30 April 2008

Recognizing Saommitsiki'somm

llll ) lllllllllllllllllllllll Saommitsiki’somm….

It’s been four sleeps since nitsisttayihpinnaan at paahtomahksikimi to greet the arriving pi’kssiiksi of niipoyi… omiksi aapsspinniiksi who are now near to hatching their goslings, omiksi mi’ksikatsiiksi ki omiaanistsa’aiksi who are just getting their oyiiyis sites selected. After nitsisttayihpinnaan, that night nitsipapainihp the first sa’ai egg to be laid, although I couldn’t tell exactly where it was. Matonni nita’pawaawahkaa, searching unsuccessfully for it. Sa’aiksi are so much more crafty about hiding their oyiiyiistsi than aapsspinniiksi. All the same, I had a good look around a few of the wetlands near nookoowa, gathering cattail fluff along the way to test out as potential fill for a new pillow. It was a warm day, a drastic change from the blizzards that led up to our ceremony. The naamooyiksi were swarming the tiny spring buds of bullberry bushes, as well as the red cones of poplar. Sspopiiksi were sunning themselves at sikoohkotoki, which means it’s very likely the pitsiiksiinaiksi have emerged from their hybernacula. Throughout kainaissksaahkoyi, the aohkiistsi are alive with blue ki green winged teals, shovelers, aayi’sipisaiksi, spotted sandpipers, avocets, coots, eared grebes, even the occasional great blue heron. Along Naapisisahtaa, silverweed is showing emerald ki the first asparagus are piercing up through the earth.

The ones who are conspicuously not present are matsiyikkapisaiksi, ki their absence has provided me an impetus for further learning. Living with our lunar count, as piipiiaakii ki niisto have for the past couple years, we've found the traditional descriptors for each ki’somm to be dead-on accurate. In fact, at the close of last winter, when the first silver crescent of matsiyikkapisaiki’somm came into view, their songs could be heard immediately, ki I took the opportunity to wade-in amongst them ki do a bit of photography. Since then, everything has fallen in place predictably, up to sa’aiki’somm just recently. At that point, I was expecting matsiyikkapisaiki’somm to follow, but annohk it’s almost faded out, ki still no songs. I suspect they will emerge in a few sleeps, leaving something of a dilemma… what to call the present cycle? Nitaanistaitsihtaa this is when one is supposed to use the term saommitsiki’somm, because it’s just as its name implies, deceptive. Kaahsinnooniksi have said that saommitsiki’somm is supposed to be mid-winter, about where the month of February falls on the Christian calendar. But observing over the past two winters, as part of Iiyohkimiipaitapiiyssin, I’ve counted the seven ki’sommiksi of sstoyiiwa as follows: iitao’tsstoyi, iitaohkanaikokotoyi niitahtaistsi, misamiko’komiaato’s, ka’toyi, piitaiki’somm, sa’aiki’somm, ki matsiyikkapisaiki’somm. Anni niitsoka’pii, as far as I can tell.

This year, I’m expecting thirteen (rather than twelve) ki’sommiksi. My original prediction was that the extra ki’somm would arrive during niipoyi, making six for that season instead of the usual five. But listening out for matsiyikkapisaiksi themselves, that expectation could be off. Either there will be an eighth ki’somm of sstoyiiwa, or perhaps it’s the case that matsiyikkapisaiki’somm shifts between being a cycle in sstoyiiwa ki niipoyi. The latter may have some basis, reflected in omi akaitapiitsinikssin of ksisskstaki amopistaan origin. In some accounts, matsiyikkapisa attempts to offer a gift along with the other animals, but is hypocritically chastised by naamsskii for not having a robe to give. Naamsskii pushes matsiyikkapisa down, ki laying there on his back he holds up seven fingers, declaring that this is his gift to matapiiksi, seven ki’sommiksi of sstoyiiwa during which the animal hides will be thick with fur. The seven is also accounted for in omi akaitapiitsinikssin about naato’si ki ko’komiki’somm, when she chases their sons, trying to kill them. All along the way, they throw back powerful things to create obstacles, until at last using a bladder of aohkii that positions them in the sky as the constellation we call iihkitsikamiksi.

All of this tells me that it would be odd to have an eighth ki’somm of sstoyiiwa, but that matsiyikkapisaiksi definitely have some role in defining where that seasonal transition comes. My prediction now is that it won’t be long before I hear them. But the dilemma then remains, what to call the current cycle? Tentatively, I’m happy referring to it as saommitsiki’somm, despite so much testimony by kaahsinnooniksi that suggests otherwise. They do say, after all, that the name comes from deceptive weather patterns, ki nothing could have been more true of this current ki’somm. It started off warm enough that aapsspinniiksi laid their eggs, but then the waters froze over once more, ki an intense blizzard passed through. I imagine it will take some further years of observation before I can share this understanding of saommitsiki’somm with confidence, but for now it will do as a place-holder at least.