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All photos today courtesy of Nancy's gardens

All photos today courtesy of Nancy's gardens

People wonder:  “Who is Centria?” 

“Why are you calling yourself Centria?”

“Why aren’t you calling yourself Kathy in your blog?”

Sigh… It’s time to tell the whole story.  The truth and nothing but the truth.  (Except the truth is always a strange thing.  It kind of shifts shape in our memory, doesn’t it?  You think you’re telling the truth, but what you’re often telling is simply the memory of a memory of a memory, which may or may not resemble the actual happening.)

Why is the author of this blog calling herself a strange name like “Centria”?

Black Eyed Susan, methinks

Black Eyed Susan, methinks

It goes back at least ten years ago, to my wild and crazy youth.  (ha, ha, a story already!)  It wasn’t my youth and I wasn’t that wild and crazy.  Umm, was I?

I was camping out in Montana with a tent beneath the stars in a meadow filled with women on a spiritual quest.  We were given an assignment:  choose a name to represent the qualities we were attempting to bring into our lives in the next year.  Everyone was happily getting into the assignment and picking names which symbolized their deepest desires and yearnings. 

Except I was being stubborn again.  Refusing to come up with a name off the top of my head.  Instead, I decided, a name would have to drop out of the Montana skies and announce itself.  The Spirit of the Land or Sky or whatever would have to choose my name.  (Told you it was a wild and crazy youth.)

The trip happened to coincide with my birthday and I had a strange dream in which some dream-character of a voice announced very clearly:  “Your name is Centria.”

When I woke up, almost gasping at the strange synchronicity, I remember thinking:  “That had better not be the name of a car!”

So Centria it was for that retreat.  Everyone wanted to know what it meant, but I could only mumble something like perhaps being centered, the new century, the female version of the trinity.  Everyone was invited to guess as I had no idea.

Friends from that Montana visit would send cards and packages to the house for years after addressed to “Centria.”  The kids would look askance at the letters and at least one child was known to inquire, “Is that suppose to be YOU, Mom?”

Well, Yes.

The inner world of a hibiscus

The inner world of a hibiscus

Years later (when the Centria era was almost, almost, forgotten) I discovered an on-line world of blogging.  And you needed a name to describe you.  So what name popped up from the recesses of the brain?  Of course…Centria.  She could be resurrected.

Because, of course, at that time, I had heard horror stories about writing your full name in Internet Print.  You weren’t suppose to tell your name.  People could track you down and…well, it wasn’t safe.  So we were told.  (And maybe that is still the case.  I don’t know.  But I see lots of people sharing their full names and contact information on blogs everywhere.  And on Facebook my name now stands out in black and white to 100 friends, three quarters of whom I’ve never met.)  The fear of those early days has abated.

Yet the name Centria remains.  When it came time to write this wordpress blog for 365 days of outdoor commitment it seemed more natural than breathing to type in “Centria”.  The name from that dream, all those years ago, before the new century birthed itself. 

So now you have the full story.  You can call me Centria or you can call me Kathy.  (Or Mom, or daughter, to some of you!)  Or “Hey, You!”  Or maybe even the name some of the Ojibway (Anishnabe) around here call me.  But that’s another story.  And it’s just as strange as this one. 

P.S.  Looks like it’s Day 243 of the commitment. Kathy or Centria spent lots of time in the garden, some time with her mother-in-law on the phone while outside and sitting on the deck with Barry in the sprinkles before dinner.

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The Baraga Pow Wow started last night.

Hundreds of folks gathered to listen to the Native American drums, to dance in the arena, to pray, to socialize, to gather together as families, tribes or nations.

Have you ever heard the drum beat and the call of the singers?  If you have, it stays with you forever.  The eerie cry in Ojibway (or whatever language your Pow Wow brings) wakes up something deep inside of us.  Something which has been sleeping, or missing, or gone.  You can hear the drum beat and suddenly you’re carried back to some ancient memory of the land, of another time, of another language which beats deeper than any words or syllables.

The Drum

The Drum

Eyyy-Eee!  The singers shrill and the Manido looks down from the sky and shrills back its eagle cry.  You stand quivering by the Pow Wow arena, wanting to dance, longing to dance, and when the announcer says, “Inter-tribal!” you can enter the arena and your feet hit the soil like the drum beat.  Up and down you pound the drum of the earth, around and around.  If you dare. 

Grand Entry

Grand Entry

I have a long history with the Native Americans, the Anishnabe, here in this area.  ‘Way back in 1987 I heard the drumbeat for the first time, and it awakened slumbering embers within.  Back in 1988, I danced in this arena, feeling the wind in my hair, returning to a Time before my conscious mind was born.  For about seven years I attended ceremonies and lodges with these people.

Every year, now, I return to give thanks to that which has helped me to awaken deeper to who I am.  It’s a time of deep appreciation, gratitude and honor.

