I knew something like this was bound to happen when I came back to the ranch. The funny thing is, that it happened before I got back here. What? Yes. I’ll try to explain. Thank goodness I just had that conversation about time travel and being a time machine with Stephen Hawking, because what happened here last night actually happened months ago, and also thousands of years ago, and that almost makes sense to me now (almost). Oh dear, Blog, I do not mean to be cryptic. Let me begin at the beginning. I have been to Canada, on a journey through the past. And I’ll never be the same.
It all caught up with me yesterday. Right smack dab in the middle of the afternoon, I was out like a light, absolutely unplugged, knocked out from all the work that has been going on here the last couple of weeks. My team has been working around the clock to get me up and running, it has been crazy. And fun! Of course I love all the attention, and getting closer to my goals. But I guess I was so wired from all the excitement that I was finally too far gone. I dropped off to dreamland as soon as the afternoon sun creeping in through the open garage door hit my hood ornament. It was that warm mid-afternoon California sun you get here in early May, the kind of sun that sneaks up on you and then reaches right inside you and holds you in its arms like a baby.
When I woke up, I heard the crickets. It was dark. The middle of the night ? I was confused. Then I realized that I had dozed off in the afternoon. The garage door was still open, which was unusual. That is never open once the sun goes down. I looked over at Pearl, she was asleep. I noticed she had found our old Backgammon board, and laid it out. I felt a pang of nostalgia, and love for her. We have been friends for so long, she knows me so well. (If you’re wondering how two cars play Backgammon, you’re going to just have to use your imagination. Because that’s how we do it. And anyway, you don’t have to know everything about us. I just mentioned it because it moved me so.)
Anyway. I looked back out through the garage door. Should I? I couldn’t resist. I rolled myself out of the garage, knowing that I didn’t have to worry about waking Pearl because she is such a sound sleeper and anyway, I am quiet, like a ghost. I was on my way, my first roll around the ranch alone in a very long time.
The first place I wanted to go, now that I was back here, was, well, you know where. The tree where I first saw them, the place where I first learned about my mission. I drove there first, giddy to be on these familiar roads of home, and instantly regretting that I hadn’t woken Pearl to come with me and share this special moment. But when I got to the tree, I knew it was right that I had come alone. There they were! John Lame Deer leaned against the tree, carving something small in his hand. The Lady of The White Buffalo sat cross legged on the ground, her back against the same tree, the baby white buffalo’s head in her lap. Medicine Wheel! I hadn’t seen him in so long, I had missed having him asleep on my back seat at night, he hadn’t been with me for some time. I had wondered if he’d show up when I was back here. And The Hitchhiker, standing apart from the rest, just a little bit, reading some kind of book. He was the first to see me coming up the hill, and straightened up as I approached, shoving the book into his pocket. I was surprised to see The Hitchhiker, but then again, not really. It’s hard to surprise me anymore with all that has happened. By the time I had them all in full view of my headlights, they were all standing, and facing me. The Lady of The White Buffalo smiled.
“Welcome home, LV,” she said, in her lyrical voice.
“Thank you,” I said. “I was … wondering if I’d find you here.”
They smiled at each other, but said nothing. I thought they looked … serious. Not that they ever look like they aren’t about to unfold the secrets of the world to me, but this seemed different. Ominous.
“It’s time,” was all John Lame Deer said, and he came and rested his hand on my hood.
HIT THE ROAD
The Hitchhiker swung into the driver’s seat. John Lame Deer walked around to my passenger door and held it open for The Lady, helping her to settle into the back with Medicine Wheel, his beautiful woven Native American blanket wrapped around him, in her lap. John Lame Deer slowly climbed into the passenger seat, shut the door, and we were off. I wondered where we were going, but I knew not to ask. All would be revealed to me in time, I thought to myself. I saw them smile at each other again. I remembered that they could read my thoughts and smiled to myself. We drove on in complete silence. When we hit the gate we headed north, and I had an instinct.
“Canada.” I guess I said it out loud.
The Hitchhiker and John Lame Deer exchanged a glance but said nothing. The Lady of the White Buffalo patted the seat next to her and I looked in the rearview mirror. She nodded her head up and down as if to say “yes” and winked.
What a trip! Road trips are always fun, but this one was absolutely epic. The sense of adventure inside me was palpable. By the time we got to Canada, we had tired ourselves out from talking, and laughing. We rode in silence for a while longer. I wondered where we were headed.
John Lame Deer started to tell me.
