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Oct 28, 2008

Jaxon's Walking-out Ceremony

The little fellow on the right, in the picture above, is my grand-nephew, Jaxon. He lives in the Cree village of Wemindji, on the eastern shore of James Bay, in northern Quebec. Jaxon is nearly 18 months old and a couple of months ago he participated in his village's walking-out ceremony. He was dressed as a goose-hunter for his part in the festivities and, judging by the photographs, looked quite dashing, I must say.
Jaxon's grandfather (my younger sister's husband) was a full-blooded Cree, which made Jaxon's father a half-blooded Cree. Jaxon's mum is white, therefore Jaxon is a quarter-blood Cree. The thinning of the blood notwithstanding, Jaxon, so far, is a full participant in his native canadian heritage. Part of the traditional Cree native culture celebrates the early coming of age of infants who are old enough to walk. A symbolic ceremony marks the expectation of what will be the productive behaviour of every growing individual, the embracing of the collective objective of work, and the resultant worth of every person in Cree Society.
The walking-out ceremony sees the children dressed in traditional native clothing and equipped with toy versions of the tools used by Cree hunters - guns and knives for the boys, and scraping instruments, bannock sticks and firewood for the girls. The elders of the community send the children from a ceremonial tent to parade themselves, and the decorated animal facsimiles they have 'hunted', before other members of the village. Sometimes the boys are assisted to fire a rifle into the air. The children return to the elders and present their catches, for which they receive approving hugs and kisses. The ceremony is normally held in the morning, with the ceremonial tent facing the east and the morning sun - a constant symbol of optimism and hope for the future. After the ceremony, refreshments, story-telling and lots of laughs are enjoyed by all.
Below is a picture of Jaxon and his friends sitting on a woodpile and posing for photographs. Many thanks to my sister, Denise, for sharing these adorable photos with the rest of our family.
Please comment if you wish. BtheB

Oct 22, 2008

Focussing on a barn

The photograph above is of the barn at Cold Creek Forest & Wildlife Area on the 11th Concession of King Township. It's a pretty static shot with no particular focus point, but it's texture and colours and content stir within me powerful memories of my grandfather's farm and the times I spent there as a child. As I stare at this photograph, which is currently the wallpaper on my computer screen, I decompress, relax, and slip into a few timeless moments. It's as though the stone, mortar and wood in the image are drawing me in to a virtual reality where the simplicity, innocence and safety of my childhood embraces me once again. In other words, I really feel good when I look at this picture. I thought I'd share it. I hope you get a good feeling too.

Oct 13, 2008

Ogden Nash on birds...

The song of canaries
Never varies,
And when they're moulting
They're quite revolting.
The ostrich roams the broad Sahara.
It's mouth is wide, its neck is narra.
It has such long and lofty legs.
I'm glad it sits to lay its eggs.
A wonderful bird is the pelican!
His bill holds more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week
But I'm darned if I know how the helican.
The grackle's voice is less than mellow,
his heart is black, his eye is yellow.
He bullies more attractive birds
With hoodlum deeds and vulgar words,
And should a human interfere,
Attacks the human in the rear.
One cannot help but deem the grackle
An ornithological debacle.
...and one by Nash wannabee, Jack Prelutsky:
Do not approach an emu.
The bird does not esteem you.
It wields a quick and wicked kick
That's guaranteed to cream you.

Oct 4, 2008

Family Photo at Kettleby Fair

Each fall, the historic King Township village of Kettleby celebrates its heritage with a main street fair. One the settler families of Kettleby was the Shanks, who were ancestors of my wife Linda. It seemed only proper therefore that Linda and I, and our kids and grandkids, have our picture taken while enjoying last month's Kettleby fair.