After many months of long, cold, and dark winter days in the northern hemisphere, the spring season finally approaches. Indigenous culture celebrates spring as the New Year. As Mother Earth begins to awaken from her winter sojourn, I am reminded of a teaching that encapsulates, in part, what Wahkotowin has meant to me.
In 2016, I had the honor of meeting and learning from Anishnabe Elder Dr. Edna Manitowabi at the Indigenous Thought Conference at Blue Quills University. Some of you may know Dr. Manitowabi as an actress, most recently, appearing in the film Indian Horse. One of her teachings highlighted connecting to nature through mindfulness. She taught that if we intentionally practice listening while we are enjoying the outdoors, Mother Nature will sing us a song.
Dr. Manitowabi’s teaching impacted me greatly. Living in rural Alberta has given me the opportunity to easily spend a great deal of time with nature. I grew up participating in outdoor pursuits and living off the land. The outdoors is my “go to” space when I need a grounding space or to find clarity. When I practiced this teaching, I recognized that the songs of nature change with the seasons. This may seem like it should have been obvious to someone who has spent most of their life living in the country. However, mindfully listening really shifted my awareness, and deepened my connection to nature.
The songs nature has shared with me
In the springtime, the ducks and frogs, which live in the creek across the road from my yard, sing the earth awake after a long winter. Summer brings the delightful songs of the songbirds as they celebrate the emergence of their hatchlings. Autumn brings the song of the Canada goose saying farewell as they continue on their migratory path, as well as the bugling Elk during their fall rut. In the winter I hear the song of the ruffed grouse beating his wings against his chest, and the lonely coyote singing into the crisp, night sky.
The teaching of Wahkotowin asks us to understand that all of nature is our kin / relations, as we are also all relations to each other, and it is from that lens that we approach relationship with all things. With this in mind, I am sharing the link to Water: the Sacred Relationship a documentary that shares the teachings of four Elders who discuss relationship to natural elements.
Enjoy the songs of spring!
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