My husband, the ichthyologist, whipped out his trusty Freshwater Fishes and did everyone the favor of definitively identifying the fish they had caught, which meant we knew exactly what we were eating at dinner that night.
The kids rode everywhere in the back of an old pick up, bumping along without restraints, and no one worried particularly about safety, not even me.
And at the end of the week, we attended the reservation's annual Pow Wow, and my cousin's husband made sure he got an authentic teepee for us to sleep in during the days and nights of dancing and drumming and swirling costumes and lights and vendors selling all manner of trinkets, every one of which was a fascination to our children.
And now the kids who made our children feel at home, all of them now young men, are here with us. My cousin, a government lawyer and former teacher with an education masters from Harvard (can you tell she impresses me?), and her husband, a social worker with an addiction treatment inpatient facility (he impresses me, too), run a college readiness program in the summer for kids from the rez. The kids spend two weeks with them in Virginia, and they take them to visit colleges, arrange interviews with folks in different careers to expose them to the options, organize test prep classes for them, and they also pray with them each morning, because my cousin, who is really my sister, and her husband are born again. But my cousin doesn't proselytize. She just leads by example and if everyone who was born again did it the way she does, we would surely all be born again. She is a force of love and her boys are growing into the sweetest of men.
My husband put out breakfast of scrambled eggs and sausages and fruit and bagels and cream cheese and juice for everyone. After we ate, I went with my cousin and Aunt Winnie's grandson (who lives with my cousin and family in Virginia), across the courtyard to visit with Aunt Winnie. She was thrilled to see her grandbaby, and he was very sweet to her, although he couldn't understand anything she said. I could see his brain ticking away as she spoke, and I wondered what he was thinking, feeling. This was the woman who raised him till he was seven, because his own mother wasn't able to. He loves her so much, and I could feel his sense of being adrift, because she, his first center of security, was adrift in her memories, unable to communicate them.
That's one of my nephews below, half Jamaican, half Sioux, all American grown boy. He recently got himself a mohawk, which really suits him, I think. He is such a sweetheart, this boy, and I love him dearly. He's a monster on his school's varsity crew team, don't be surprised if you hear his name. But off the water, he's a gentle guitar-playing Bob Marley-loving seventies-inspired soul.
Here are those same boys earlier this month. Still outdoors. A lot taller. Still brothers.
Well, that wraps up the broadcast from our house this Sunday. The Virginia-Montana crew is back on the road in their big white van, headed back to the D.C. area after exploring New York in sunglasses, pretending to be celebs, and interviewing my husband and me about careers in Icythology (my husband) and journalism (me). A wonderful time was had by all, certainly by me. So here's one more then-and-now pairing—there my girl, who's 9 years old here and 17 now, but you know what she looks like.
She's with another one of my beloved nephews, who made sure he turned his cap to just the right angle before I snapped this picture. Peace out, y'all.