By Gypsie-Ami Offenbacher-Ferris
Grandmother held my hand tightly.
“Kekenâtethiwa, kekenâtethiwa!” she said in her, in our Native tongue.
“Hurry up, hurry up child!” She said again in English, laughing as she pulled me along.
We moved quickly through the field, heavy now with ripening maze. Down a slight incline and then a hefty hike up the side of a grass laden incline that was steeper than a hill but not quite a mountain, on this side anyway.
The other side saw a sheer drop off of untold thousands of feet with rocky outcroppings and the occasional mountain goat or two perched stable- legged on barely there ledges, eating their fill of sweet grass.
It was on that side that Grandmother and I made our way precariously to a well-worn ledge and sat down to wait. Neither of us spoke, our companionship and union of spirit set long before either of us had been born.
It was not long at all before the moon, full and rosey pink, began to rise just over the first mountain peak. It was so big and so bright that it frightened me.
“Nothing to be afraid of my child. She’s as natural as well, as nature!” She chucked at herself before continuing.
“Do you remember why she’s called
Têhimini Tepehkikîshethwa child?”
“Strawberry Moon, Grandmother?” Proud of myself for understanding her. “Yes Grandmother, because it’s pink!”
“This is true child,” she winked at me for my effort. “But why would she turn pink at this time of year, do you know?” Grandmother asked softly, her eyes transfixed by the ever-climbing pink orb.
I looked up at her with wide, curious eyes and shook my head no.
“The Great Manetôwa placed her there to tell us when to plant and when to harvest. When the tides will swell and when they will ease. She turns pink on the Solstice of Summer to remind us to pick our strawberries when they are juicy and ripe before they rot in the heat of Kîshethwa,” she said.
“The Sun?” I asked. I received another wink for that and smiled lovingly up at this woman who was the sun, the moon and the stars to me.
As the strawberry moon rose over the mountain, as it had so many times before and would for so many more; I could feel my grandmother’s spirit sitting beside me so strongly, I almost reached out for her translucent hand.
“Nîna tepânêwa kîna,” I whispered to her.
“I love you, too,” she winked and slipped away with the strawberry moon.