If you are seeing this paragraph, the site is not displaying correctly. You can see the content, but your current browser does not support CSS which is necessary to view our site properly. For the best visual experience, you will need to upgrade your browser to Netscape 6.0 or higher, MSIE 5.5 or higher, or Opera 3.6 or higher. If, however, you don't wish to upgrade your browser, scroll down and read the content - everything is still visible, it just doesn't look as pretty.
Little Bird in a Tree, by Linda
Little Bird in a Tree
AN: My grandchildren go to Indian Community School in a city, which is a good way for them to get some of their culture since they do not live on a reservation. I imagined the Vulcan school in the Vulcan compound to be something similar:a way to retain cultural identity. Children have to learn their culture, they are not born knowing it. They make mistakes, can be cruel and selfish sometimes, or rebellious - especially if they see the adults holding different attitudes. They have to choose their path. The world is scary, does not always make sense. They try to get an understanding of it and sometimes that understanding broken by a shock of some sort and they have to re-form their world view. I tried to present that in my story. Of course a wise old Vulcan like Soval knows this. Even he has trouble with adults who hold obnoxious attitudes. If all of us had had an Uncle Soval when we were kids, think how much better the world would be!
The sun was just coming up as Amanda Cole walked under the oak tree on her way out of the Vulcan compound in Sausalito. One branch shivered although the rest of the tree was still. There was no wind. Amanda turned, hands on her hips. “Is that you, Omiimii?”
A small girl dropped lightly to the ground. “How did you know I was up there?”
“For an Indian you are not very quiet.”
“I wasn’t hunting. I was playing. And maybe that was my Japanese half playing,” nine year old Omiimii responded. “Besides why do Indians have to be quiet? That’s a cultural stereotype. I like to make lots of noise sometimes.”
“You are right Omiimii. Will you forgive me and teach me some more things about Indians? I’d like to learn.”
“Like Ezyak Soval teaches me about Vulcan stuff?”
“Exactly. You call him Uncle Soval in Vulcan? That’s nice. You can teach me more Japanese things too. By the way, I know your Aunt Hoshi. Are you as good at languages as she is?”
“You know her? Oh yes, you were on the Enterprise for a while. My dad’s sister can’t come visit much. She is always away on the Enterprise. But she sends me all kinds of presents from different worlds. I write to her about the Vulcan School here in the compound, which Uncle Soval got me into. I am good at languages there, yes. I speak Vulcan pretty good now, of course. But there was some talk among people I overheard, because they did not know that I knew Vulcan, that a human could never keep up with the rest of the class. Well, with language studies, history, and philosophy I am at the top of my class. I like Surak’s teachings and I meditate too. It will help me with my Ojibwe vision quest when I get my first menses, whatever that is. It is math, the fast and precise calculations that we have to in our heads that give me trouble. I get teased about that by the other kids until I could almost cry. But I squeak by with it just enough to pass on to the next level. Uncle Soval said I am doing just fine and not to be too concerned about the math.”
“Whoa there, slow down. You talk fast. Soval has told me much of this about you. He and I are good friends.”
“If he is your friend, why do you call him names? He is NOT a mean old Vulcan!”
Amanda was quiet for a minute. How could she explain this? “Omiimii, I know he is a very kind person. But he can put on a show of being mean. He has to sometimes in his work. That is the side of him I saw first, and I believed that was all he was. But after getting to know him, I know different. Listen closely when I call him mean. It is an expression of endearment between friends. I am teasing him in a nice way.”
“Oh,” frowned Omiimii. “He does have feelings you know. Be careful, then, the way you say that.”
“I am careful. And I know friends try to defend each other. Lets be friends too. I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot of each other in the future.”
“Now that his wife has died, are you going to marry him? Cause if you don’t, I will when I grow up.”
Amanda smiled. The frankness of Human children and adult Vulcans she thought. So she had a rival for Soval’s attention. But this amused Amanda and the usual female competitiveness did not kick in. Omiimii’s budding sexuality must not be bruised, even though she was a few years too young for hormonal changes to have started. “You instinctively pick the best of the males. I hope your instinct continues to be good as you grow older and enter a serious relationship, Omiimii. I don’t know about marriage. But when I was your age I felt the way you do about the nurturing adult males in my life. Its natural. It’s a way of learning what you like in people, the personality traits you want in a future mate. We can both be Soval’s friends. But we are friends in different ways to him.”
