from someone who had a more personal relationship with the deities and the art.

Alyssa and McKale were purchasing the basket as part of the "Traders in Training" program. We initiated this effort to ensure that our children get to know the crazily diverse and unique group of artists we grapple with on a daily basis. We are also hopeful the kids gain a better understanding of economics than we have been able to acquire.

After completing the taping session, I was obliged to run the girls part way back to Blanding; Laurie needed help with Christmas baking duties. My wife loves the Holidays, and has taught our daughters her sweet culinary skills. The neighbors love the treats as much as I do. With diligent instruction from Laurie, our daughters have evolved into handy kitchen helpers. I long ago recognized the fact that cookies, fudge and candy help me relieve the stress of the holiday season, so I was easily convinced to provide the shuttle.

We jumped in the van and cruised north, up Cow Canyon on our way to meet their mother. Alyssa and McKale were reminded of "the good old days," when I brought them and Spenser to Bluff and let them ride their Razor scooters down White Mesa Hill and then Cow Canyon. The girls laughed out loud as they recalled how Spense had let it all hang loose and sped down the hills hardly using his brakes.

Alyssa was slightly more timid, setting a reasonable, yet still thrilling, pace. McKale was the youngest and most reluctant to, "let 'er go." She nearly melted her shoe by riding the brake so hard, and picked up a little "asphalt rash" when she fell near the end. We were all laughing heartily before we exited the canyon. Good memories those!

Alyssa remembered a time, a year or so back, when our family pushed off from Blanding on a bicycle ride to Bluff. She had tried to pedal the entire route of 26 miles, but had fallen just short of her goal. She was looking forward to giving it another go next summer. I reminisced with the girls on the hundreds of times I have made the trip back and forth to Bluff. They rolled their eyes, anticipating another walking barefoot in the snow story.

I tried to explain to the girls how personal something so impersonal can be. This highway is a ribbon of memories for me I explained. I remember pulling up out of Cow Canyon, packed into the back of an old beat-up pickup truck, surrounded by my brothers and sisters, joking, laughing and sharing that loving feeling much as my daughters and I were. I recall riding rust bucket one-speed bikes and the latest technologically-advanced multi-speed cruisers to and from Bluff on a regular basis.

Santa Claus Carving by Marvin Jim & Grace Begay
Navajo Santa Clause Folk Art Carving

It seems like each curve and bump in the road brings back a memory. Bright light and shadow expose ghostlike visions of some experience or emotion. There is great happiness in certain bends and twists of the road, and depressing, hurtful sadness in others. I have to say that the overwhelming percentage of time I spend on this highway has proved positive. This old road has given me much time to think before I react, and allowed me time to meditate and realize the important issues in my life and those I come into contact with.

As we topped out on White Mesa Hill, I saw lights flashing on an oncoming van. I smiled to myself as I realized we had intercepted the mother of my precious offspring. Here too was one of the most valuable treasures I have discovered while traveling this scenic byway. I have been a trial to this woman. Somehow she has survived the missteps, outright mistakes and the mayhem I continually stir-up. I expect to receive a well-deserved marital pink slip at any moment, but greatly appreciate any reprieve she allows me.

After bidding my wife and daughters au revoir, I turned the car in a southerly direction, to return to Bluff and the adventure awaiting me at the trading post. I had added another pleasant memory to the stretch of road between Blanding and Bluff and knew it would return on significant occasions. The Holiday season provides me a gift of peace, happiness and love; a gift from our creator through those that care for us. Here at Twin Rocks Trading Post we wish you the same. Merry Christmas!

With warm regards,
Barry, Steve and the Team.

No comments: