So in early spring my daughter Maxine, and I purposed to attend as many of the ‘Thursdays in the Village‘ nights as we could. We’ve been to a Weed Walk and Bread Making Workshop. We listened as our First Nations neighbours to the east shared stories. We sat in a circle listening to poetry and story-telling. We learned how to felt wool and darn socks. And mostly, we felt community.
So tonight we headed over for a fermentation, tea-making, something-something we don’t really care… We just like to learn new things and connect with people in an old-timey way. And, when it boils right down to it, we like to do these mother-daughter things together.
After an omelette supper at my place (I am lazy), we left in separate vehicles to meet at the Neubergthal Commons for the Wild Tea Fermentation, whatever it was…
Maxine arrived ahead of me.. Most of the events are held at the Altbergthal School. There was her car. And mine. And that’s it. No problem. Sometimes they do stuff at the Community Centre, or the Friesen Housebarn.
I said, “Let’s check out the other places… if no one is there, let’s come back here and sit under the cottonwood… “
And here’s why I said that…
Last Sunday Maxine, and my brother Dave and his family, took some time to visit Geraldine Yvonne Mcmanus at Spirit of the Buffalo Camp and resistance against the Line 3 pipeline (near Gretna). I have not been there, but here is something that Maxine shared about Geraldine. She says, that Geraldine says that the trees are alive and they speak to us. Her words were something like, “If you’re ever feeling angry or upset, go sit under a tree for an hour, and see how you feel. You try it. Just try it.”
This is how Maxine and I ended up on a Thursday evening, just the two of us, sitting under a giant cottonwood on a Thursday night in Neubergthal. You couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful night. The wind was warm, and if you know Cottonwoods, they have a special sound, even when you don’t think the wind is even moving.
We talked. And we were silent. We asked questions of God. And we didn’t have answers. But we have seen signs. And we were okay with it. And we cried. Well, I cried.
And for crying out loud, eventually one of us really had to pee. And guess who of the over-forty, having had several children one of us was going to have real issues if we didn’t think of something soon.
As far as we could see, we (by we, I mean, I) had one of two options. I could head out behind the barn and hope for the best (but apparently, behind the barn was quite open to the neighbouring volley ball court.) Or I could ask one of the neighbours.
We opted for a neighbour because with iPhones and social media these days, you just never know… And the LAST thing me and my kids need is a picture of my lily-white behind plastered all over Instagram.
So we headed over to some place that looked like someone was at home. And of course we could use their bathroom… And of course we were invited to sit on the porch.. And we went through all the essentials of who my parents are, and if my dad is still farming…
And after a while, another couple, out for a walk, showed up… And more lawn chairs were set up to accommodate… And there were deep discussions on who came from where, and how all the ‘problems’ of Neubergthal were solved on this porch…
And because we came from west of Hiway 30, were we the types who put fruit on their vereniki? I explained that we generally did NOT put fruit on our vereniki, but my mom would try to sneak some in sometimes and we ate them, and secretly thought that was okay, even though we were officially opposed.
Darkness fell and the neighbours figured it was time to go home, so Maxine and I decided it was time to leave, too. I said I had left my car keys on a picnic table and we joked about how they’d get stolen. As if.
But when Maxine and I lingered at the Commons, chatting and saying goodnight, our bathroom reprieve host drove his truck over to see if maybe I actually wasn’t able to find my keys… He just wanted to make sure we were okay.
This is the Village of Neubergthal. And this is many folks in all corners of the place where I live.
And maybe the trees speak. They did tonight. I heard them as I sat with Maxine, and as we sat with the neighbours. I don’t know how to describe Kindness that is felt in someone who invites you, a stranger, to sit. Or checks on you to see if you found your keys.
It’s not forced. It just is.
Our host on Thursday nights often says that he believes that the people who show up to a thing, are the ones who were meant to be there. I think tonight was no different.
Neubergthal Culture Day is September 15th. They will host music, seminars and and artisan market. Andrew J. Bergman of “The Daily Bonnet” will be there (I want a freaking autograph), as well as The Letkeman Brothers.
We’ve been there the past two years. It’s beautiful. It’s fall. It’s our heritage.