Omiimii frowned “You get to sleep over in his condo. I only get to sleep over at T’Hana’s family’s condo.”
“Well I don’t get invited to sleep over at T’Hana’s condo. It must be nice to have a schoolmate who is such a close friend. We have sleep overs with friends who are of similar age. ”
“Ok. I guess so. I like Samik too. That’s T’Hana’s baby brother. T’Hana and I saved our money for a birthday present for him, but it all went wrong.”
“What happened?” asked Amanda.
“We bought Samik a Jolly Jumper like the one my baby brother has. Its like a bungee thing for babies with a little chair on one end and a clamp to hold it to the top of a doorway on the other. My older brother, Amik (Beaver), and T’Hana’s older brother often go bungee jumping together. Once they almost got hauled away to the police station because they got caught going to San Francisco from Sausalito on a bus and tying their bungee cords to a rail on the Golden Gate Bridge. Somebody from the Vulcan Embassy was crossing the bridge and stopped to talk with the police when he saw a Vulcan boy was involved. He drove my brother and Samit home.”
“My, your parents must have been upset."
“Yes. My brother was told “Gego miinawaa izhichigeken!” (Never do that again!). Both my parents and Samit’s thought the other boy was a bad influence on their son and almost would not let them play together anymore. Anyway, T’Hana and I almost didn’t get to play together any more either. But about the Jolly Jumper. We secretly bought one and hooked it up and put Samik in it when we were watching him while his mother was shopping. He is a year old and has strong legs now. He may even start walking in another six months when he has enough coordination.”
“Anyway he liked it at first. He got the hang of bending his knees and bouncing. That made him smile and squeal some happy noises. We said ‘come on Sammy, bounce higher!’ He did. Higher than my baby brother. Vulcan babies are sooo strong! He bounced faster and higher and actually laughed, until he hit his head on the top of the door frame. Then his eyes got all round and he pouted and cried out and reached up and pulled hard on the cord. It came down with a piece of the door frame attached. I reached down and pulled Samik from the chair and tangle of cording. He practically threw himself to me and clung like a barnacle. He was so strong for such a little guy. I could see a lump forming on the top of his head because he has very little hair yet. A drop of green blood was sliding down the lump. He had a tear in the corner of his eye. That made my tears flow and I whispered “Oh Sammy, poor Sammy.” Samik reached up one small hand to touch my cheek. He snuffled and hiccupped after touching my face.”
“T’Hana said ‘Give him to me. He has to learn not to initiate telepathic touch with everyone who picks him up. He is reading your distress and it is making him cry. He is old enough to learn not to touch like your mother is trying to make your brother stop sucking his thumb.’ ”
“T’Hana gently tried to pull Samik away from me. He resisted but finally let go. She touched his cheek lightly, then dropped her hand when she had strong eye contact. He seemed fixed by her stare and started to relax. T’Hana said ‘This is a meditative state initiation technique we teach babies. It helps kick in the natural Vulcan body healing ability. See? He is calmer now.’”
“Then her mother came home and we were in trouble. We got a lecture about not asking her which Human toys were ok for Vulcan babies. When I told Uncle Soval this story, he frowned and said we could have caused bad injuries to Samik. But then he turned away because I think he was trying not to laugh and said ”some cultural mishaps were inevitable.”
“That was quite an experience Omiimii, I hope you learned something.” Amanda was smiling. She could imagine Soval trying to maintain composure.
“ Gigawaabaamin, (See you later).” With an abrupt change of interest, Omiimii ran off down the walkway in the direction of Soval’s condo. Talking about Soval made her eager to see him.
Uncle Soval might be able to explain another thing about Vulcans which the story about the Jolly Jumper made Omiimii think of. It was something else T’Hana mentioned concerning Sammy. T’Hana said “There was something about the timing of the arrival of my younger brother. My mother was saying to my father that he should have extended his stay on Vulcan visiting his sick mother. Then the priestesses at the monastery could have taken care of his ‘problem’ and Samik would not have been born so soon. She would not have had to be concerned that Samik might not develop full Vulcan strength because he was born on Earth and would be spending his first few years of life in light gravity.”
T’Hana had written to her fiancé, Savok, about this. She said “He wrote back that it had something to do with us Vulcans being able to have children every seven years or so. When he asked his father about it, his father said that I should not be asking those kinds of questions yet. And he would be writing to my parents about what I was asking. His father was going to tell them that I was hanging around with Human children too much. And he had heard Humans had such interests at an early age and that was not healthy for Vulcan children. It would be good when our family’s time on Earth was up so we could come back home, because he felt he had a say in my upbringing as it affected his family too. Savok was just warning me that this would be getting back to my parents.”
Another time, T’Hana revealed: “Father said Ambassador Soval taught all new diplomats and aid workers that coming to Earth never is just a one way exchange. We would be getting new ideas and learning new things too – not just giving aid to a developing planet. He said we would not understand that yet, perhaps, but if we found we could not take this cultural exchange, it was best to tell him sooner than later so we could return home before an interplanetary incident occurred.“
The girls had been lying under the oak tree one day when T’Hana confided: “Well father wants to stick it out. But he is very uneasy right now. He said he committed to four years on Earth and he believed in bringing Vulcan ways to help improve other worlds. It would make the universe a more peaceful place and safer for Vulcans and everyone else too. ‘We come to serve’ is something he always says and we can endure a little primitive hardship to help those less fortunate than ourselves. Sorry if that sounds condescending to you Omiimii. I don’t feel quite that way. And my own children will be raised not to be so superior acting to other species.”
Omiimii soon let these thoughts go as she skipped along the paved walk in the early morning sun. Dew was still on the grass or she would have run straight across it to Uncle Soval’s condo. She did not want to walk on his carpet with wet feet. The well-trimmed grass reminded her of her father. Omiimii Sato’s father was grounds keeper in the Vulcan compound. The Vulcans liked the esthetics of Japanese gardens, which, in a way, reminded them of home. The Zen sand and rock gardens were especially appreciated. Kenichi Sato was skilled with all kinds of earth plants, and even tended well those imported from Vulcan. His bonsai collection attracted many Vulcans to his home within the compound. Some of them asked for his help in acquiring bonsai of their own. He even experimented with creating bonsai from native Vulcan plants. This delighted the diplomats who would be able to take a little bit of home wherever they were assigned.
Peering in the walled garden through the wrought iron gate, Omiimii saw that Uncle Soval was up and having his breakfast outdoors. “Na’shaya Ezyak” (greetings Uncle) she said in Vulcan.
“Boozhoo Agaasaa Omiimii" (Hello Little Dove), Soval responded in Ojibwe. You are up early and alert as a well behaved child should be. Come in and have some tea with me. Do you remember what I told you about Vulcan table manners?”
“Oh course I do.” Taking a seat across from him she said, “Vulcan table manners are nothing compared to the Japanese tea ceremony. I can’t do that yet, but when I can, you will be the first person I invite.”
“I am honored, Little Dove. Now fix us both some tea the Vulcan way.”
“Good,” said Soval. “Now tell me, do the Ojibwe have any ceremonies with tea?”
Omiimii pursed her lips, which was her sign that she was thinking hard. “Not that I know of. But I will ask mother. Of course, with any meal, the elders get served first. I guess you would be considered an elder. Humans fifty years old are. At what age would a Vulcan be considered an elder?”
“Let us figure that out.”
Omiimii groaned silently, knowing that another math problem was imminent. Uncle Soval was always posing these, trying to kick-start whatever part of the human brain dealt with things logical and mathematical. She had surprised her teachers. They had expected she would forever be in remedial math. It was so, so, hard though. But she would do anything to please Uncle Soval. “I think it would be something like this….”
“Try to be exact. Use positive words like ‘given the average life span of 250 years…”
She continued the sentence from his hint: “for a Vulcan and 100 hundred years for a Human, than a Vulcan would be an elder at age 125.” Omiimii smiled. She had gotten through this one.
“What if medical science increased the average Human life span to 125 years and the Vulcan life span to 275 years. Then at what ages would the Ojibwe consider a Human and a Vulcan to be elders? “
Omiimii thought a minute. “62 and 137.” She thought she had done that one well.
“You will have to do that faster. And you will have to be more precise. Say a Human would be an elder at 62 and a Vulcan would be an elder at 137. But enough of that for now. Drink your tea before it gets cold.”
The tea was good, she thought. I have earned it this morning, but he would have made endless problems out of that if I had answered wrong. Sometimes she felt so drained with this math thing. But when she was with Human children her age, she discovered she was way ahead in mental calculations.
After their tea, Soval had to leave for his day’s appointments. Omiimii was on school vacation and having no homework, decided to go see what T’Hana was up to. There had been talk of a virus going around the compound and T’Hana’s mother wanted her daughter to stay indoors. So Omiimii went home to see what her mother was up to.
Soval told his driver to head for the embassy but lapsed into silence because he was not feeling particularly well this morning. Perhaps he had been infected by that virus some newly arrived embassy employee had brought from Vulcan? There was some turnover at the embassy as Soval was as rough on the staff as he was on his Human counterparts. But that was his way of goading them all into a higher standard of performance. Soval sat back and lapsed into reminiscing of a younger Omiimii.
As a baby and then a toddler, Soval allowed Omiimii to touch him much as he had his own daughter when she was young. His hand always felt tingly and very warm to Omiimii. It comforted her. She felt his mood through that touch and he could always read hers. But as she grew older, he started explaining the Vulcan cultural rules about touching: not in public, even between close friends, mates, or parents and children. And never with strangers, it was impolite. Omiimii in turn taught him not to point with his finger when he wanted to draw her attention to something. He should point with his head, leading with his mouth. That was Ojibwe manners. They continued with mutual culture lessons and Omiimii, being so young, was becoming as comfortable with Vulcan culture as with Japanese or Ojibwe culture.
At age five, she had thought everyone made up their own language. Everyone close to her spoke to her differently. Her mother talked to her in Ojibwe, her father in Japanese, and Uncle Soval in Vulcan. Omiimii made up a language composed of birdcalls, dog barks, and cat meows. She even added some sehlat calls from a nature documentary she watched with Uncle Soval. He was the only person who took time to learn her language and use it with her. One day, he figured out why she had made it up. He then explained that languages belonged to groups of people, not individuals.
She did not quite believe that until her mother took her to her home reservation in Wisconsin for a summer. Omiimii played with other Ojibwe children, received her first Pow Wow outfit, and toward the end of the summer, danced in the Pow Wow at wild rice harvest time. That fall when she returned to Sausalito, she was six years old. It was time to start school. Uncle Soval had spoken with her father and it was decided she would stay in the compound and enroll in the Vulcan School. Only a couple of Human children had been granted that privilege.
Soval remembered the day he told Omiimii that he and her parents decided to send her to the Vulcan School. It was all part of his plan to see how well Humans and Vulcans could get along. His adult daughter had exceeded his expectations in this area. Now it was time to see how it would work with children. He had begun by playing a game with her.
Omiimii had been chortling with delight. Soval did not remember his own child being so fascinated with the game. It must be that a Human child, who could not move so fast, might think it almost magical. Just when she was catching on to which shell the pea was under, tracking it avidly, Soval would change the positions with Vulcan swiftness, almost beyond the capacity of Human sight. But sometimes she would catch him at it, especially if he were wearing his ambassadorial robes. The sweeping sleeves would give him away.
“You are Harry Potter.” She had addressed him that way on this day. “No, more like Dumbledore, the headmaster.”
“What?” asked Soval.
“Mom calls it a children’s classic. It’s a story about a school every human child on Earth wishes to be sent to.”
“Will the Vulcan School here in the compound do for you?”
“Do they teach magic there?”
“What do you think magic is? If you are thinking of the shell game, no. Though you might get the children to do it during study breaks.”
“Do Vulcan children play at the school?”
“Of course, though not always the same as Human children. You have played with them here in the compound already, haven’t you?”
“Oh yes. Sometimes they will play with me. I play with children a couple of years older than me. They know the rules better. Why don’t children my age know the rules? And kids my age, they seem…they seem… more emotional than me. You always are telling me to control my emotions but Vulcan children have trouble with that too.”