“LV, you are headed to Canada, on a journey through the past.”
That was it? That was all he was going to tell me?
The Lady of the White Buffalo explained more.
“LV, you are going back to the beginning of …. Well, sort of the beginning of time, really. You are going to learn some very important things about the aboriginal people of Canada, because of course that is where Neil is from.” The hitchhiker put his window down. We all turned to look at him for a moment but he ignored us, staring out the window with his long black hair blowing all into his face. The Lady went on. “You will visit four of the first nations there. You will learn what they are about. About their connection to the earth. You will receive great and important gifts from each of them, gifts that you need in order to be successful as you end your metamorphosis, and begin your journey now, for real.”
We were well over the border now, and we rolled to a stop in front of a magnificent looking forest. Everyone got out, I thought to stretch their legs. But no, they were waving me on.
“Wait, no, no, no, I’m not going into that forest alone,” I said.
“You must, LV” The Lady of The White Buffalo said. Quickly she added, seeing that I was about to fly into a panic, “It’s alright, LV. It’s alright. Don’t be afraid. Someone is waiting for you in there. You are to drive on the path until you meet the great Thunderbird, who lives in this sacred place. The Thunderbird dwells in regal solitude inside this mystic cedar forest, where no man may enter. We are not allowed to go with you, or of course we would. The Thunderbird will be your guide now.”
I looked around. John Lame Deer nodded solemnly in agreement. Medicine Wheel rubbed up against me, as if to say “Don’t worry, my friend.” I could have cried, they were all so sweet. Mysteriously, the Hitchhiker was nowhere to be found.
I entered the forest, alone.
I drove for hours before I found him.
I came to a clearing, and in the center of this clearing stood the most magnificent totem pole you have ever seen. It was gigantic! I had never seen one taller, more intricately carved, or more beautifully painted. So many colors! You could get lost in the color. I pulled closer to examine it. As I crept closer, and closer, and closer, my bumper grazed it and all holy hell broke loose. First of all, I thought I had broken it (I can be clumsy). It started to shake violently and the top came tumbling down. Oh no! I thought. This is going to go right through my roof! Neil is going to kill me! I threw myself into reverse and tried to get out of harm’s way. But like when your feet are glued to the earth in a terrifying dream, dear reader, I could not move. So I rolled my headlights down to the ground, closing my eyes, and braced myself for the impact, but it never came. When I finally rolled my headlights back up to see what had happened, the most unusual bird, with the most beautiful, vibrant feathers sat on my hood, staring into my windshield. He was huge! Of course, it was the Thunderbird.
“Hello Thunderbird,” he said.
I was confused.
“Excuse me?” I said.
“Hello Thunderbird,” he said, again.
“Um, I thought you were the Thunderbird,” I said.
He thought for a moment, and flew around me. Then, suddenly, and just like that, he flew back up to the top of the totem pole, turned himself back into wood, and sat there, part of the totem pole once again.
Oh no. This wasn’t the way this was supposed to go down. I thought and thought. I finally realized that there must be some terrible mistake. That he must have wanted a Thunderbird, not a Lincoln Contintental. But I was not about to be denied. I gathered all my courage and bumped into the totem pole again. Nothing. I tried again. Still nothing. Alright, well, here goes, I thought, and full speed ahead I headed for it again. This time, before I hit it (thank goodness), the Thunderbird flew down from atop his perch.
“STOP!” he yelled, flapping his trememdous wings, and as he did so the entire forest was filled with booming, echoing, terrifying thunder. Waves and waves of thunder. I started to yell No Rain! No Rain! No Rain! But the Thunderbird looked at me with complete disgust so I stopped.
“I WANTED A THUNDERBIRD!” The Thunderbird roared at me.
“N-n-n-no” I stammered. “There must be some mistake. I am not a Thunderbird, but I am the right car. I am the one you have been waiting for. I am ready.” I choked out, stumbling on my words, not clear what exactly I was trying to say.
“YOU DARE TO SPEAK!” he boomed, even louder. The thunder around us raged on as he flapped his wings. “WHO ARE YOU? WHERE DO YOU COME FROM? WHO TOLD YOU TO COME HERE?”
“I am … LV,” I said, still stammering, “I am from the year 2010, I mean, 1959, I mean, no, 2010. Look, Mister, uh, Thunderbird. I am on a mission! I may not be a Thunderbird, but … But! I have a lot of Thunder Sky batteries in my tr . .” He cut me off.
“ANSWER MY QUESTIONS,” he shouted, “NOTHING MORE!”
“I am LincVolt,” I said, more confident now, angry that he was rejecting me because I wasn’t a Thunderbird. ”I come from Broken Arrow Ranch, and was sent here by The Lady of the White Buffalo, and John Lame Deer.” There. I had finally stopped shaking. “I am … the one you need,” I added. Bravely, I thought.
Suddenly, the Thunderbird stopped flapping his wings, and all got quiet. The thunder stopped. I was so stunned at the change in the weather that I couldn’t think of a single thing to say. Very softly, the Thunderbird broke the tremendous silence saying, almost to himself,
“Broken Arrow.” And then, more softly, like a prayer, ”The wonder is strong in him.”
I watched in silence as he flew all around me then, looking me over carefully. He paused for a long while as he looked inside my trunk. Finally he landed back on my hood and just like that, he said,
"Yes. I know you now. You will do. Come. I shall be your guide.”
BLACKFOOT & TSLEIL-WAUTUTH
The Thunderbird did not say anymore, but just turned and sat up by my hood ornament, and we started to move together through the forest, and fast. We seemed to be traveling under his power. As we emerged from the forest out the other side, I was stunned by the natural beauty of where we were. It was clear that we were back, back in time now. Crossing Canada at a time when it was first inhabited. At the beginning. An aboriginal time. I was amazed. It was breathtakingly beautiful. There were no roads, just paths, but it was almost as if I were flying, as if the Thunderbird held me in his claws and carried me along.
It wasn’t long before we stopped before a crude hand-carved sign that read Tsleil-Waututh. I recognized it as the name of one of the first four nations! The Thunderbird flew from my hood, and landed atop the sign. With a magnificent clap of thunder and a great deal of fog, he began, to my absolute amazement, to shapeshift! Fond memories of a time when I once shapeshifted into a hawk back at Brizio’s came flooding back to me. I became confused for a minute, but then the fog cleared. A very beautiful man now sat atop the sign, in very impressive looking Native garb, dripping with feathers and beads. I recognized the magnificent feathers of the Thunderbird. The man wore moccasins on his feet, I noticed that the bottoms were very very black. His hair was very long, and also very black. He hopped down from atop the sign as if he were still a bird, landing on his feet lightly, and began to speak.
“Welcome. Lord of The Plains, Blackfoot.” He stepped aside.
Behind him, having stepped out from behind the sign stood a smaller person, a woman, in bare feet. I hadn’t noticed her before. Her hair hung beyond her waist almost down to her feet in one long black braid, a strip of what looked like some kind of soft silver woven right into it. They stood very close together now, almost touching. It moved me, somehow. There was something that seemed so gentle about them. So innocent. The woman stepped forward, and began to speak, she held a smile in her voice.
“Welcome to time out of mind. The time before which no one can remember. I am Tsleil-Waututh. And this is Blackfoot. We are of the very first peoples of Canada. From the very first nations of Canada, of which there are hundreds. We don’t know how many nations there are here now, but we estimate it to be more than 600. It doesn’t matter how many of us there are, we are a peaceful people, we co-exist, and all together hold two things sacred. The Great Spirit, and Mother Earth. We have been chosen by them to send you on your way.”
Chosen by The Great Spirit and Mother Earth? That kind of blew my mind, but being frustratingly self-absorbed, all I was able to come up with was,
“Send me on my way?”
“Yes,” she said. “You are getting close to achieving your goals, close to carrying out your mission. We must teach you your final lessons, give you your final gifts, from here, in the past, to take into the future.”
I just nodded. I wanted her to talk on and on, forever, her voice felt like a cradle. It soothed me, made me less scared. Yes, I was scared. A little. But it was The Lord of The Plains, Blackfoot, who picked up the conversation.
“We are a peaceful people, LV,” he said, his voice the opposite of the Thunderbird’s, it was so gentle. “We maintain a sacred trust with the Earth. This sacred trust began with aboriginal people all over the world, and must be protected in the future. Certain people, and in certain cases, things,” he said pointedly, touching my fenders, “ have been chosen by The Great Spirit and by Mother Earth to carry on and to perpetuate this sacred trust. To carry the torch, if you will.” He put special emphasis on “torch” but I didn’t react, as I didn’t know why he had said that so emphatically. I just nodded. He went on.
“My people are called The Lords of the Plains because we have covered this sacred land on foot, from end to end, adapting to new ways of life and becoming accustomed to the land. It is said that the very soles of our feet are black because we walk through the ashes of prairie fires in order to keep moving, to learn the land well, to protect our sacred trust with the Earth. It is how we have earned the name Blackfeet.” He looked down at his feet, I followed his gaze. What! His feet were bare, and the bottoms of his soles were black as coal! The legend was true!? I flashed my headlights to get a closer look and I watched as, just like that, moccasins with black bottoms appeared on his feet again, and I thought surely I was seeing things, delusional at last. I looked up at him with a question in my mind but he said nothing, just gave me a knowing look and stepped aside. A wave of familiarity passed through me. The woman began to speak.
“You are here with us first, LV, the Tsleil-waututh, because you are about to begin your real journey, set out on your mission, and we are a people of movement, a people of change. We travel throughout the territories of Canada, keeping villages in different locations so that we can live wherever seasonal resources are plentiful. We literally change with the weather, with the seasons. We understand the importance of not only change, but flexibiltiy.
Mother Earth has shaped our culture and who we are. We live in harmony with her. We abide by her laws, and considers ourselves her guests. She is a gracious and loving host. We eat at her table, on her command. When her tides go out, our table is set. Her lands and waters are as much a part of us as we are of them. Our only constant, is change.
LV, we are The Wind, it is the wind we will give to you, to carry you on your journey through the past here in Canada tonight, and in your future journey in North America in the year 2010. You will feel us beneath your tires as you move forward, and you will think of us and remember that change, and flexibility, is needed in order to live in harmony with Mother Earth.”
With that, she blew me away. No, I mean, literally. She blew me away. She wasn’t kidding about being the wind. She lowered her head, her great long braid falling forward as she did so, and then, after some time, she lifted up her head, drew it back, and started to blow. Whooooooosh. The most tremendous wind I have ever felt came out of her mouth, and it just kept blowing, like a hurricane. It spun me around and I was airborn, again. I looked around frantically for the Thunderbird and saw that he was perched calmly on my hood, leading the way as we rode the winds of change.
We rode on the wind for a very long time. When I looked down at the ground, I marveled at the colors. Waves of color, every color in the rainbow, as we flew across those great wide prairies. Why, the Thunderbird has dragged me over the rainbow, wait until I tell Neil about that! I thought to myself, and smiled, looking down at the spectacular kaleidoscope of color spreading beneath us like a blanket.
When we landed next, in another part of Canada, far far away, we landed in a dense fog. One by one, people stepped out of the fog and formed a circle around us. Eventually, we were enclosed in what seemed like an entire army of native people. Beyond the circle, was water. A great, rushing river. The Thunderbird flew off of my hood, spreading his gigantic wings wide as he did so, circled the circle once and then landed, on the earth, shapeshifting into Blackfoot once again as soon as his claws hit the ground.
“These are the peoples of Lil’wat, LV,” Blackfoot said, in his soft voice. “They speak with a language all their own.”
I didn’t hear anything at first. But then. It grew louder. And louder. The most beautiful sound. A hundred voices, all saying different things, but sounding the same. Rather than chaos, it was harmony. A most beautiful, orchestral, celestial sound. I was able to zero in on a different voice with no trouble, and hear perfectly what it was saying, or to listen more remotely and hear a single, unified sound, of harmony, and peace. It was the voice of peace I was hearing, The voice, of love. I knew it. I felt a catch in my heart. I checked to make sure I was turned off lest my motor kick on and interrupt this perfect feeling, on our foggy trip.
As I tried to zero in on individual voices once more, there was one that stood out. I couldn’t tell who it was coming from, but I could hear it loud and clear.
“We are Lil’Wat, LV,” the voice said. “We have a sacred relationship with the Earth, built on mutual respect and trust, like any sound, lasting relationship between beings. Our history is written upon the land, told through the stories of transformation, mystery and power. Not unlike yourself, LV.”
Suddenly, what I had seen as people all around us, were no longer people but drums, beautiful intricately carved wooden hand drums, each one different in appearance and sound. And they were beating, all on their own. The river seemed to flow to their constant, pounding beat. The voice, though, continued.
“We are the push, the rhythm, the beat. The thing that drives you . The Force. The power of creativity, and magic. We are Water, for without us there is no creation, no life. We harness the power of the moon. Like the ocean, like the river that flows, our rhythm is never ending.”
