My Magical, Mystical Pueblo Birthday

The Seed Is Sown

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September 30, 1971 

I live with my husband Kirk in Boca Raton, Florida. He’s finishing his Masters in Ceramics at Florida Atlantic University. Kirk is a potter, a painter, a sculptor, and a cartoonist. He also plays the French horn and guitar and stands six foot five inches tall in his bare feet. He is as exciting and unpredictable as he is tall.

He has invited a few people over to our place to help celebrate my birthday. The apartment is a large, light filled studio. It looks out onto a screened porch that faces a large expanse of grass and cypress trees. It is night, and we all sit around in a circle. I was talking “I’m on stage,” I say to our gathered friends. “That’s because you’re an actress!” Kirk’s new manager says this to me, and everyone laughs. The next day will be very fabulous, because Kirk has a ceramics show opening in a big Miami art gallery.
 
The faces are lit by the light from the candles which I’d set on the bookcases against the wall. “What will I be doing twenty years from now? On my fortieth birthday. Forty. That’s when I’ll come into my own.” The thought surprises me. I forget about it and go on with my life, no longer as a teenager.
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EIGHTEEN AND A HALF YEARS LATER

I walk up the porch stairs of a clapboard house in Vancouver, British Columbia. I’m a student at the Vancouver Film school, and in the midst of shooting a short documentary. My DP David has recommended his father to compose the music. He said his dad was a musician, and that he played with the Zydeco country rock band, Blue Northern. That impressed me, and here I am about to meet David’s father.

A sharp memory again: yellow bird perched on the branch of a small tree that grew alongside the wooden steps of the house

 [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

How strange it is to see this bird so close to me. By Wolfgang Wander

The smallish porch has many things hanging from various places. There are tiny bones and stones attached to ropes of sage grass, and they make a tinkling sound as I knock on the door.

The energy is palpable before he opens the door.

I am about to meet one of the big loves of my life

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We have to park a distance from the Pueblo, because no cars can drive inside. We walk down a long dirt road, passing a couple of medium sized light yellow dogs. They lie on the ground, and the only moving parts of their bodies are their wagging tails. Dust swirls in the air around them. We finally came to a house, in front of which sits a fierce looking man in a lawn chair. Jimmy says, “Tell Us Good Morning!” The man is gruff in his response. He points toward some houses further down the road, but not until after giving me the once-over. I start feeling that it has been a mistake for me to enter this Pueblo. I see the history of the Americas, and at this moment I know that I represent the entire White race.

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We continue walking until we come to a house surrounded by lush greenery. This is the only greenery around, and it stands out in the desert atmosphere. An opening in the green reveals what lies beyond. I see a beautiful flower garden. Rocks form a spiraling path that traverses through it.

It is enormous and very green inside. A tiny old lady in faded overalls stands in the midst of rose bushes. She wears a huge straw hat, and holds gardening shears. As soon as she sees us she gestures for us to come in. Jimmy goes, but I can’t budge. I again feel as I had a few minutes earlier. I am too white, and not worthy of going any further. I watch while the old lady and Jimmy start up an animated conversation. She looks up and takes a look at me standing outside her arbor. She looks concerned, and then smiles and again gestures for me to come in. This time I do.

The Magical, Mystical Arbor at The Pueblo

The most peculiar thing happens as soon as I step through the arbor. The scent of jasmine and roses envelops me as I enter, and the space inside looks like a huge, natural arena. I start to run. As I do, my body feels smaller and smaller so that by the time I reach the old lady I am looking up into her eyes. They are huge and brown, and they sparkle as she holds her arms wide open for me to come into. As she embraces me I am a five year old child coming home to her grandmother. She throws her head back and laughs and it sounds like bells. Now I am towering over her, but she will not let go of my hand.
 

The Guest Of Honor

Jimmy is also laughing, and we turn to see a very old, tall, and elegant man emerge from the house. He stands strong and straight. Two long gray braids fall down his back, with feathers hanging from their tips. It is Tell Us Good Morning, and the lady is his wife Pauline. Tell Us (as he asks us to call him), is quite impressed when Jimmy tells him that today is my fortieth birthday. Every September thirtieth, the San Geronimo festival takes place at the Pueblo. This is the Pueblo people’s’ most sacred day of the year, when the harvest comes in an

That evening, in honor of my presence on my fortieth birthday, I am the dinner guest of Tell Us Good Morning, the Head Chief of the Taos Pueblo, and his wife, Pauline, their Main Medicine Woman.

I never forget this.
 
*NOTE  Jimmy and I parted ways before the film completed, but you can hear the music he started writing for it then – in collaboration with Robbie Robertson – on the soundtrack for HBO’s ‘The Native Americans’.
d the spirits thanked. It is also the day when the people see their shadow side. This happens through the behavior of the sacred clowns, who come out of the kivas.

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