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Gentle Winds
by Sharmagne Leland-St.John
November 4, 2000

The wind sang old songs. The leaves and branches of the black walnut trees
quivered, ever so slightly, as they listened in silence.
"I have been dreaming of the ranch all day," she said, as he stood, gazing
out the window.
He turned to her and said, "Yes, I know now I have no Cherokee blood, only
the merest trickle of Tsalagi."
Yet, a trickle of Tsalagi is still Cherokee blood, she thought, pulling her
shawl closer around her thin shoulders. But, she said nothing.
"You must be beautiful when you're dreaming," he said, as he searched her
face. "I can easily imagine that.."
She sat quietly in the burgundy, Queen Anne chair, wrapped in her red and
blue peyote shawl with her moccasined feet tucked under her.
She closed her eyes for a moment and said, "In my minds eye I'm loading my
easel and my paints into the truck, and I'm driving through Onyx and Cottage
Grove. Country Western and Native American music wafts out onto a gentle
breeze through the sun roof." As she said this, the sound of Walela, singing
'Amazing Grace' in Tsalagi, welled up in her ears and in her heart.
"Ummmm, lovely picture," he said, not even imagining where her thoughts had
taken her.
"You can almost see the quarter notes and the eighth notes hanging on the air
and catching in the tangle of cottonwood trees along the roadside above the
singing river," she continued.
He smiled and asked, "What is the smell?"
Not missing a beat, she answered, "Ceremonial sage," thinking he meant the
scent inside the truck. He couldn't have known she always burned sage in an
abalone shell on the dashboard before starting off on long journeys.
"I thought pine, but then, you mentioned cottonwood. Ohhhh.... Sage... Yes,"
he murmured. "And the cemetery?"
"Yes, I would stop to visit the small cemetery at Cottage Grove as I always
do. I would plant sprigs of rosemary on the tiny graves and try to puzzle why
there are so many babies named Powers, buried there all in a row, but no
adults with that family name...from the turn of the last century... all those
babies. Babies sleeping side by side. Sisters and brothers sleeping side by
side. Some died even before their siblings were born. Or cousins maybe. Some
knew each other only in death. Never in life. Yes, I would plant sprigs of
rosemary for remembrance."
"Strange," he interjected.
"Yes, well, life is strange, and we are all strangers to each other," she
said, rising to go up the 2 flights of stairs to the kitchen to brew a cup of
Cherokee Winter Tea.

The recipe for this flavourful and aromatic tea:

To one gallon of rain water add:

10 whole cardamon seeds
10 whole black pepper corns
10 whole cloves
  2 sticks of cinnamon
  2 bay laurel leaves

Boil for 20 minutes. 
Add a few drops of pure maple syrup to each cup for sweetener.

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