I was mesmerized now by the drumming, it was putting me into a trance. If I were a woman, I would have danced. The voice was fading. Before it faded away completely I heard it say this:
“LV, you must maintain a vivid and questing belief in a future for the Earth. We are a nation founded on joy. On singing. On drumming. We have a message, and a gift for you. Our beat never stops. When you grow weary, you will hear our drums deep within your soul when you are alone, and like they are doing now, they will drive you forward. Spirit her on!”
The drums grew louder and louder and louder until I felt completely possessed by them. Spirit me on they did. The next thing I knew we were in an entirely different part of Canada, and my head, uh, computer brain, was pounding. The Thunderbird was perched on my hood, staring into my windshield, looking slightly annoyed that it was taking me so long to come back into myself.
“Finally,” he said and flew to the ground, turning into Blackfoot. He started walking, his black bottom moccasins leaving soft footprints in the grass. I knew I was supposed to follow.
We walked and walked. I wondered why we weren’t flying like before. I asked Blackfoot but he just kept walking, he never said a word. I rolled along behind him, amazed that I could move so easily along the grass. Oh, yes. It was all grass here. Grass and more grass. There was no road, twisted or otherwise. We were making our own way. But Blackfoot seemed to know exactly where he was going.
At last we came to a river. I wondered if Blackfoot was going to expect me to drive through it. I hoped not. I looked around for a Blue Heron but didn’t see one. Finally Blackfoot paused and turned to face me.
”Prepare yourself, LV” was all he said, scaring the living bejesus out of me, and then he just sat down, cross-legged on the ground.
We stayed together listening to the birds for a long while. The sun dropped lower in the sky. Nothing happened.
This went on for hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours and hours. Hours and hours and hours and hours. I didn’t dare say anything, and anyway, I know how time fades away. I dozed off. I woke to the sound of voices, and laughter.
I saw Blackfoot standing with his feet in the river, his black bottom moccasins rested on the bank nearby. He stood next to a woman, who also had her feet in the river. Her shoes were nowhere in sight. She was holding her long dress high, so as to not get it wet, her long blond hair flowing out behind her like a river all its own. She was listening intently to something Blackfoot was saying, and then she was laughing. It sounded like wind through the trees. They sensed I was awake, and turned to me.
They came out of the river and walked right up to me, surprising me by hopping onto my hood, sitting on it like a couple of teenagers hanging out in a parking lot. I expected them to start smoking. They sat there for a moment in silence. Blackfoot spoke first.
“LV, this is the land of the Musqueam. The people of the river grass. They are wise people. They call themselves the people of the river grass because they know that, like the river grass, in some periods, people will flourish, and in some periods the population will dwindle, affected by things we can’t see today. They have the wisdom to know that change is inevitable, and that hope is essential. Without hope, all is lost.”
The woman hopped off my hood, opened it, and reached inside. Just like that. I felt her hand on my heart. She stayed that way, in complete silence, for what seemed like forever. I felt her energy flowing into me. After a time, Blackfoot closed the hood, and she was gone. He began walking back the other way, expecting me to follow.
“Wait! Wait! What was that all about,” I cried! “Who was that? What was she doing? I thought each nation was suppposed to be imparting some kind of wisdom to me, giving me some kind of gift!”
Blackfoot stopped dead in his tracks. He turned and looked at me, shapeshifting back into the Thunderbird as he did so. He spread his gigantic, majestic wings wide and began to flap them. The thunder started up again. It was deafening. I was frightened. If I had ears I would have covered them. I put my top up before the rains came.
But no rain came. Just as suddenly as it began, the thunder tempest stopped. The Thunderbird landed on my hood, glared into my windshield, and in his most frightening voice said,
”You really don’t know? Are you really that naïve?”
I didn’t think he really wanted me to answer, so I stayed silent. Better to remain silent and thought a fool than open your mouth and prove it, as the saying goes.
“That, LV, was Mother Earth. What she GAVE you,” – and he practically spat out the word “gave” – “was wisdom.” Then, more gently, he said again, “Wisdom.”
I was speechless. Mother Earth herself? She seemed so unassuming. So … down to earth. Oh dear. Of course she would be like that! How could I have been so stupid! I wanted her to come back! To tell me more, tell me more!
It wasn’t happening. We moved on, walking out the way we came, the Thunderbird as Blackfoot again, walking ahead of me, my headlights shining on the black bottoms of his moccasins as he moved forward, a step at a time.
This time, we walked deep into the forest. It felt like the same forest where I had met the Thunderbird, but I couldn’t be sure. Up and down hills we walked, deeper and deeper we went. I wondered if I was ever going to get out. At last we came to a clearing, and I was surprised to see a building. A beautiful kind of long house, made of cedar. I was surprised, because remember, this was thousands of years ago.
Blackfoot turned to me and said, ”This is Squamish Nation. This is their sacred place, their Longhouse.”
As he spoke, the Longhouse lit up with candlelight, it glowed as if it was on fire. It was as if he had done it with his voice.
“Come,” he said, and began to walk toward the Longhouse. I followed slowly behind him.
We came to one end of the Longhouse, and found its two gigantic cedar barn doors swung open wide. A kind of forge with a great fire crackled steadily in one corner. Beside it, a man worked on a piece of leather.
Blackfoot watched me closely. Then he said, softly,
“Do you recognize it?”
I didn’t. I rolled closer. Then I saw. Why, it was the guitar strap Neil was to wear at the Olympics Closing Ceremonies! But … This was in a place that was called time out of mind, a time before which no one could remember, how could that be? I remembered my conversations with Stephen Hawking and stopped wondering, and just accepted it.
“The man who works on the leather and its sacred symbols is named Lincoln, like you,” Blackfoot added, so gently it took me by surprise. “It is no accident. You have been chosen by The Great Spirit, and by Mother Earth, to keep a sacred trust between the planet and its inhabitants, but not just you, LV. Neil, too. You do not carry this torch alone.” That was all he said about that, and walked on. I stayed for a moment, watching the other Lincoln work on the leather. He stopped his work for a moment and looked up at me and smiled. I smiled back, and rolled on, after Blackfoot, full of wonder.
“Now I must tell you one more thing before you leave this place,” Blackfoot said. I watched as he reached both hands up to the sky and made a bird call, shrill and loud. A tiny sparrow appeared from a nearby tree, and landed in his right hand. He held it out to me and it flew to my hood ornament, perching its tiny self there.
“You are named for the Lincoln Sparrow, LV, a sacred bird on this Earth.”
“The Lincoln Sparrow?” I said, “I”ve never heard of it.” I thought that little sparrow gave me a dirty look but how can a bird give you a dirty look? Wow, now I’m really losing it, I thought.
“The Lincoln Sparrow is a master of flight and camouflage, because of its small size,” Blackfoot explained. “If it was not highly creative, it would perish.” He went on. “In our world, the Lincoln Sparrow is symbolic of higher thoughts and ideals.” The sparrow flew up and sat on his shoulder then. He smiled, for what seemed like the first time since our journey began. “She likes to fly with me.”
“I am the Thunderbird, but you are the Sparrow,” he said, almost affectionately then, and patted my driver’s side door, just the way Neil always does. I was confused for a moment but then, of course, the Lincoln Sparrow started to sing. With words.
“Why should I feel discouraged? Why should the shadows come? Why should my heart be lonely when I know with Spirit I am one? I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free, the Eye of the Spirit is on the Sparrow, I know Spirit watches over me.”
It was a familiar song, some rendition of an age old Biblical text? I couldn’t be certain, but I knew I had heard it before. I looked at Blackfoot for explanation but he was deep in thought over by a rock. I rolled over to see what he was looking at. I gasped. It was the most beautiful rock I had ever seen, a giant block of pure mica. Silver and shiny and majestic! I wanted to touch it. Blackfoot didn’t look up, but kept staring down at the rock as he spoke.
“Squamish is an organized and sophisticated nation, founded on respect, equality and harmony, LV. Their symbol is,” and here he paused for a long while, “the Thunderbird.”
I looked at Blackfoot’s face. It was serene. I expected him to shapeshift back into the Thunderbird, but he did not.
“So this is your home,” I said.
“In a manner of speaking,” he said. “But not really. I have no home that is near people. My home is deeper into this forest, where you came before. Where you first found me. I am the Thunderbird, the Creator, Destroyer and Controller of Nature. My eyes issue the dawning day.”
I remembered what John Lame Deer and the Lady of the White Buffalo had told me about the Thunderbird then. That he dwells in regal solitude in the Mystic Cedar Forest, where no man may enter.
“But isn’t that lonely?” I asked. He didn’t answer. Instead, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a chisel, and lifted his hand high into the air. I hoped he was going to break off a piece of mica to give me as a souvenir, it was so beautiful! The rock broke apart into a million pieces the minute he brought his hand down and the whole world turned silver.
