Wednesday, April 1, 2009

In Search of Water Sprinkler

Two weeks ago I reported on my near-divorce experience, which resulted from my kitchen remodel. Fortunately, with a great deal of patience, perseverance and dumb luck, my wife and I survived the ordeal. I, however, still regret the dismissal of my proposal to invest in American Indian art, and will probably hold a grudge for some time. Some wise and thoughtful philosopher once said, "With the loss of desire comes enlightenment". I am most likely taking the intended meaning of this statement out of context, but I have stubbornly decided that I am no more educated or less desirous than when I started that discussion.

Mary Black with her Water Sprinkler Basket
Mary Black with her Water Sprinkler Basket

In addition to my passion for Laurie and the children, I have a strong emotional attachment to the art of the local indigenous people, and there are times when the two interests collide. As a result, casualties often occur. It is an unfortunate circumstance when my personal desires get in the way of Laurie's dreams for home and garden. In this particular instance, I had decided that to heal properly I needed to let go of my frustration and move on. Then, over breakfast Laurie hit me with a left hook, "Hey the kitchen came in under budget so we should put in a sprinkler system."

This "discussion" went on for several days. I argued with conviction that after my considerate concession it was my turn for self-gratification. I was in a spiteful mood and ready to spend the money on something closer to my heart. It was my turn! Laurie informed me that since she had recently gone to work full shift, and no longer had time to pull hoses around the yard, she needed help. I considered the possibility of being assigned the task, but decided she would not allow me the opportunity to turn her yard into a desert. I have learned through the years that I need only mess up once, twice at most, to be relieved of duty.

Feeling confident, I persisted in my efforts at self aggrandizement. Then, Laurie brought out the big guns. She informed me that being in the yard and in close touch with Mother Earth is the binder that keeps her sane. She could only accomplish this by working in the yard early and late, but needed to keep the fruits of her labor alive and well in the interim with consistent watering. Talk about unfair, the woman was using my love of mythology against me. The Changing Woman reference combined with an insanity plea was just too much. Ya see, Laurie knows I know that if she slips off the deep end, she drags the rest of us overboard with her. Thus, it is in my best interest to help her remain sane. That was dirty pool if you ask me. In spite of this knowledge, I went to work grumbling under my breath.

Shortly after arriving at Twin Rocks, Mary Holiday Black walked in with a really nice Water Sprinkler basket. Water Sprinkler humph! Coincidence only? Steve immediately bought the weaving and invited Mary to sit a while and talk about her design. Tina and Rosita hurriedly trundled down the stairs, armed to the teeth with recording devices and lighting equipment to capture the moment. Priscilla was brought in to interpret, and we were off to the races. Mary described how her medicine man father, Teddy Holiday, used this design in his sand paintings to represent Water Sprinkler. She added earrings representing corn pollen and mountain tobacco, signs of life and emergence, and a rim portraying the leaf of the juniper tree. Now that was fascinating stuff!

After Mary left, I decided to do a little research in order to better understand the symbolism behind her basket. The figure in the weaving reminded me of a Hopi mudhead, but who am I to argue with a master weaver and a Navajo medicine man? That would surely be "Bad Juju"! I pulled Gladys Reichard's "Navajo Religion" series down from the dusty shelf and began to read. I learned that Water Sprinkler is one of the oldest of the Navajo deities, with close association to the emergence. Water Sprinkler controls moisture from above and deep water from below. He causes rain by sprinkling the collected waters in his jar in the four sacred directions. A strangely developing parallel began to discomfort me. I read on.

In the Night Chant, Water Sprinkler is impersonated as a clown and his clothing is of inferior quality because he might get wet. He is usually out of step with the other dancers, and generally gets in their way. Oh man, the metaphor was getting to me. Was this coincidence or a strong psychological indicator? Water Sprinkler taught the Visionary of the Night Chant how to prepare and preserve the produce of his garden. Water Sprinkler is also associated with cleansing the mind, body and spirit. Was I the one going nuts, or were the Navajo deities I am so familiar with directing me towards enlightenment? I could not take it any longer, and became convinced that I should give into Laurie's wishes.

Ringing her up at work, I told Laurie to go ahead. Sheepishly, she told me she had already contacted my old wrestling buddy turned plumber, "Mr Smith" to get started. He was digging ditches as we spoke. I asked her what she would have done if I had not come around. She laughed and said, "Kicked you in a trench, covered you with the good earth and planted a red fern." Smart aleck woman!

With Warm Regards,
Barry, Steve and the Team.

Copyright 2009 Twin Rocks Trading Post

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