(I decided to write a monthly Muscogee Nation News Column though I no longer do them. I used to write them as an unpaid service for the Nation. The paper discontinued them. Here goes--here's a maverick MNN column. Enjoy.)
It’s one of those late winter mornings in the Creek Nation. Light patches of snow dot the ground make me think about patterning. There is some order to how the snow catches and holds but I can’t quite see it from the perspective of the glass doors in the kitchen.
I was recently at the Ucross Foundation, at a ranch outside Sheridan, Wyoming, holed up writing. One day it snowed all day. On the drive from the writing studio to the residence the wind had drifted the snow into elegant, undulating patterns. The snow was about three feet deep by early evening and we slowly plowed through it. We admired the patterns. They created beauty in our minds, a kind of snow music.
The patterns of snowfall this morning make no beautiful sense. What they tell me is that the flashing signs on highway 75 from Tulsa to Glenpool were wrong. There was no need to take cover for a blizzard.
Being a weather prophet is a tough business. The meteorologist reads the signs from gadgets that report barometric pressure, temperature and other details. They now have sophisticated satellite images from which to read. Every one of us has this information on non-stop streaming weather channels. A storm may be approaching from the west in a discernible pattern, marching slowly across the land or making some kind of wind-driven haphazard trail. Often we’re right in our predictions, and just as often we can be wrong, though some of us learn to catch the rhythms more precisely.
One of my favorite classes in all of my experience as a student from kindergarten through college was a physics class in junior high. We leaned how to fly to the moon. We also learned how to tell the weather using various gauges. I learned that if you developed your gauge reading skills and watched the patterns you could get a pretty good sense of prevailing conditions and what shape they were likely to take. Since then I’ve learned that birds, animals and plants are probably a little sharper than civilized humans when it comes to such things, and seem to know what’s going on ahead of the arc.
However you do it, we read patterns and make predictions. The storm will either get here or not, and ultimately it has its own mind. Yes, even a storm has a kind of mind that guides it.
When I look back over my life from the perspective of now, I see both elegant waves and chaotic patches of trouble. They make a story. Some of the story is difficult to speak or to even fully understand. Other parts of the story fold sweetly from one detail to the next, like catching a wave in an outrigger canoe that takes you all the way in. I feel like I am on such a wave right now, even as I am still taking care to understand the patterns in chaos. Often, those patterns are the most creative, though they may be the most challenging, even painful. We humans are created of both—they make a weave and even constitute the energetic system of our minds, bodies and spirits. When we stand back far enough to get a perspective, we can see the music in the system, how every small thought of human or cloud matters, and shifts the direction of the weather.
c Joy Harjo February 26, 2013 Glenpool, OK