“Late winter winds blow shards of glazed snow across our faces and howl through the tree tops. Many moons pass unseen. Neither the sun nor the stars dare come out to witness this unrelenting storm of winter.
On we must travel, my family, in search of the buffalo. I had passed my share to Sister days before, she must keep milk for little
ar rah, my nephew. Our dried meat is gone, now, for many nights. I am too young to go ahead with the hunting party but old enough to lead through the heavy snows, a trail for the tribe to follow.
We come to the edge of the trees, to the open lake. Spring is not the season to travel across frozen water yet on we walk proud and tall. No warm days have come to hint of a spring thaw.
I turn around often to check my followers. I have been given a horse this day, along with the honor to lead while the other braves have gone in search of meat. Women and children follow, leading their horses and dogs pulling loaded travois. Elders follow behind.
“Sheeeeek,” a lone hawk circles, somewhere above in the empty whiteness, searching for its mate. My mind wanders, imagining his flight as he dances through the falling frost.
Many moments I escape from the gnawing of my empty stomach and the sting of cold hands, lost in his graceful dives and swoops. Absorbed in feathers beating against ruthless cold winds, I dream with open eyes.
The shriek of another hawk calling in return brings me back to my cold reality. The wailing of the winds through the trees near the lake’s edge has taken on a mournful song. How long have I been dreaming? I look back again at my followers and hope they do not recognize my distrait.
To my horror, a dark image lingers crouched in the snow, motionless.
Someone has stopped. The lake is no place to stop and wait. “Not today!” I cry. Turning my horse, we struggle back through the heavy snow to face the trouble I failed to prevent.
Sister, not taking her eyes from mine, climbs through the deep drifts. Her bundle clutched to her breast, she stops my horse. One hand rose with an open palm she whispers, “Go back, young brother. Be strong. Be leader.”
I understand then as I see her tear.
The two hawks scream and are reunited.
I take my bundled nephew from Sister, giving her a lighter load, or to keep my thundering heart quiet. My nephew and I take back our lead.
The moaning wind sings quieter as we climb off the lake of ice and into the sheltering pines, leaving Grandmother as she chose.
Peering down into my bundle, I find Grandmother’s small sack of seeds, Sister handed to me along with the warm baby. I eat.”