Pohaha, an English foundling raised by the Pueblo people, is teaching Ruby to speak Uto-Aztecan. The amazingly adventurous Pohaha is wintering here with us, temporarily interrupting her spiritual pilgrimage around the world on foot, in motorized canoe, and on penny-farthing bicycle.
The unexpected ice storm and severe weather we have been experiencing on our Eastern coastal region threw a monkey wrench into her plans for the winter leg of her journey. Though I offered her a comfortable sofa during her stay with us, she insisted upon arranging her modest bedroll and rucksack amongst the potted cactii- saying it reminded her of her home in the wild and that she liked seeing the starry sky through the window glass at night.
Well perhaps you dear readers are already aware of certain character traits of our little Ruby. Among them is a general indifference to authority and a pronounced degree of willfulness. So imagine my surprise at Ruby's reaction to the arrival of the raven-haired Pohaha.
Pohaha grew up fiercely independent - hunting, camping, and traveling distant lands even as a small child, completely unaccompanied. She makes her own clothing and gear from the materials at hand and has expert wilderness survival skills. All this experience has given her wisdom, tolerance, and a general aura of enlightenment. In Pohaha, Ruby has found her hero and seems utterly transfixed by her.
Ruby immediately began following pohaha everywhere. She begged Pohaha to show her wildcrafting skills. She tried to get Pohaha to show her first how to make a long bow and arrows from natural materials found in the woods near the house here. It did my heart good to see Ruby take an interest in creative handcrafts. But Pohaha insists that Ruby learn to converse a little in the native Uto-Aztecan language and become more familiar with natural lore before dabbling in weaponry. Being completely in awe of the wildly self-sufficient Pohaha, Ruby is eagerly following direction for a change.
Pohaha patiently taught Ruby about growing food- how corn is planted, ground, stored, and used to prepare meals. They made corn pone.
They sat in Pohaha's canoe during late afternoons while Ruby avidly absorbed Pohaha's tales of fishing and hunting trips on the wild plains, in forests, and on great rivers.
Ruby's imagination ran wild.
She had vivid dreams in which she was mistress of the windswept wilderness.
Pohaha not only taught Ruby a bit of her native language (Ruby knows a little German already, and has an aptitude for language), but she also taught Ruby about the spiritual beliefs of her people- sacred songs and games, the spirit worlds, animal dances, offerings to the Dead. Ruby was a devoted pupil.
I'm happy to say that the two have become fast friends. Ruby has not dared try any of her usual 'tricks' on Pohaha. I believe that they each fill a need for the other. I suspect Pohaha enjoys her big sister/mentor role to Ruby in a brief respite from her solitary quest, and I feel Ruby looks up to Pohaha as a strong fearless female who is in control of her destiny and environment yet still chooses to take under her wing one younger and less worldly than herself. I hope that Pohaha can stay with us for an extended time. She is such a good influence on Ruby!
Perhaps we have all judged Ruby a little too hastily. I am as guilty as the rest. When I see these two girls together, I see a side of Ruby that is less often revealed- not dark, brooding, and scheming, but bright, eager, and kind. It gives me hope.
I just know she has it in her to be good.
Read Ruby's BLOG and leave your comments or questions.