Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Storm Juno and Wamps Rolling in the Snow

Juno the name of the storm?
Yeah.
Yeah, what?
The storm's called Juno.
I don't know, I was asking if You know?
Yes, I know; it's called... Juno.
No, I don't know...

Demonstrate my Wamp snow rolling technique
Today, we got hit hard! We must be at 24 inches and it's still coming down. I love a snow day, especially one that becomes 2 -3 snow days at once. I particularly love a snow day where we don't lose power, which almost always happens with a Cape Cod blizzard or storm, as NSTAR believes it's better to have above ground wiring and spend the money on crews and overtime rather than bury the cables, which would probably pay for themselves after the next three storms, but I digress.

Juno is one of those compacted snow storms. This afternoon my son had shoveled the porch. A couple of hours later and it looked like no shovel had ever seen the porch. "This is not good snow to make snow angels in," my fiancee Kim said, once inside the house, "I tried. Didn't work too well." I decided to go back out and dig out my truck just incase I had to go someplace ion the night or early morning. Even if the snow keeps falling, at least I'll have the heavy, wet stuff up and will just need to shove the other stuff.

I was in 4th Grade during the blizzard of 1978, where my friends and I spent days building endless snow tunnels and a couple of igloos around Section One and Three of Co-op City. We even made a few bucks helping people dig their snow-bound cars out. Somebody's father helped us clear a bit of
School was already cancelled, so I let him wear clothes
the hill near the basketball courts next to Building one so that we could sled. In the winter, the maintenance folks would flood the ball court so that it would be an ice rink in the winter. We used to love sledding down the hill next to it, as our sleds would have a bit of a jump at the end, and we would glide across the ball court into the snow bank on the other side.

Out and playing in the snow today with the family, reminded me of an experience about 20 years ago when I worked as a Teaching Artist. As a TA, I would make presentations or hold workshops and residencies at schools around New England and New York City. Most of my presentations were storytelling for elementary and middle schools. As a young man, I did not have the tolerance for stupid things that school teachers might say that I do now. It troubled me that so many young minds were being molded and shaped by ignorant bigots in positions of authority, a reflection on many of my own experiences as a student where I realize that my 3-8th grade social studies lessons were pretty invalid. Again, I digress.

Wamp women roll in the snow too
After making a presentation of some 'authentic' Wampanoag stories to an enthusiastic 4th grade class (some of these stories can be found in my book, A Mixed Medicine Bag: Original Black Wampanoag Folklore). The teacher asked me if I was related to the Russell Peters who wrote the book about the Mashpee Wampanoag. "Yes. He's my uncle." She went on to ask if it were true that Wampanoag father's roll their children in the snow naked to toughen our skins. Without missing a beat I replied, "Yes and if the boys couldn't feel the ground, it meant we wouldn't have school that day." The students thought that was really cool. Watching the teacher's face, I could see that it took her a minute to process what I'd just said. She gave me a look of disbelief and I just smiled and winked at her. She was referencing one of the stories that the late Chief Sly Fox (Vernon Pocknett, Sr.) of the Mashpee Wampanoag used to tell of his own, personal childhood and somehow ascribed this to the entire tribe. So much for reading comprehension. Chief Sly Fox, or 'Uncle Vern'n" created and led a survival camp for the young boys of the tribe back in the 1970's and early '80s. Some of the activities I had the fond experience of participating in; to this day I know how to identify a myriad of edible plants, berries, roots, insects (haven't tried one... in many years... don't judge me...). I know how to make a shelter out of branches and bark, and keep a fire going in the rain. Granted I was in New York during the winter, but I don't recall that as one of the camp activities, even in the winter.

Yes, it's a snow day in Mashpee and I'm going to miss my lunch bunch with the Indian Education kids  and jamming with the jazz band at Quashnet Elementary School tomorrow, but there is also something nice about looking out your window at the absolute beauty of the snow and winter and saying to yourself, "I'm not going out there."

1 comment:

Cashandthensome Cashandthensome said...

Good read. Now you got me reading your other posts. Philip Cash