When the dust settled a little bit I saw the most incredible sight. Blackfoot’s hands were silver now, but it wasn’t as if they were full of mica, or even covered in mica, it was like they were mica, like they were fountains of mica. He stood over me and mica flowed from his fingers into me, wherever he lay his hands. Everywhere there was chrome, there was now mica. I was in awe! It was so beautiful. I shone! Sparkled. After Blackfoot touched every part of me that was chrome with his magical mica hands, flowing mica through his hands into me, he began to run his hands softly over my windshield, and all my windows.
“Oh, no, um, uh oh, I’m not sure that is such a good idea,” I said, “Neil needs to be able to see!” I cried.
Blackfoot just kept doing what he was doing, running his hands over my glass so gently that I could just barely feel his touch, and then I saw that I could still see, but there was a shimmer in everything I saw. It was kind of like seeing the world through rose colored glasses but different. And better. A new vision.
“The Earth is part of you now, LV,” Blackfoot said, as he finally finished and stood back to admire his handiwork, clapping his hands together to stop the flow of mica from his fingertips. “Mica. Just like the first cars. The aboriginal automobiles!”
“What?” I said.
“Isinglass,” he said. “Thin transparent sheets of mica called ‘isinglass’ will be used in the future – well for you it will be long past, by the future I mean the early 20th century - as isinglass curtains in horse-drawn carriages and early automobiles. The first car windows!”
I was amazed. I’m a car and a smart car to boot and even I didn’t know that.
“Mica also has a special relationship with electricity, like you LV,” he said.
"And like Neil !" I added, excited at all he was telling me, and that now mica was part of me, forever. He watched me carefully, and seemed amused by my excitement. He smiled. I did a doubletake. For a second he looked so familiar. But he turned away, to face the rock, and continued.
“Mica can be used in the future as an insulator in high voltage electrical equipment. Essentially, mica will keep you grounded, LV. Help you keep your wheels on the ground.” He laughed. Then he became serious.
“Mica is a very special mineral. It’s one of Earth’s magical gifts. It holds properties that are essential to your mission,” Blackfoot said. I was intrigued.
“The word ‘mica’ comes from the Latin word micare, meaning ‘to glitter.’ All that glitters isn’t gold, I know you’ve heard that story told, LV, but in addition to giving you the gift of a new and magical vision, mica will keep the gift of wonder near. You carry part of the earth with you now. A most wondrous, extraordinary part.”
Blackfoot walked around me slowly now, touching all the chrome parts that now held mica inside them. Finally he stood very still in front on my grill and began to slowly shake his head back and forth, as if he were wondering something to himself. He put his hands in his pockets. As we stood there wondering at each other, I remembered things I had read long ago about the mythical and mystical Thunderbird. I remembered that the Thunderbird is a symbol for strength as well as change, with its three tail feathers representing the past, the present and the future! I closed down my headlights as if shutting my eyes and tried to remember the Thunderbird’s three tail feathers. I saw them in my mind, and was startled to realize that I had seen them before, the tattoo mark of the three feathers on some other friends of mine, from a different place. I could see those three feathers so clearly in my mind. When I lifted my headlights again, Blackfoot was gone! The Hitchhiker stood in his place, with John Lame Deer, the Lady of the White Buffalo and Medicine Wheel walking up the path toward us behind him.
“But where is Blackfoot? Where is the Thunderbird!” I cried. ”I want to ask him about those three feathers! Thank him for the mica, for being my guide, for all he did for me!”
The Lady of the White Buffalo soothed me with her voice as they all piled into me.
”It’s alright LV, he knows, he knows,” she said, over and over again.
It was the Hitchhiker at the wheel again, he turned me around, and we headed home. Thank goodness for Paul Perrone and his magic, because I was exhausted. I put myself on cruise control, left myself in the hands of The Hitchhiker, and fell asleep.
MEANWHILE, BACK AT THE RANCH
When I woke up, it was dawn, and the Lady of the White Buffalo, Medicine Wheel and John Lame Door were there, gently asleep inside of me, but the Hitchhiker was gone. As I watched them sleep I wondered about it all. Why Canada? Why me? I kind of laughed to myself remembering how I am always joking with Neil, and anyone who will listen really, that although I am a big American car (and proud of it), part of me is Canadian: My heart.
My friends were awake now and getting ready to say goodbye. As always, I didn’t want them to go. We said our goodbyes, but I wasn’t distraught because I knew I would surely see them again. As they were leaving, the Lady of the White Buffalo leaned close to me and said, rather mysteriously, “You will see, LV.” I wondered at her words. As I watched them disappear into the morning fog, I wondered if I would see Neil later. I wanted to tell him about my latest adventure! I didn’t have to wonder long, no sooner had the others disappeared than he appeared at the garage door. Oddly, he didn’t seem concerned that the door had been left open all night, it was as if he already knew.
