Friday, October 15, 2010

Day 5 - Teesto and a Sad Farewell

Small Rug Purchased at the
Adopt a Native Elder Food Run.
It's the last day of the three-part food run with the Adopt a Native Elder Program. Yesterday was amazing. The elders, many of whom have visibly aged, were there in full force. Everyone showed up! I even purchased a beautiful rug to display on a wall in my hallway.

Today we actually slept in a bit. There was no morning meeting but we did need to pack our cars and check out of the Lodge Motel in Winslow if we were to drive home after the Teesto food run.

We lined up, Howard gave a blessing and  smudged the cars. It was a bittersweet time as we knew this was our last time together on this Food Run.

And off we went, re-tracing our journey of the previous day. This time we turned east before we reached the Hopi Mesas. We were going to Teesto, which was closer. The valley and rock formations were as beautiful as they were the previous day. The drive up the dirt road to the Jackson's was a drive back in time. We arrived and saw a few sheep in a pen and were guided to where I could unload the last of my potatos.

The Jackson family has gone all-out. They constructed a sturdy, huge shade house and have state of the art outhouses with cushioned seats. I've come to love the outhouses that have views of the beautiful land. If you are there without a crowd, you could leave the door open and have the most incredible view. (but I digress)

My work of the previous day was repeated, but on a smaller scale... open boxes, put give-aways on the tables and be available for other duties as assigned. I was called over to the tarp to help put out the clothing. I quickly gained a respect for the "tarpies" who bent over to fold and place clothing. It wreaks havoc on the back! With that duty finished, we returned to "headquarters" in time to go around the circle and greet the elders one by one. By gently touching each hand, in the Navajo manner, we let them know that we were happy to see them. I recognized many faces from previous food runs.

We had become a rather well-oiled machine and worked together well. Everyone was motivated and pitched in. Meanwhile the Jackson kitchen was bustling with activity. We wondered what they had in store for us!

The program of previous days was repeated. Welcomes, envelopes, Belaganna Cowboy skit and Hula Dance contest. All were enjoyed thoroughly. The giveways were equally appreciated. Things went more quickly as there were fewer elders at this food run.

The elders brought up their rugs to donate to the program. We were surprised as there were quite a few... mostly smaller rugs. All woven with love.

And then it was time for lunch. We served the elders and then enjoyed "clamshells" made up especially for us.... hamburgers, potato salad and a marvelous apple cobbler proudly baked by the Bird Springs cooks.

As quickly as we were finished, my role as "measuring woman," was needed. Linda and Wendy made the rounds purchasing rugs for the upcoming rug show. Sometimes an elder had to be coaxed to show her rug. Often they placed a folded rug on their sales table and then covered it with jewelry. Others came up to Linda requesting that she purchase a rug. By the end of the buying spree, the program had a full box of rugs and jewerlry.

Did I succumb to "rug fever?" Well, I have to admit that I did. I saw a set of small rugs which depicted both traditional rug designs and pictorals with a hogan and sheep. Linda bought 4 and I bought one.... and planned to display it on an end table. So that was now two rugs... two more than I anticipated purchasing. However, they spoke to me and the elders certainly appreciated the money.

As the work ended we gathered in a large circle. We were thanked for our work and one by one we went around the circle and hugged our friends good-bye. I appreciated each and every one of the faces I saw in that circle. They had become family and I hope to see many of them in six months at the Spring food run.