Old-Timey Skills

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The Power of the Powwow Dance

rag-rug

Many, many years ago when my mother was an impressionable young woman (as I am now…..not young, but impressionable), she attended a Native American Powwow. Entranced by the drumming, singing and dancing, she unconsciously moved her feet to the rhythm of the tribe’s women as they moved slowly in a circle around the huge fire. When the song ended and another began, one of the men came up behind her and said, “You may dance, now.” I do not remember if she accepted that permission, but the scene stayed with her throughout her life and she shared the joy of it with her daughters and grand-daughter in a unique and practical way.

Those of us who have made or are familiar with crocheted rag rugs know that some rugs have a built- in desire to curl or bunch up when they have been laundered. It is a dangerous aggravation (if not resolved) but here I offer you a solution that is fun for all.

After washing, do not allow the rug to dry thoroughly. Leave it slightly damp and place the rug on a flat surface…such as a basement or tiled kitchen floor. Leave plenty of room around the rug for Mother’s Powwow-inspired activity.

Gather the children and show them how to dance the Powwow Dance on the rug…….facing in toward the center, slowly moving one foot to the side and bringing the other foot over to meet it, in a slow and deliberate procession around the edges that insist on curling and across the parts that want to rise up. Make this a special “helping” time while also singing some made-up song with a good rhythm for this movement. The children will have fun trying to dance as gracefully as a Native American and the rug will be stomped down. Left to dry in place it then can be moved and should be nice and flat.

If there are no children to assist (and no one around to critique your style) you can do the dance by yourself, enjoying the movement and getting as carried away as you please with any chanting song you can imagine.

And if you are fortunate to have a modern day Powwow occur near your hometown, don’t hesitate to attend. You will be treated to a visual and auditory feast and come away with some new chants to sing while pressing unruly rag rugs in to submission.

Rosalie Clarke is a retired RN, former adventure traveler, and co-author of the book “Sharing Scones and More.” She currently lives in Oregon with her shelter-rescue dog, Mya, and several cats of various ages, shapes and sizes. She can be reached at cuzcoperu@charter.net.

The Blue Enamel Bowl

Once upon a time in a little log cabin without running water or electricity sitting in the forest of northern Minnesota there lived a big enameled metal bowl the color of a robin’s egg. It was a beautiful bowl and its black haired mistress loved it very much because it was so much help in the kitchen. It had a lot of jobs but there were three that it liked the best. One was to stay just the right temperature to help the yeast dough rise for the bread. It was proud to be a part of making the crusty brown loaves. Another important job was to hold the beans as they baked in the oven of the wood burning stove. The molasses sometimes boiled up and ran down the outside. Then the bowl would smile to itself because it knew when the mistress opened the oven door she would say……”Oh, how beautiful is the dark brown molasses against the blue enamel.” The bowl always enjoyed giving her something wonderful to see.

The bowl helped with many other chores, like making cottage cheese from the goat’s milk or keeping still when the mistress squeezed it against her side and vigorously stirred the batter for the chocolate birthday cakes……..But the one it liked the best was the Snow Ice Cream. In the north woods of Minnesota the snow is very deep and the winters very cold. Whenever the bowl was placed outside in the snow bank it knew that it was going to help make a treat. The mistress carefully scooped the clean snow into the cold bowl and then folded in the condensed milk…very carefully, a little by little until the ice cream was just right. Then the bowl had another reason to smile because of the happy faces and it knew the family would love and cherish it, always.

And they did.

Rosalie Clarke is a retired RN, former adventure traveler, and co-author of the book “Sharing Scones and More.” She currently lives in Oregon with her shelter-rescue dog, Mya, and several cats of various ages, shapes and sizes. She can be reached at cuzcoperu@charter.net.