"Sky! Sky! I smell something burning! Come quickly!"
Sky dashed into the kitchen, a whirlwind of dark hair, white skirts punctuated here and there by leaves and dandelion heads. She held a yelping, wriggling furry bundle under her arm.
She rushed over to the source of the smoke now twirling gracefully towards the ceiling of the room.
"Oh, Mama!" Sky said, the corners of her mouth turning down as she gazed into the pot on the fire. "I ruined it! It's all burnt."
Lunette trudged into the room, throwing the blanket she had been folding over her shoulder. She fished out a knife from the drawer by the sink and went over to the fire. Looking into the pot, she could see that the bannock was indeed burnt. She skewered the blackened, smoldering mess in the bottom of the pan and lifted it high so that they both can see it.
Sky's lower lip began to tremble and tears rose in her eyes. "It's my fault! I didn't stay and watch it like you said that I should. Oh, I did so want it to be a surprise for them. Now it's ruined!"
"Never mind, love," Lunette said, pulling Sky into her arms and stroking her hair. "There's still time to make another one. Your father wouldn't be back until this afternoon and Little Wolf may not even come tonight at all. Don't worry, I'll help you."
Sky sniffed, but cheered up immediately.
"Good, Mama, I like it best when we both cook together," she said, grinning from ear to ear.
Lunette laughed and ruffled Sky's hair with her hand. "What the…" Lunette started, looking down quickly as she felt something warm and wet on her elbow.
"Oh it's you! Wicked creature! Take him outside, love".
"Oh, I promise Mama. He'll be good. Can't he stay here with us?" Sky smiled her most precious smile and Lunette sighed and relented as always.
"Yes, he can stay then. Only make sure he keeps out of the way! Now then let me finish up putting away the bedding and then I'll be back. Why don't you get out the oats and the pestle in the meantime?
"And wash your hands first!" Lunette said as she hurried back to the bedroom.
Sky washed her hands and climbed up unto the old wooden chair to the cupboards. She got out the oats and the sugar and the pestle.
"See, Shadow? The oats go into the bowl and then you pound it with the pestle stone. Like this."
Shadow sat on his hind legs, his eyes following her movement, up and down, up and down.
"Its hard work you know, but Mama said that I was old enough now to do it." Sky smiled proudly.
Shadow cocked his head and made a low whining sound.
"Are you talking to that wolf again?" Lunette asked, coming back into the room.
Sky laughed and stopped pounding for a minute.
"He's not a wolf Mama! Only half, Little Wolf says."
Lunette snorted, taking a wary glance at the pup, his tail thumping on the floor.
"Half, indeed! That boy and his surprises!"
Shadow was a grey wolf though his fur right now was a mixture of grey and brown. His eyes were a piercing blue. Jacques had agreed that when he got older his fur would lighten to a mix of grey and white and his eyes would change to a soft golden yellow. Like honey, Sky had said. Lunette had laughed at that.
Last spring, Little Wolf had arrived with the then two week old pup wrapped in a blanket. The hunters had found him alone, his mother probably dead in a trap. He had brought it for Sky as a surprise.
There were surprises for Sky each time he visited. Once a necklace made of Wampum, a pretty doeskin pouch, a lucky black stone that he had found while he was in the forest. The one that Lunette and Sky liked best of all was the sunflowers.
It was the second year after they had met. He had arrived for the fall visit, full of excitement about the surprise he had for Sky. He couldn't bring it with him though, it was a little way off he had said. The whole family set off to see the surprise, the men and Little Wolf talking and laughing together bringing up the rear. When they had gotten close to the surprise, Little Wolf had bound Sky's eyes with a woolen scarf. Soon they arrived at the spot.
Lunette had gasped in astonishment. Sky had torn off the scarf and taken a sharp breath in. There, in front of them for what looked like acres, were sunflowers. Giant green stalks and leaves and at the top, huge yellow flowers danced joyfully in the slight breeze.
Little Wolf and the men had laughed at Sky's delight. That was the thing that had finally won Lunette over, just seeing the look on Sky's face that day.
And she knew now the answer to what had bothered her about Little Wolf since the beginning, where he was from. Last spring, he had brought his mother with him. Morning Star, Lunette had taken an instant liking to her. She had explained everything to her.
"Come on Little Wolf, hurry!" Sky cried, already starting off without him. Shadow and Little Wolf came racing from behind the house, the wolf yelping in excitement.
"You wouldn't believe it, Sky," Little Wolf panted, his face lit up with excitement. "Shadow caught a rabbit!"