“Omiimii, you age faster than the Vulcan children. You see, Vulcan children with their very long lives, take longer to grew up. That is why you tend to play with the older children. Just continue to be patient. Play with each child at the level you perceive them to be. By the time you are in what Humans call your teens, intellectual maturity will be about equal. Then you can relate equally in about everything, except some aspects of physical maturity….which, well, perhaps we can talk about that then, though I’d rather have your parents deal with that. But learn to deal with different levels of maturity now. Learn that early, and someday you might do well as a diplomat.”
“Uncle, do you think I could be a diplomat like you?”
“It is likely. Learn languages. Play with children of as many cultures as you can. You are having a unique upbringing that will serve you well. People with your language skills and cultural knowledge are badly needed now that many worlds in this quadrant of the galaxy are starting diplomatic and trade relations. I know it will not be easy for you at the Vulcan School. Sometimes children can be cruel to those in the minority. But remember these struggles. They will help you understand xenophobic fears which we all must overcome if we are to have an orderly universe.”
“Ok, I will try. I always try. I want to be just like you when I grow up.”
Soval warmed to the child’s words. He looked around to see if anyone else might see him, then he gave her an almost Human smile. “My daughter said that to me once.” Then he sighed. He wished he could have his own daughter back as a child for just one day.
A sharp pain broke Soval’s revere. He became aware that he was sweating and his hands shook when he tried to pick up his portfolio to exit his transport vehicle.
“Are you alright sir?” his driver inquired.
“Actually, Vinik, you better take me back to the compound. I have the symptoms of this virus that has been reported and I do not want to infect any more of the embassy staff. I will teleconference from my residence with the people I wish to consult today.”
Omiimii had changed bedding, mopped up floors, braced people up and fed them, for twenty hours nonstop. She was a walking zombie, still going through the motions when Soval asked her to sit on his bed and rest a few minutes. He was lucid again. Pale and weak, but able to see Omiimii was done in. Dr. T’Fin stepped out of the room to ask a nurse to see about more medication. Returning to Ambassador Soval’s bedside, she noticed the Human child draped across the Ambassador’s legs, deep in sleep and snoring. “I will remove her.”
“Let her be,” said the ambassador. “If you take her somewhere else, someone will try to wake her up and make her clean up more vomit. She has done more than expected of a Human, and a child at that. I don’t want her to get sick too.”
“Damn Humans aren’t getting sick. Haven’t we done enough for them that they can repay us with a little effort and tiredness?”
“Doctor, you still are thinking of them in terms of ourselves. They are tough in their own way, but they cannot work effectively past twenty-four hours without suffering diminished work capacity. This little one has done her share. And I am fond of her. Her sleeping here is a comfort to me.”
“I see. Like a pet sehlat. Have it your way ambassador. I am perfectly aware of the benefit of pets on a person’s recovery.”
“She is not a pet, Doctor. She is as sentient as you or I.”
“I don’t argue with my patients. The sooner I get off this primitive world and back to Vulcan, the better I will like it.”
“The better I will like it too doctor. Let me know if there is anything I can do to speed your paperwork.”
After the doctor left, Soval was wondering what impressions his people were making all over the planet. But he took heart in the words of Omiimii’s brother Amik who one day accompanied his father to remove a dead bush near Soval’s condo. The teenager was wearing a T shirt with an early 21st century logo. It said ‘Homeland Security’ in large letters with a photo beneath composed of armed Native Americans. Under the photo in small letters was ‘fighting terrorism since 1492’. Noticing Soval’s interest in the T shirt, Amik said: “Well I must say first contact between Humans and Vulcans went much better than first contact between Native Americans and Europeans”.
The virus had run its course. Soval was trying to put a partial workday in order. Omiimii had slept for 15 hours. He had told her parents that he was watching over her and that she was sleeping so soundly, it was best not to move her. The truth was, he wanted to be the one who talked to her when she awoke.
Omiimii sat up and rubbed her eyes. Soval heard her, and turned from his desk. “How are you feeling little one?”
“Uncle, you are up. Are you all better now?”
“Much better. Here, have some tea and toast from the tray Amanda has left us. I want to talk to you after you have taken a little nourishment.”
Amanda peeped in to see Omiimii sleepily munching toast. “Have you told her?”
“Do you want me to stay?”
“No, but stay close by, she may need a female to hug after I tell her.”
“Ok, see you in a bit Omiimii” whispered Amanda, then she softly closed the door.
