Saturday, March 19, 2011
In the ravine Menepahta stood to her feet. Her whole body felt stiff and chilled to the bone. With only filtered moonlight to guide her, she walked through the shadows of the deep creek bed in search of wood for a fire. A short time later she found what she was looking for. The rotten log was about a foot in diameter and it crumbled easily in her hands. The outer bark was wet but by digging inside she found it to have a dry powdery inner consistency, perfect for starting a fire. She rolled the entire log over to her cave and in a few moments she had scooped out a nice pile of soft tinder. Walking in a crouch through the creek, she gathered an armload of limbs about the thickness of her finger and smaller. She laid these next to the tinder. Getting on her knees she crawled inside the cave and positioned herself beside the pile of wood. Reaching her hand into the leather pouch at her waist, she took out her fire starter. This consisted of dried pine needles and cotton fibers, a charred cloth, a flint stone, and small piece of steel. With trembling fingers, Menepahta pulled at the cotton fibers and mixed it with the needles until she had formed a small object resembling a bird’s nest. Into the nest she placed the tiny charred cloth. Setting the nest on the ground, she took the flint and steel in her hands, and holding them close to the char cloth, she scraped the flint against the steel as sharply as her shaking hands would allow. Sparks flew and landed on the cloth, which started smoking. She quickly grabbed the nest and holding it in her hands she blew gently on the smoking char. A tiny flame flared up and began spreading through the cotton nest. Setting her flaming bundle on the ground, she quickly began covering it with the dry powdery tinder from the log. Above this she fashioned a teepee with the pile of twigs. A few moments later she watched as flames from the fire flickered higher and higher, illuminating the interior of her small shelter. She ventured out again and found larger limbs which would make nice hot coals. Back in the cave she sat down and stretched out her hands and feet toward the fire. She was glad that the cave contained most of the smoke from the fire. This would make it more difficult for her pursuers to find her. As her feet warmed and she painfully felt feeling return to them, she said a silent prayer of thanksgiving to the Great Spirit. He who gives fire and brings warmth to the earth was worthy of her devotion. As the heat from the fire chased the chills from her body, Menepahta stared into the flames and thought of Jacob. She closed her eyes and tasted the salty tears of her soul that rolled onto her lips.