Two Crow Feather Woman came into existence sometime during the summer of 1995. We were out camping and hiking in the Cascade Mountains. I was looking for a walking stick and found this silvered old bug-eaten limb on the ground under the fir trees. The borer beetles left a maze of pathways in the wood just under the bark, but they never penetrated the heart of the limb. I tested it and found it to be strong despite the silver color and apparent brittleness of the wood.
Shortly after I found the walking stick, I picked up two crow feathers I found on the ground. They could be raven feathers, I suppose, but the name “Two Crow Feather Woman” came to mind and that was what I named the walking stick.
Over the years, I have added bits of this and that to it: jingle bells that a friend gave me to warn off bears in the woods, a braid of horse hair from a favorite horse, discarded earrings, ribbons, and even the tail feather from a favorite parrot. The coconut bra got tossed over the end somewhere along the way and became a part of the walking stick.
In 1995, I lost my mother. My grief was deep and the pain too much for words, so I began to carve my own little trail of figures into the wood. What emerged was a memorial to God. I burned in favorite scriptures. I remembered dates and events that helped change my life: small blessings; the names of my children and the dates of their birth.
I read something about memorials to God during that time period and while I can no longer recall the source, I remember the gist of the article. The author spoke about how in ancient times, man often made a memorial to God in the form of an altar or a cairn of stones or a temple. The practice crosses religious and cultural boundaries. It is not unique to the Judeo-Christian God, but that was the source from which I was drawing my strength and where my faith lies.
Two Crow Feather Woman is a memorial of all the good things that God has done in my life and the little whispers of His voice that have crossed into my consciousness from my dreams. “I won’t dance the dance/my mother danced” was a song I woke up singing shortly after her untimely and ultimately, self-inflicted death (she smoked cigarettes and steadfastly refused to give them up, even in the face of death).
“Bobcats” refers to the time I sighted a mama bobcat and her two kittens in a canyon above the Alvord desert. A group of us were blessed to watch the kits play as the sun dropped below the horizon and shadows eventually filled the canyon. It was a transcendent moment. There are many such moments recorded on Two Crow feather Woman.
I added to Two Crow Feather Woman until 2001. My sister died in 2000 and in 2001, her oldest daughter came to live with us and we raised her as our own. The day she came to live with us is the last date I etched into the wood.
I no longer need to add to this particular monument to God. There will be others built, but this one is finished. It’s a little odd, but it reflects who God made me – and He made me a little odd. Anything I create, I create because He put it in me to create. And if it is a little odd, then consider His creation. He made the platypus, the giraffe, the flea and the human foot. And those are all pretty odd.
PS – I have never needed the jingle bells to warn off bears in the woods. They’re usually long gone by the time I get where they’ve been.
PSS – the coconut bra was a gift from my oldest daughter upon her first trip to Hawaii. It was a joke.
I’m pretty certain God has a sense of humor.