“Tell me what? What? Uncle Soval?”
Soval rose from his desk and sat next to her on the bed. He put a hand over hers and projected a sense of protection and well being. Omiimii was not fooled. Her stomach started to knot up.
“I guess there is no protecting you from this. No telepathic soothing is going to help much so I will tell you straight out. Your friend T’Hana has died of the virus.”
“NO! Not T’Hana!”
“I am afraid it is true Omiimii. It hit her family very hard though the rest of them will recover.”
“I should have been helping at her house too. Then she would not have died!”
“It is not your fault and there was nothing you could have done.”
“I want to see her! Her family will let me in. I have been there many times. Maybe they are still too sick to see that she may just be sleeping!”
“Little Dove, she died two days ago. Her body has already been cremated so her family can take her ashes home to Vulcan.”
‘Gaawiin! No, no, no!” croaked Omiimii, and she jumped off the bed, threw open the bedroom door, and dodged Amanda’s open arms. Omiimii ran down the stairs, through the walled garden, and across the lawn to her favorite oak tree. She was high up in its branches before she knew what she was doing. She was so high, the branch she was on threatened to break and drop her fifty feet to the ground. She sidled closer to the trunk until the branch held her weight without bending. And then, her body shook as great sobs caused her to be short of breath. She did not hear her mother, Amanda, and Uncle Soval calling to her from under the tree.
Soval was not fond of heights. His sharp vision spotted the branch Omiimii was clinging to, and he discarded his robe to grasp the lowest tree branch, shivering in his under tunic. Winona tried to stop him, with a restraining hand on his shoulder. “Wait for my husband to bring a ladder”.
“I am afraid she will fall. Has she ever climbed so high before?”
“No. We need a ladder and you are still weak from your illness.”
Amanda added her plea: “let me do this, you did not climb trees as a child like I did.”
“I have to do this. I was the one who told her and I should be the one to comfort her. And I did climb a few trees as a child”.
“On Vulcan? I thought the only trees of any height were the ones in the park devoted to off-world plantings and were protected by fences.”
“They were. That didn’t stop me.”
“So a mean old Vulcan grew up from a naughty little Vulcan.”
“As you say.”
Winona and Amanda knew Soval well enough to understand that they could not stop him.
“Miigwech, (thank you). Be careful,” said Winona.
“I guess this IS a job for a mean old Vulcan,” said Amanda. “But if you start to slip, I am coming right up there after you.”
Soval pulled himself from one rough branch up to the next. Half way to Omiimii’s perch, he paused to fight dizziness and the raw wind of an approaching storm. It took several minutes for him to reach Omiimii and brace himself between the trunk and a branch sturdy enough to hold his weight.
Soval was now at eye level with Omiimii. He reassured her with a quiet presence, giving her time to gather her thoughts before she spoke. “Uncle Soval, why do people have to die? I mean why so young? Why is life so unfair? I was shocked and jealous when I found out that T’Hana and Samik and Samit would live two to three times as long as me. And jealous that Vulcans were so strong and so quick at math. What was wrong with Humans? It took me a long time to realize there was nothing wrong with Humans or with Vulcans either. The universe was just the way it was. And there were some humanoids that lived only ten years and others that could reach nine hundred.”
Omiimii started to cry again. She wiped her eyes with the back of her hand and continued. “Once I accepted all of this, I expected things to happen a certain way and not change. We had it all worked out. T’Hana was going to distribute my possessions to my children when I died, so they wouldn’t fight over them like some families do. She was going to watch out for my children and my grandchildren after I was gone. Now my strong Vulcan friend has died of a stupid disease that I, a weak Human, was immune to. The world is all messed up again. I don’t understand it and I am afraid of it again.”
“Little Dove, you do, indeed, head straight for the highest perch when you are troubled. The universe is a scary place, even for adults, when they lose someone close to them. But those who are left have to help each other live on. Just being around, even asleep on my bed, you helped me recover from this illness. You and Amanda just being there for me to talk to helped me through the sadness of my wife’s death and that of my friend Admiral Forrest. And now we both should have a hot cup of tea to make us feel better. But not here in this tree and in this increasing cold. I am going to start backing down this tree and I want you to start down, staying within my arms’ reach.
