Saturday, September 17, 2005

Happy Birthday Velvety!

Charisma, humor, beauty, sensitivity and a brain and mouth that spout out some of the most unexpected things; is my firecracker of a niece Velvet. Tomorrow she will celebrate her 7th year of life. Happiest of Birthdays to my girl! Seven is a good number. God has blessed us with you.

Most recent memorable moment involving Velvet:

The summer monsoons pummeled the desert and soon filled the pond in our village of No:ligk. After being informed by my grandmother of the many turtles that would be swimming in the pond, I took it upon myself to take my nieces and nephew to see this rarity. I knew we would have a good time and the adventure would be something we could remember forever. Arriving at the pond I told the kids to be VERY quiet so as not to scare away the k'kom:cud (turtles). Slowly we tiptoed to the waters edge and sat down to see if we would catch a glimps of a turtle or two breaking the shimmering surface of the water. It wasn't long before we began to see little heads and shells pop out here and there. Velvet could hardly contain her excitement! After a good 15 minutes of just watching and pointing out each one that gave us a curious glance, we noticed that one turtle had swam into a small part of the pond that jutted out from the deeper waters. I knew that this would be our chance to catch him and have a look at this moss covered creature. Us girls concocted a plan to corral the little guy closer to the edge so that we could grab him and lift him out. Our plan suceeded and soon we where enjoying a close encounter with this cute animal. Everyone had their turn at petting the turtle and took a close look at his little face (which of course was pulled tightly inside his shell). Putting him down on the ground, I told the children to back away so that the turtle could return to the pond. We didn't wait long for the kom:cud to come out of the shell and turn in the direction of the water. He was amazingly quick! If there was a "turtle speed limit", this little one was definitely speeding! He started running back toward the water. Just then, my nephew Daniel came running up behind it and reached out to pick him back up! Just as we all yelled, "NO Daniel!"... the poor guy was scooped up and needlessly dropped on it's back by my over zealous nephew. "Oh no!" Velvet exclaimed. I picked up the turtle and set him back on his belly side. There was no movement. We were all speechless. Velvet looked up at me, and without a word, her eyes cried out "Aunty Lynn! Can you help him?...Is he going to be okay? he...? "( I won't add the word in...but I hope you catch my drift). I said to the kids, "I think he is going to be okay, he's probably just scared and waiting for us to leave so he can go back to swimming". "It's a good thing that God created turtles with hard shells, it protects them from getting hurt." In my mind I hoped that the little fella would begin to show any small sign that he was okay. After waiting a few more minutes and placing the turtle closer to the water, we decided that it was best for us to leave. As we turned to go; Velvet grabbed my hand and said "Aunty Lynn, can I sing a song for the kom:cud?" I should add that it is a practice of our Native culture to respect life and the creation around us. How could I say "no"? So, with the rest of us standing together, Velvet walked down to the pond, stood near the turtle, still sitting motionless, and began to sing a beautiful song that comes from the indigenous peoples of New Zealand. The song was taught to her with the help of my awesome Maori friend Niu. The kids picked up the song very quickly and still love to sing it often. The beautiful sound of Velvet's voice, in all it's innocent glory, reverberated off the rock hill and danced across the sparkling water and I knew this would be a memory I would always cherish. Halfway through the song Velvet's voice began to quiver and through sobs and the lump in her throat she finished presenting her offering to the little turtle. By this time, the rest of us girls were swept up in the emotion of the moment and were also wiping away tears. Velvet turned and ran to me, burying her face in my tummy and weeping for what seemed the tragic end for the turtle she had met this day. I just held her and told her that things would be okay. I promised to come back to the pond the next day to check on the turtle's condition. She and her sister would be going back to Tucson, so she agreed and we returned back to our family house in the village. I'm happy to say that the next day...the turtle was gone and I will hold fast to the belief that he made his way back into the pond and is once again happily enjoying life in the No:ligk pond. As for Velvet, she was happy to hear that the turtle was fine. I told her that her song probably did the trick. My little Velvet, so head strong and mischievious one minute and so humble and tuned into the value of life the next. There is no one like her and I am happy and blessed that God gave her to us.

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