“Hey LV,” he said, as if I saw him every day at the crack of dawn.
”Hi Neil !” I said, excitedly. I didn’t want to hit him with my long story this early in the morning, I thought I’d wait until later. I was still trying to process it all in my computer brain anyway.
Neil opened the driver’s side door and hopped in. I wondered if we were going to go on an early morning test run. But Neil only sat there for a moment or two, resting his two hands on the wheel, staring out through my windshield, out through the open garage door, out onto the ranch. I was wondering what he was thinking about, and I had a million questions. Like did he already know my story before I told him? Sometimes it seemed like he did. And what was that in his hand that he kept kind of tapping on the steering wheel? I always had a lot of questions for Neil but I knew him well enough by now not to ask.
After a while he hopped out, shutting the door gently behind him. No test run this morning I guess. I always hate to see him go, but now that I am home it’s a little easier. He patted my driver’s side door, as he always does when he’s leaving, but then suddenly he reached in and placed whatever he had been holding lightly in his hand on my dashboard, deep in the pocket between the windshield and the dash. It flashed in the early morning sun. Mica!
I knew it. I turned to say something but he was already at the garage door. I went back to wondering about it all. What did Neil know? HOW did he always know? Why Canada, why me.
I watched Neil then as he went. Every now and then he would stop, pick something up from the ground, examine it, and stick it in his pocket, deciding it a treasure.
“The wonder is strong in him,” I heard the voice of the Thunderbird again as if he were sitting on my hood. (I looked to see if he was. He wasn’t, but hey, you never know. Anything’s possible around here.)
Suddenly, Neil turned and shouted back to me, with a kind of wry smile on his face,
“Part of you is Canadian anyway, isn’t it LV?”
I wanted to laugh out loud! He had surprised me again. Neil has never said a word about my joking that I’m part Canadian, although I’ve said it a hundred times or more. (He’s like that. He doesn’t always comment, but he hears everything. Sometimes I think he can read my mind. Or maybe my heart.)
I flashed my headlights in response, smiling back at him.
He stopped again to examine something on the ground, under a tree, on a hill. As he straightened up, and stepped back out into the light, he held something up for me to see, turning it in the sun. It was mica. He put it in his pocket. For the first time I noticed that he was wearing moccasins. I watched him walk away, and I saw that the bottoms were black.
Suddenly I felt so happy and so proud, I thought that part of me that is Canadian might burst.
On my recent trip to Fort Mac in Alberta, I drove Lincvolt about 1800 miles from San Francisco running on E 85 fuel. I have chosen to use Ethanol, a much cleaner fuel created from plants nourished by the sun and rain and grown by farmers rather than run on gasoline, which has a carbon footprint of 19.5 LBS (pump to tailpipe) per gallon or 28 LBS CO2 per gallon (earth to tailpipe) according to the Mass Institute of Technology.
Although E 85 is hard to find in some parts of the USA, it is much cleaner than gasoline and since I am a believer in Climate Chaos as a result of Global Warming, I have chosen this greener fuel. On the trip back from Fort Mac, I ran out of fuel in Red Deer Alberta after searching in vain for an E 85 or pure ethanol fuel source in CANADA. In Red Deer Alberta we were told by Husky Oil reps that they had “never heard of E 85”. Lincvolt does not run on gasoline by design.
In Canada, where the dirtiest oil on the planet is extracted from the Alberta Tar sands at an immeasurable human cost to the First Nations people, and disease statistics reflect 30% increase in some fatal diseases, there is no freedom to choose an alternative to gasoline at the pump. This is un-Canadian.
As a proud Canadian, I cannot let this go by without a fight. Canadians deserve Freedom to Choose the Fuel they use. Canadians should have a fuel choice at the pump that considers Future Generations. Canadians should have the freedom to express themselves through the choices they make, not have those choices made for them by a government that is too close to industry and over concerned with money and petro dollar value. We do not have to be spoon fed by the Big Oil Companies. Stand with me for Future Generations and Bring Light to the conditions In Canada as we move forward on this mission.
As time passes, you will see what we are up to. If you believe in Freedom of Choice for Canadians, you will have a voice in this with us. It will be your chance to stand up.
BRING LIGHT-FUTURE GENERATIONS