TA-POOTH-KA

I spent several hours trekking along the upper bluffs of the Platte River yesterday.  Hunting that elusive morel, I’d been o-for-the-season so far.  What I found is amazing.

Trudging and searching, I noticed the barest trace, a mere wisp of smoke, emanating from the hollowed crotch of a giant Cotttonwood tree.  I approached very carefully not knowing what to expect.  Nothing, just an old man, drawing on an ancient pipe.  Wrapped in animal skins.

Without glancing at me, patting the  ground next to him.  We sat quietly, watching and listening.  After an age the silence was broken.

“I am called Ta-Pooth-Ka, Man Who Speaks The Truth.”   He had not seen another man in many seasons,  a good life in the woods and along the river.   We rose and walked a while.   I had yet to speak, choosing to listen to this wise man.  Hearing the ways of the various plants as we made our way through newly dappled shade.  Occasionally pausing to point a knowing finger, no words necessary.  I would follow his gaze, understanding in a new way.  Feeling the beauty in the message.  Seeing with clarity the truth.

He sat again.  As I squatted cross legged the morels came into view, a honey hole like I’ve never seen.  How had he known?

I selected the prize from among them and made my offerings to the East, and West, and North and South.  We made our way back to  his tree, my mesh bag fairly bursting.    His hand went up signaling our time was over, the other sweeping towards his hollow, me understanding the invitation to return again.  I still hadn’t felt the need to say a word.

Slipping off into the waning afternoon I heard his final words.

“You Man Who Speaks The Truth.”