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BellaOnline Literary Review
Snowy Bluebird by Carol Dandrade

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Mountain Story

Carol Harada

There was only one way to meet him, through wandering. My horse led me to that particular village to rest. An old woman had heard of me and led me to the weaver’s hut, close to the best stream-fed grasses for making his snow capes, sandals and hats.

He was unfailing in his respect, making a space for me to rest in the corner, a pallet out of extra straw. We made a stew together, me offering some of my berries that are good for the blood. Wishing for a daughter to ask me one day about how I met her father, I kept the answer with me for years. Our first meal together, I knew I loved him.

It was his skillful hands -- never hurried, so intelligent in the way they touched and were touched by his drying grasses. He cooked too, with those handmade spoons oiled to a fine glow by his human touch, in a way that held a great intimacy with his world. A delight.

I arrived in the spring and never left. That is, we had a village wedding very soon, and rather than gossiping about my forwardness, the villagers were glad to have a medicine woman in their midst. I settled in to meet the new plants, riding out on my horse every day while my husband did his very local gathering, drying, and weaving. He prepared for the long rains season, went around to villagers to assess their capes and hats and sandals, and to visit. When he was in the busy time, people knew to visit him at his place by the stream.

Often the villagers would say, “I just saw your weaver,” as I did my rounds. Unless there was a baby coming or a person dying, we spent every evening together. He liked to hear my stories about my plants, shocked that some of his old friends had these other lives as healing substances. Or he would tell me of the forecast indicated by his plants, or the songbirds’ early or late arrivals. Sometimes we’d invite our neighbors over for a feast, to which everyone was happy to bring their best pickled vegetables or preserved plum or special rice wine. Some brought their musical instruments. And I occasionally sang my not-secret herbal apothecary songs.

He was training me to snowshoe in the mud, for it would be much easier in the snow, having built up those muscles. Now I put them on every time I went out to the night soil fields. Around the time of learning to walk in this way, I had to learn all over again as my girth started to show. His hands knew before mine, one night as he gripped me by the hips. I dreamt I heard my pelvis widen as lightning cracked open a gap in my pubis. The lightning said something wonderful and terrible is coming. More life.