Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Day Three - Perfect Weather - Cowboys and Hula Dancers

Yes, I am still on the Food Run bringing supplies to the traditional Navajo Elders! First, let me explain that the weather out at Sanders was perfect. It was sunny, the winds were still (as opposed to last Spring when we endured 40+ mph winds), and the elders were smiling.

We had our usual breakfast meeting at Flying J at 6:30am. It was crisp out at that point. As I drove to the restaurant, the pink of the sunrise was absolutely beautiful. We had our meeting, and were reminded to double-up so as to not have to drive empty trucks to this small food run. The elders in the program numbered 27 grandmothers and 8 grandfathers. That was close to one volunteer per elder! Of course when you add in the cute kids and family members, the shade house did get crowded.

We turned off the freeway at the Navajo Travel Center and drove south, then east into the countryside. Down a dirt road, we saw elders and Ella, the coordinator, already waiting for us. The volunteers got busy unloading trucks and vans and we set up operations in the shade house. My job for the day was to assist Linda and Wendy, program heads. That involved opening boxes, putting out giveaways, organizing the distribution of the goodies and doing whatever they needed. Later I found my self in the role of "measuring woman" as the program purchased rugs from the weavers and needed measurements.

Oh yes, the "cowboys and hula dancers"... Each food run, the program dreams up ways to amuse the elders while they wait for lunch. This time, it involved contests of humor and agility... great exercise for older folks. A group of Navajo men were chosen to compete in a rodeo event using stick horses. And, since that was so much fun for all, the women got into the act and were volunteered to learn the hula... all while clad in beach towels and flower leis over their traditional garb. The audience chose the winners.

For those wondering why I don't have photos of these great events, let me share with you that our program has only one photographer designated to take photos. If it was not done this way, the elders would be overwhelmed with people snapping photos.

After the giveaways were distributed, lunch was served. The eldest are served first. The volunteers are next and then all visitors and family members receive a lunch.

After lunch is over, the elders and family are invited to sell their wares. There were lovely rugs, gift items and jewelry. My job, as measuring woman, was to follow the program people as they purchased rugs and measure them. With the big rug sale coming up in Park City, many rugs were purchased. I loved measuring them because I got to touch the beautiful weavings and look at the patterns close-up.

We had a great day and then headed back toward the freeway and stopped at Burnham's Trading Post for an ice cream and some shopping. Burnhams has some wonderful rugs and pawn jewelry. Most of all we enjoy Bruce Burnham and his tall trading tales.

It was a great day and we look forward to Big Mountain tomorrow and the largest group of elders that we serve.

Note: For those who have asked me individual questions, I will be able to answer them when I return. With all that is going on here on the food run, writing the blog is about all that I can handle, here in old Winslow!