On a warm, sunny April day, a young Native American girl walked along a deer path through the prairie. She relished the feel of the warm, dry grass crunching under her bare feet. She had been out searching for firewood, but made a detour to see if there were any turtles out by the pond. It's sometimes hard to keep your mind on chores when you have spring fever.
The girl followed the deer path to a stand of poplar trees—a good place to find fallen branches. She quickly gathered a bundle of sticks, cradling them in her arms to carry back across the open grass. Mother will be pleased that she is so prompt in doing her chores, she thinks. Maybe there will be some extra time in the day for more exploring.
As she walked, an unwieldy branch worked loose from her grasp, scraping against her bare neck. She struggled to hold her bundle steady in one hand while moving the wayward stick away from her neck, but it was caught under her necklace. She set her bundle down to gently disentangle the culprit, being careful not to harm the beautiful strand of beads. Running her fingers over them, she gave a sigh of relief to find them still intact.
This special necklace was given to the girl by her mother. Her mother, in turn, had received them from her own mother before. Since the elder woman's passing last year, the girl had treasured those old red beads even more, feeling Grandmother close to her when she wore them.
On her way back to the lodge, the girl caught a glimpse of some bright color in the brown grass. Stopping in her tracks, she gazed down at a group of pretty little Pasque flowers. Reminiscing on their lovely fragrance, she bent down to bury her nose in them, holding her fire bundle tightly. Eyes closed in a moment of bliss, she rose again and stood motionless, savoring this perfect spring moment.
The sound of her mother's call snapped the girl out of her reverie. She spun around and quickly made her way to the house, excited to tell her mother about the Pasque flowers. She imagined Mother would want to see these, the first prairie flowers of spring.
Later that evening, as the girl readied herself for bed, Mother noticed that the necklace was missing. Where is Grandmother's necklace? she asked.
Surprised, the girl reached to check. Oh Mother, I've lost it! she said, her voice rising in panic. Grandmother would be so sad. No, Mother reassured, your grandmother knows you can't have lost it, only misplaced it. In the morning, you can go and find it. The girl tried to sleep, but her mind was racing, frantically trying to retrace her tracks. Next morning, as soon as there way light, she scooted back towards the stand of poplar trees. She recognized the spot where she had set down her wood to liberate her beads from a branch. She spotted a couple of missed sticks still lying on the ground, so she knew this must be the place the necklace had disappeared. But the necklace was nowhere to be found. To make matters worse, rain started to fall, but the girl continued to search the spot, squinting through water droplets and tears.
After what seemed like hours, the disheartened girl—now soaking wet and chilled to the bone—sadly turned towards home. She passed the little Pasque flowers, giving them a sorrowful glance, then raised her eyebrows in astonishment. There among the blossoms lay her red strand of beads. A warm rush of happiness rose to her cheeks, making her sopping, somber countenance turn bright as a sunny spring day. Thank you, Grandmother, she whispered, for showing me the way. I will always think of you when the pretty Pasque flowers bloom.
Years from now the girl will pass the red beads on to her own granddaughter, and share with her the story of the first prairie flowers of spring.
All art ©2013 Organic Valley