Omiimii smiled through her tears: “ok”.
They climbed down, branch by branch, with their fingers getting scraped by the rough bark and numb from the gusting wind which shook the branches. Half way down, Omiimii slid into Soval and he lost his grip with one hand. Amanda was up the tree in a flash, bracing her arm against Soval’s back so he could regain his grip. Then all three of them backed the rest of the way down the tree. Amanda and Soval each held one of Omiimii’s hands as they walked her home, Winona walking behind, keeping an eye on the health of all three of them.
The next day, Soval called for Omiimii to visit him at his condo. He sat while she stood so he could look Omiimii in the eye. “You will come with me to T’Hana’s memorial service. I will help you through it by allowing you to touch my hand and I will pass calmness to you. Don’t cry in public like at Human funerals. T’Hana’s family’s emotions are very near the surface right now and an emotional display by a Human could undo their control. So follow my lead. When you greet them only say “I grieve with thee.” They already know that you do.”
Omiimii nodded, unable to say much of anything or she might loose control right now. “But won’t they cry for her? How could they not?”
“Of course they do. In private.” Said Soval.
Together Soval and Omiimii walked across the compound toward T’Hana’s home.
A week later, Soval was pacing the ground floor of his condo, thinking of how he would word a response to a request for a joint Human-Vulcan expedition to explore a newly discovered M class planet, teeming with non-sentient life forms, when he saw Omiimii’s father noiselessly enter and then leave, his walled garden. Curious, he peeked into the garden. There on the garden table was a bonsai tree, wrapped round with a yellow bow. It was a very old oak tree with a tiny clay bird on one branch and a humanoid figure perched on another branch. Using a magnifying glass, he discovered the little figure was reading a book with the title of “The Teachings of Surak”. Kenichi had a sense of humor in addition to a generous nature, for giving such a rare and lovely gift. “Now that is a tree of a size I can handle,” mused Soval.
Seven people have made comments
This is good.Please let them coming.Thanks.
Thanks for this story. I particularly appreciate the way you have shared some of your culture with us. It was a refreshing and engaging read!
This one was really fascinating... love the glimpse into Ojibwe culture. The "Homeland Security" joke was pretty funny, too. Omiimii seems very lovable. Did you model her after your daughter or one of her children?
Yes, Omiimii is much like my granddaughter, Imie, who is a jingle dress dancer. When you are a jingle dress dancer, you are supposed to be dancing to heal someone. Your dress is supposed to have 365 jingles, though you can have more on it. The jingles are heavy, but that is supposed to remind you of the seriousness and responsibility of being a jingle dress dancer. The dance steps are designed to make the jingles move and are more sedate than fancy shawl dancing but involve more movement than traditional women's steps. Omiimii was kind of a healer in the story, helping when all the Vulcans got sick, but that was not a conscious connection on my part at the time. But now I can see the association was there underneath.
Some people are now making jingle dresses with just a few jingles for very young girls, so tradition is not always strictly followed. My daughter got a jingle dress with only a few light jingles for her one-year old as a first dance dress. We did, however, follow the tradition of not letting Skyelar out on the dance floor until she could walk, though many people no longer follow that tradition either. That is said to be done because children must learn to walk as soon as possible so the adults do not have to carry them when campsites are changed. The adults have enough to carry with all the equipment which must be moved.
Imie is now 14 and just surpassed me in height this summer. She is now much older than Omiimii in this story, but resembled her when she was younger. Skyelar has very light skin and reddish hair, where Imie and her brother Dylan are very dark. We were surprised about that as the Native American genes usually are dominent in children of mixed heritage. I thought it interesting that in Star Trek lore, Vulcan heritage is also supposed to be dominent in people of mixed Vulcan/Human heritage.
The Homeland Security T shirt is popular right now around here. I have one myself but don't wear it very often to non-Native American gatherings because some people may be offended by it.
This story is an absolute treat! And I learned something about other cultures as well! Omiimii is simply charming. I do hope to read more about her and "Uncle Soval".
Offence is an emotion as Soval would say. We have a right to remind them of the wrongs done. We can forgive them but we can never forget. In remembering our past we honor those that paid with their lives to keep or culture alive and well. We are not Zhaoganash and we should not have to pretend to be.