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Friday Feature: A Song Upon a Spring Wind, a Beat for a Small Spirit’s Heart

Small Traditional Pueblo Drum Resized

It’s a beautiful, perfect spring day: warm, bright, all blue skies and golden light and gentle breezes.

It was a fitting day to bid farewell, for now, to a small gentle spirit, too — one of our dogs, She-Wolf, walked on this morning. We knew this day would come, and sooner rather than later, but when the time is here, it’s always difficult. All the more so when the being in question is a near-perfect exemplar of pure joy, and equally pure love. Hers turned out to be the strongest of hearts, unwilling to sever her physical connection to us as long as the slightest hope remained, but eventually, her body needed to rest.

Yes, it’s been a hard day, too.

For the month of April, we have been devoting this particular space to another sort of body housing another sort of heartbeat: traditional drums, those that give voice to the heartbeat of the earth itself. I tend to schedule specific works to coordinate with the other themes of the week, to the extent possible, and last week, I had to decide to decide between the full-sized Pueblo drum and this smaller version. Given last week’s elemental sub-themes of wind and storm, I chose to feature the larger, more powerful version . . . and it was a conscious decision, not merely a coin toss.

On this day, that decision seems not only fitting but almost prophetic, leaving as it did the smaller traditional version to accompany the story of a smaller and equally traditional spirit, this abandoned rez dog who found us more than a decade ago and made us her own: a drum to give voice to her heartbeat now that her own heart beats only in the spirit world. From its description in the Other Artists:  Drums gallery here on the site:

Taos Pueblo master drum maker Lee Lujan gives voice to the earth’s own heartbeat with this small traditional Pueblo drum. Made in the old way, it’s summoned from a single unbroken length of cottonwood trunk, whole and complete with no fitted pieces. each side is covered with rawhide, tanned, stretched, and dried in the old way, the two covers laced together by hand with lengths of heavy sinew. The excess lace is used to fashion a pair of traditional handles, one at either side, top and bottom, and a small loop to hold the beater. The beater itself is made from a slender branch, stripped of bark and chosen for balance, one end padded, covered in soft white deerhide, and laced securely together. Drum stands 15.25″ high by 10″ across at its widest point.

Cottonwood; rawhide; sinew; deerhide
$210 + shipping, handling, and insurance
Note: Size and weight require special handling; extra shipping charges apply

It is ironic, or perhaps only apt, that this work should manifest in a form as natural as our sweet girl herself, and in similar colors, too. In life, her own robes were these same warm, earthy, woodsy shades, all browns and golds touched here and there with bits of black and gray and white. Her bark was as deep and resonant, too, strong, sure, the voice of a spirit as fiercely protective as she was openly affectionate.

It’s also appropriate that she should have made an appearance in this space as recently as last week: She and her brother Raven closed out that edition of Red Willow Spirit in an image from better, happier days, at play in blue skies and warm spring winds. I think it’s fitting to close this feature of today’s work with the same joyous image, in tribute: a song upon a spring wind, a beat for a small spirit’s heart.

She-Wolf and Raven In the Wind Resized

~ Aji










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