It was hard to come this year, with a camera, and take photos.  Very hard.  My native friend, Denise, had to hold my hand and go ask the people permission for me to take a photo.  Don’t know why it was so hard.  Some people believe that when you take a photograph, your spirit can be stolen in that photo.  There’s all sorts of etiquette and protocol involved. I didn’t want to be stealing any spirits, or to be disrespectful in any way.

So Denise took charge.

Cute young dancer

Cute young dancer

It really wasn’t hard.  No one said “no”.  My main source of irritation (don’t really want to go into this right now, but here’s the gist) is that my camera’s zoom has gone kaput.  OH NO!  This may involve the purchase of a new camera, and after buying a laptop computer this week…that’s financially challenging, to say the least.  Thank goodness for the “crop” feature on the computer.  Otherwise, you’d simply be viewing dots on the horizon, which may have barely resembled humans.

Look at her dance!

Look at her dance!

Today it was fun to spend time talking with friends, listening to the drum, watching the people in their multi-colored regalia.  You can eat fry bread or wild rice soup or an Indian Pizza.  (I bought Denise one after she so kindly asked folks to pose for photographs.)

More dancing! Shawl dancing and jingle dresses everywhere.

More dancing! Shawl dancing and jingle dresses everywhere.

There’s more photos to show you (and tomorrow’s outdoor adventure may involve the Pow Wow again) so stay tuned until tomorrow for more pictures.  Hopefully everyone will have the opportunity to attend a Pow Wow at some time.  Stand very silently and let the drum beat mirror the beat of your heart.  Something very precious may awaken with you.

Shhh!  Can you hear the drums now, out the window, down the road?  They’re calling for you…

Strawberry blossom says it all

Strawberry blossom says it all

The Anishnabe (Ojibway) call this June moon “The Strawberry Moon”.  Barry and I debated that today.  Either (a) this month’s name came from Ojibway living a LOT further south or (b) they meant Strawberry Blossom Moon. 

Our white strawberry blossoms smile up in full bloom.  We won’t be munching juicy ripe delectable strawberries until the July moon is thinking about its encore performance.  Doesn’t a quart of fresh organic sweet berries sound fantastic?  Maybe the Anishnabe were dreaming of strawberries and attempted to speed up time with this month’s name.

Flower sale at the Huron Bay Tavern

Flower sale at the Huron Bay Tavern

You might call this month “Planting Flower Month”.  Every year, about the first weekend in June, folks from downstate travel to the Huron Bay Tavern near Skanee (also fondly known as Billy da Finn’s, although I don’t know why) and sell baskets of flowers, tomatoes, and assorted other vegetables.  We always drive over there and find at least $20 worth of flowers and plants to plant.  (This is after we’ve found lots of other local vegetables which we’ve been curing in the sun and taking inside at night for a couple weeks now.)

Here’s the rule.  If you plant your tomatoes and peppers and beans and zucchini before June 10th:  watch out.  Frost might just attack those tender plants.  Barry’s birthday was yesterday and he thinks the date of planting these warmer-weather vegetables and flowers is June 6th.

So guess what we’ve been doing today?  Planting!

Planting the tomatos.  They are a little yellow, but we're hoping they make it.

Planting the tomatos. They are a little yellow, but we're hoping they make it.

Last night we received a little rain shower.  Not a lot, but enough to wet the ground and water the plants.  The dandelion puffballs looked a tad soaked in the morning, almost like they had a little shampoo.

Soggy dandelion puffball

Soggy dandelion puffball

The forest around our house looks leafy and green.  Spiffed up in its summer clothes. 

Green, green...everywhere you look

Green, green...everywhere you look

So we enjoyed a lovely birthday party this evening.  (Barry’s band played a gig last night so the official celebration was postponed until today.) Dinner menu:  tamale pie and green tossed salad.  Very delicious.  Barry didn’t want a cake, but kindly picked some lupines for our table.  He opened cards and packages and I…oops!…forgot to sing him Happy Birthday.  Hmmm, will do that the minute he walks in the door!  Promise!

Birthday lupines in a vase

Birthday lupines in a vase

P.S.  OH MY GOODNESS!  If the quality of these photos is acceptable, I am in seventh heaven tonight.  Gerry of  Torch Lake Views suggested compressing these photos on WordPress to save space.  She said it would also make posts load faster.  You can’t IMAGINE how fast these photos loaded.  Two seconds!  I am so very thrilled by this new possibility.  Thanks, Gerry.

Today I have a special link for you.  If you’re interested in our national bird, the bald eagle, you must click on this link and visit a most amazing site.  It’s a web cam in British Columbia peering into an eagle nest.  Three baby eagles were born this year and the mama and papa come to feed them.  It’s live.  It’s almost more exciting than a movie thriller waiting for those parents to arrive with a dead seagull, or rabbit, or other natural delicacy.  (A live rabbit once actually jumped out of the nest just before becoming dinner for the eaglets.)

