I'm realizing this whole event needs to be done in chapters, there's just too much to try to put into one blog.
On Wednesday, September 1, all 6 gals rendezvoused outside of Fort Collins, Colorado and in 2 cars we made the journey towards Lander, Wyoming. The sweat lodge was scheduled for Thurs. Sept. 2. We were told to plan on arriving at Stanfords house between 12:00 and 3:00 on the 2nd in order to cook dinner for everyone (this could mean up to 35 people - many will gather for a sweat lodge) that would be consumed after the sweat. In addition we would purchase things that Lisa Jones had told us were favorites; Fanta orange soda, diet and regular soda of any flavor, pesto, Kool light soft packs, to name a few.
The six of us had a wonderful morning of exploring Lander, lunch and then hit the grocery store timing it so we would be at the Addison's by 3:30, which we were. The initial "welcome" was very confusing ... nobody seemed to know we were coming and seemed surprised there was going to be a sweat. Stanford was off in another town running errands. Uh-oh. Luckily a couple of my gal pals weren't intimidated by this, started unloading the car saying "well, we've brought dinner and we're going to get it cooking for y'all now". This was fine, no problem. Stanford would be back around 5:00 or 5:30 and the sweat would, indeed, take place by sunset.
There was a lot of just hanging out, walking to the horse corral, walking to the river, all kinds of people coming and going with kids and dogs appearing and disappering. It's literally a beehive of activity. I was struck by how no one really introduced themselves. They would say hello and give big, warm, welcoming smiles but names did not seem important at all.
Stanford arrived and we helped unload the car that was filled with supplies. Stanford waved hello to everyone, drove his wheel chair up the ramp and disappeared into the house to have a cigarette. We slowly made our way in and all introduced ourselves and were told that it was still too hot for a sweat so it would wait until sundown. Molly (my niece) and I decided to take a walk down a cow path. We were immediately joined by 2 young boys who, they told us, were cousins. They had just returned from town with plastic guns that shot tiny, hard, bright green plastic BB's. Great, I thought! These 2 never asked our names and we didn't ask them theirs. They were our warriors and all set to protect us ... once they understood that we would not be intimidated and taken hostage that is! I never knew so many rattlesnakes could exist just out of sight on this cow path. There seemed to be one every 25 yards .... or so these boys said ... and they had to be shot at to scare them away - of course! And then there were free range bulls behind every bush. We were told to "RUN!" but when we didn't we were told that it was OK, they could protect us. Phew.
By the time we got back to the house with these two young warriors they were asking us our names. Ah, getting to know you and understanding how you are as a person is far more important then a name. I liked this, and felt delighted when our new friends now wanted to know how to call to us.
Stanford was driving his wheel chair out to the corral just as we got back to the house so we followed along. After the horses seemed to accept a few of us there with Stan he turned to me and said "Mary, when did you call me?". I walked over and said "well, Stanford, I called you back in April initially. I am the woman Lisa Jones talked to you about. My husband had brain cancer and we agreed that a sweat for him would be good. Then I called you in June to tell you that he had passed away in May but that I still wanted to do a sweat and we agreed on this date, September 2." As I was talking I saw Stanford start to remember all this and I continued to say "I didn't want to bug you and call you again to remind you as I thought you'd probably remember," and then I added with a laugh "but I guess not huh?". Stanford laughed with me and just said "yeah, I screwed that one up!"
The afternoon wore on and since nobody had watches or cell phones we never really knew the time, just that the sun was getting lower in the sky and it was beginning to cool off quite a bit. We all agreed that just being with this family was very much part of the whole adventure. I was sitting on the small porch just off the kitchen when Stanford wheeled out and parked right beside me and started chatting with everyone who was on the porch at this time.
"So, Mary, how many people did you bring?", he asked.
"Oh, about 2,000." He laughed pretty hard at this. The whole family, including Stan, have a wonderful sense of humor and are very easy going so it was not hard to just hang around for all these hours waiting for the sweat.
The fire to heat the rocks had been started and constantly attended by a couple men for awhile now and these same men were now using shovels to carry these rocks to the pit inside the lodge .... it was almost sweat time. Others told us that usually there is a sweat on Wednesday nights but there had not been one last night - Wednesday the first - so everyone was excited that there would be a sweat after all.
The six of us from Maine had many emotions, all mixed, about this sweat lodge that was getting prepared for all of us.
To be continued ....