Sunday, January 27, 2013

Cold Snap

We are in the midst of what I  believe The Old Farmers' Almanac calls a"cold snap" or "cold spell".  For many parts of the world a week of temperatures that do not get above freezing is not a big deal.  I realized this as I looked at photos in a National Geographic of reindeer herder children with  brilliant red cheeks wearing huge coats of reindeer hide, furs side inwards. I admire the reindeer people but am very glad to live in a more temperate zone. This will end, probably some time this week. Skies have been clear and blue and a great full moon shines upon us.  Lovely and wonderful as it is, I envy a friend who is headed of Barbardos in a few days.

In an abstract way I like weather but, like most people, I take weather very personally depending on how comfortable I am.  In that same National Geographic is an article about the growing numbers of shamans in Mongolia.  With all the climate changes, I understand people turning to traditional ways of understanding the world.  Many of the shamans now practicing are women -- again, not a surprise. The magazine has a photo of a Taatsen shaman, a woman who I met briefly in Mongolia who showed our small group into her tent and pointed out her drum and talismans.  When I think of those hardy, brave people in this season living in tents -- very much as the American plains Indians lived, I shiver and am in awe that in this age of cell phones and jet travel, still tribal people live in a traditional, nomadic ways.  And they have wisdom that eludes us.  We do not envy their hardship, but I, for one, am in awe, of their traditions. That moon shining on me in an hour or so, shone on them twenty-four or thereabouts, hours ago.  Something about that is comforting but I can't define it. 

I have to say that travel gives one a wonderful sense of balance.  The world is huge and the more of it we can managed to see in our lifetimes, the more we realize we are all one under the light of the moon and the sun.  We live in very different ways, we can barely understand one another. I am always very distressed when I talk with people who have no concept of the variety and wonder of the people who share our planet. I feel relatively certain I was merely one of a group of foreigners to that Taatsen shaman woman, but to me she was a representative of numerous groups who live very differently than I do and an indication of all I do not know about our world. I cannot be the Eurocentric thinker I find in so much of what I read in our western papers and magazines.

4 comments:

Cj Cozygirl said...

Outstanding...a huge reminder of how much strength others have and what they endure! Thank you for such a special post!

June Calender said...

Thank you, CJ, for reading and commenting.

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

June -- you are so fortunate to have traveled to distant cultures. Your mention of the shamans in that National Geographic article would be nice to read -- I'll look for it online. Cultures that live close to the earth are so much more in tune with what is happening to our climate as they have a long verbal history of their past ways. Unfortunately, many of our native populations around the world are shrinking and losing their old language and story keepers. Good post ~~ barbara

June Calender said...

Thank you, Barbara. There are other reindeer people in Finland and, on the other side of the continent, in Siberia. The Siberian ones have suffered great cultural disintegration because of Communist collectivization. The Taatsen managed to keep on the move and avoid that, but they are a small remnant. The Nat'l GEographic is December 2012.