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At the End of Warmth and Light, a New Abundance

September nineteenth: Still technically summer, as the colonial calendar reckons such things, and yet the first chill bite of winter is here.

Late yesterday, a bank of clouds began coalescing to the northwest, reaching slowly outward and upward, but never moving in. That changed with the fall of night; by full dark, the moon was shrouded by a thin but persistent veil of clouds, and the night sky was bare of visible stars, its velvet surface pleated and shirred by wide flaring folds of gray.

In the early hours of the morning, the rain began to fall.

It was a gift as unexpected as it was welcome. And while now, in the full light of the new day, the rain has stopped and the blue is beginning to break through, outside it feels as though the earth has finally let go a breath long held, life returned to it by the medicine of falling water.

But as it breathes, the earth shivers, too: The temperature is cold, the wind chill colder still, and it is possible at last to remember what winter feels like.

Now that the clouds are parting to reveal the state of the peaks, it’s clear that much has changed overnight. The southern slope of Spoon Mountain is dressed in green still, but now the forest shades of the evergreens are dappled; the sunlight is at work turning the fading leaves of the deciduous trees into a pale but electric jade. And to the southeast, the mountains there display the first bright gold aspen line of the season, an amber gash that traces almost vertically down the new growth surrounding the old burn scars.

The calendar still calls it summer, and yet winter’s icy breath can be felt upon the wind.

But the rain has offered us a gift, unexpected, unpredicted, and all the more valuable for that. People tend to think of summer as the season that keeps the land alive, and there is truth to that, of course; the monsoons keep the earth breathing, her heart beating, the lifeblood of the First Medicine flowing through her veins even on the hottest days. It is this short and compressed period of intermittent weather that usually ensures a harvest now . . . but of harvest there has been little to none in recent years.

We can no longer afford to measure prosperity by the old patterns and benchmarks.

It would be easy, too, to despair entirely; to see the ravages of aridification, ongoing in real time before our very eyes, as an end game now, to give in to the hopelessness that hangs about the earth’s door hoping to find a home in the hearts of her children.

We shall have to adjust our expectations, of course; revise our hopes and dreams to the realm of the possible in this damaged, ravaged present. But that very adaptation is what will salvage a world for future generations, and it is to that we need to pin those hopes. After all, in this place, winter is the time of true renewal, the snows the very waters of rebirth, and at the end of warmth and light, a new abundance waiting for us to acknowledge and honor it and then put it to the use the future requires and the spirits intend.

Today’s featured work, manifest in the colors of this day — rich damp earth, amber aspens and dark evergreens, all lit by the arc of silver autumn light — is manifest in the shape and spirit of abundance itself, a prospering world ready for us to adapt well enough to appreciate and make use of it. From its description in the relevant section of the Bracelets Gallery here on the site:

A Prospering World Cuff Bracelet

The spirits honor hard work and a life well lived in the old way by answering prayers for a prospering world. Wings evokes one of these spirits of prosperity in silver and stone by way of his own signature style: a hand-split cuff in the coiled shape of Serpent, he who bears good fortune. This version of the snake is the same one who lends his talents to Medicine, a rattler bearing jewels of the earth in rich fertile colors. The band is formed of a single piece of sterling silver, hand-split so that head and tail extend in opposite directions to coil around the wrist. Small hand-stamped points form his eyes; tiny hoops, his snout and heavily layered rattle; lodge symbols adorn the two intermediate ends of the uniquely-styled band. He is that fierce member of his clan, the diamondback, with tiny hand-stamped versions of the pattern alternating  between the gemstones he bears along his back, ten small round bezel-set cabochons of jade and tiger’s eye. Band is 6″ long by 7/16″ across; cabochons are 5/16″ across (dimensions approximate); the band has significant flexibility, but is designed for a smaller wrist (6.5″ or less). Other views shown below.

Sterling silver; jade; tiger’s eye
$1,025 + shipping, handling, and insurance

For some of our peoples, snakes are taboo in any form; for others, they represent medicine of great power. In tis broader region, as in so many other across this continent, the small serpents are associated by for and shape and spirit with their larger, more powerful cousin of so many origin stories, the Water Serpent. It’s a link that can be beneficial, dangerous, neither, or both. Regardless, our peoples, always practical and knowledge-based, have always respected the power of the snake and the inherent risks of engaging it.

For Wings, a snake’s presence means simple prosperity. It’s perhaps due to that association with the Water Serpent, the benefits obvious in a high-desert land where average humidity often hovers around eleven percent. It’s also likely related to less esoteric, eminently practical concerns: In this climate, there are multiple diseases that are carried by rodents, from bubonic plague to hantavirus, tularemia, and valley fever — in other words, by Snake’s own natural prey. The bullsnakes that shared space with us this summer were welcome for that reason alone.

Rattlers, of course, exist at an entirely different point along the scale. Useful, yes; beneficial, yes; a source of medicine (via their rattles), yes; dangerous? Absolutely. And yet there exists power in danger, and in the facing of it, and that is a lesson we are required to learn right now if we and our world are to survive.

There are, according to the colonial calendar, three days of summer remaining. The weather and climatic developments remind us that we are fast nearing the end of its warmth and light. But at that end is the possibility of a new abundance, and like the serpent’s spiraled coil, we need to be ready to embrace it.

~ Aji








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