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RAINBOW'S END Part 2 of 4 Parts

By beanerywriters(11,675)

This is the second of a four-part serial weaving the story of a Lenape Indian with Mountain Laurel, a plant that blankets Southwestern Pennsylvania with pale pink blossoms in the early summer.

NOTE: Mountain-Laurel is hyphenated to indicate it’s biologic classification as a member of the heath rather than the laurel family.

     He was again drawn to the shrub as a six-year old when he spotted Warm Pipe carving a soft, green stem into a finely shaped pipe. Rushing Waters sat at Warm Pipe’s side for several hours before being handed a carving tool and piece of wood. Rolling the stem about in his fingers, he saw it with new eyes before tentatively setting the tool to it. His childish woodcuts produced a rough-cut but usable pipe that demonstrated a natural skill in carving. Under Warm Pipe’s tutelage Rushing Waters learned where the stem’s gnarled trunks provided the best curves for spoons, ladles and tools. Soon his pipes and other carvings rivaled those of Warm Pipe’s in popularity.

     As a twelve year old Rushing Waters achieved his manhood. While alone in the wilderness he battled fierce winds and teeming rains for two days. Water filled the stream that would be named Washington Furnace Run in the future, overrunning its Mountain-Laurel covered banks. His adult name came from this experience.  

     Rushing Waters stirred his brew, again studying its floating leaves. He’d recently carved the spoon he used from a young Mountain-Laurel branch, remembering while the wood chips flew that the shrub was nicknamed Spoonwood.

     He released his stiff fingers from his cup and set it down beside him. After massaging his aching joints he picked up his favorite pipe, the one he’d carved while awaiting the birth of his first son. Tears fell on the aged wood as his mind was flooded with memories of the epidemic that had taken his family from him.

     His Lenape family lived on the upper Susquehanna after the white man, migrating west, uprooted their tribe from Delaware Valley home. Frequently other displaced Native American tribes moved to the area. Crowded conditions bred rampant diseases that stole lives. Conditions were drastic, and hopelessness fed widespread alcoholism.

     The effects of the white man’s trickery made things worse. Sadness added to the pain of Rushing Waters aching body as he recalled how they had over-claimed Lenape lands.

     In 1686 his ancestors agreed to cede to Pennsylvania as much land west of their tribal nation as a man could walk in thirty-six hours---about forty miles. In 1737 Pennsylvania officials hired three men to run the distance, enabling them to claim twice the land as was expected. Feeling cheated, the Lenapes asked the Iroquois to defend their interests. But the Iroquois, who’d controlled the Lenapes for many years, were enraged the land was ceded without their permission. They told the Lenapes to “give up your claims and move west.” Small bands of Rushing Waters people did just that. But he wouldn’t leave the only home he’d ever known, the place of his birth and the place where he’d met his wife who birthed their two sons and a daughter.

      He recalled the 1728 June day in his seventeenth spring that his childhood friend officially became his wife. He’d given her several stems of bloom-filled Mountain-Laurel, which she shyly accepted, and every year they celebrated their union by enjoying the plant’s beauty.

Part 3 of RAINBOW’S END will be posted on Friday  evening. Meanwhile, to read about kudzu A KUDZU COVERED VEHICLE GRAVEYARD , the unicorn THE UNICORN: MYTH OR REALITY?  and a blue butterfly, STAR GAZER LILIES and a BLUE BUTTERFLY. Just click on the titles.

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Posted to ProBlogs.com on Monday, January 01, 2007
View other posts by beanerywriters

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RAINBOW'S END Part 3 of 4 Parts
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