People from all over the world tune in daily to this site and watch the eaglets mostly lounging around the nest.  They all spend lots of time sleeping.  I saw the mama feed them today for the first time! Afterward, the mama sometimes just sits and meditates for long periods of time.  At least I think she’s meditating.  She’s just sitting there, content, with her young ‘uns. 

Apparently there was some real excitement a few weeks ago when the eldest eaglet decided to beat up the runt.  No kidding.  People were upset all around the world.  They begged for the mama to return and straighten the children out.  They feared for the runt’s life.  He even quit eating for awhile.  The “reality web cam” viewers started to panic.  They were afraid he might die.  Someone else reminded the folks, “It’s survival of the fittest”.

Here’s the link:  http://www.cbc.ca/bc/features/eaglecam/

I’m warning you, it can be addicting.  So try to limit the time you spend staring mesmerized at the nest.  (Thanks to Carla for providing the link to this!)

So today I had to go look at one of our local eagle nests.  It doesn’t seem like there’s babies up there this year, but  you never know.  You look on the ground for signs like feathers, dead fish parts, bones, nesting material, bird droppings.  And you listen for sounds of chirping or angry mother eagles screaming at you.  None of the above today.  Except maybe for some droppings.  Which I believe usually happens because the juveniles return to the nest to hang out.  At least they have in the past.

If the eagles were nesting, I would have disappeared from there in two seconds flat.  You really don’t want to hang around an occupied nest and disturb the babes or parents.

Here is the nest:

Can you see the eagle's nest way up high?

Can you see the eagle's nest way up high?

Often there are feathers on the ground.  Not really today.  It’s rare to find one in the spring; much more common in the summer and autumn.  I wandered around to about a half dozen other tall pines where the eagles like to hang out while surveying the Huron Bay.  Here’s a small wisp of a feather from a Migisi (the Anishnabe name for the Bald Eagle).

Wisp of an eagle feather

Wisp of an eagle feather lying on ground

It would be nice to show you a photograph of an eagle winging skyward or flapping across the lake preparing to dive for fish.  Alas.  No luck even spotting one today.  For anyone new to this blog, I did spot a bald eagle rising from a tree earlier this year in March.  Will re-post it just so you can view this magnificent creature.

Take two.  The eagle photo re-appears.

Take two. The eagle photo re-appears.

Hope everyone enjoys looking at those eagles on the web cam!  🙂

Magic circle

Magic circle

In the Ojibway(Anishnabe) calendar February’s full moon gets the title “Sucker Moon”.  Or, more accurately, the Sucker Fish Moon.  I’m not sure why, as it’s not until later in the spring when our fishermen head to the rivers to catch sucker for bait. 

Other ancient native names for this beautiful full moon are the Eagle Moon and When the Bear Cubs are Born Moon.  I think I prefer these descriptions, but that’s probably because I don’t understand the relevance of the sucker at this time of year. Here are a few names which might also fit (completely made up as of five minutes ago) :  First Melt Moon, Ice Forming Moon, Dreaming of Spring Moon. 

I tried to take a picture of the awesome moon outside the bathroom window last night.  Results:  white circle in black sky.  Nothing really stunning.  Perhaps the moon shadows against the snow might have been more riveting.  They’re really magical, the deep shadows highlighted by the moonbeams.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t convince myself to go outside at 9 p.m. for a photo shoot.

Today’s skies lie heavy with gray again.  The melt continues.  40 degrees.  The deck is almost completely back to to wood.  I enjoyed the time outside, walking slowly.  Do not, and I repeat, do not step off the trail without snowshoes any more.  You sink in almost up to your waist in spots.  It’s not pretty attempting to pull yourself back to the beaten path.

Melt, continued

Studies in melting

The deer rarely hike up from the cedar swamp to paw beneath our oak tree for scraps at this time of year.  The snow is just too deep.  There’s rarely a chipmunk, or squirrel or rabbit in sight, although occasional tracks pepper the snow.  But birds!  Colonies, flocks, groupings appear everywhere near the feeder, on the roads, twittering in the tree tops.  Mostly chickadee, junco, nuthatches and finches.

Yesterday, I caught a shadow overhead and my heart soared to see a bald eagle winging by.  No matter how many times you see that majestic white head and black wingspan, it’s special.  In the Anishnabe way, when you see an eagle overhead you say “Megwetch.”  That means thank you.  A thank you of the heart and spirit.

I say Megwetch today to that beautiful February Sucker Moon.  May it continue to illuminate all of us as we take the slow meandering journey towards spring.  (Or as we celebrate the depths of winter!)

Studies in melting, continued

Melting, continued

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