Sky's eyes widened in alarm, and she turned her head quickly, searching around him. Little Wolf laughed.
"No, he didn't bring him. I let him go."
Sky smiled and took Little Wolf's hand. "Thank you, Little Wolf," she said, looking him straight in the eye. Her eyebrows rose as she saw the same red colour spreading in his cheeks. He took his hand away hastily and looked away from her. She frowned. He had done that quite often recently. She would have to ask him about it.
Lunette and Morning Star walked ahead of the children, chatting as they went. Morning Star was a tall woman, quite a bit taller than Lunette and strongly built. She wore the traditional Wendat dress, a doeskin tunic, embroidered with porcupine quills and wampum beads. Her hair was braided in a single braid down her back.
"Your Sky's growing up quickly, eh?" she asked, turning to look at Lunette as they walked.
"Yes, she is. This spring, I made her the little pot for her to cook her food in. It was time you know." The pride in Lunette's voice was evident to all, and Morning Star smiled to hear it.
"Already time, is it? Children grow up so fast these days! Your Sky is already a woman!"
Lunette laughed, thinking of the bannock this morning.
"Yes, but sometimes she's still like my little girl," and both women laughed, remembering the two children they held as babies, who were growing up before their eyes.
Lunette glanced over her shoulder, looking at Sky and Little Wolf as they skipped behind them, hand in hand.
Little Wolf had grown tall, taller than Godfrey, and was strong and lean. Sturdy as a maple tree, Morning Star had said, which always made Sky giggle. Sky had grown too, and was almost as tall as Godfrey. Lunette secretly thought that she looked like a fairy from one of Godfrey's tales, tall, lithe with flowing dark hair and roses in her cheeks. Jacques had laughed at that, but Lunette knew that he agreed with her.
"Your boy's grown a lot, too." Lunette commented. Morning Star laughed gaily, the sound surely traveling to the two below them.
"Yes, and he's gotten handsome too!" Her voice lowered to a whisper. "All the girls in the village are after him, you know?"
Lunette's head whipped around to look at Morning Star. "Are they?" she asked in a quiet voice. "And what does he think about that?"
Morning Star let out a delighted chuckle and slapped Lunette's arm. "You know what he thinks about that! I know that you're not blind!"
Lunette let out a sigh of relief and laughed, turning her head again to look at the two behind her, talking and laughing with each other.
"They're not our babies anymore, are they?" she asks, her voice wistful. Morning Star shook her head, and they smiled at each other. It's the smile of the mother who knows that the time is coming to let her little one leave the nest.
"What do you think they're talking about?" Sky asked for the tenth time.
Little Wolf groaned.
"I don't know! Husbands? Home? Food?"
"They're talking about us, you know."
Little Wolf stopped short, causing both Sky to be dragged backwards and almost falling over.
"Little Wolf! Do tell me if you are going to stop suddenly!" Sky admonished crossly.
"Why do you think they're talking about us?" he asked, his brows furrowed. She noticed that same red colour sneaking into his face again and rolled her eyes.
"Because they keep looking back at us! Didn't you see?"
"Oh", he said, his face straightening as he nodded his head. "Yes."
He started off as suddenly as he had stopped, this time hauling her after him.
"Stop fighting, you two. It's time for us to make camp."
They set up the tepee under a stand of pine trees, the women tying the lines while Little Wolf made the fire.
Morning Star and Lunette started the dinner, while Little Wolf and Sky wandered off into the forest to gather firewood for the night. The night was comfortably cool, and the fallen leaves crunched loudly as they walked. It wasn't hard to find firewood and soon they had enough. Little Wolf spotted a large rock in the middle of clearing of pine trees and thought it would be a good place to rest.
They sat on the rock, side by side, their bodies sharing the warmth between them.
There was silence for a while as they both absorbed the scene. The sun was just setting, the bright orange colour still visible low in the west. The pine trees filtered the light so that only rays reached them, creating a pretty pattern on their faces. The ground was carpeted leaves of all colors; bright reds, oranges and yellows. The whole scene was a rainbow of colour.
"Isn't Wendake beautiful?" Sky asked in a soft awed tone.
"Yes," he said in that same soft tone. "Beautiful". His arm crept across to her shoulder and pulled her closer and her head drifted to lie on his shoulder. She didn't notice that he wasn't looking at the scenery when he said that.
After another two days, they neared the village with the sun just setting in the distance, its orange light bathing the scene in a warm glow. Sky and Little Wolf walked ahead of the adults talking and laughing together.
"How much farther is it? I'm tired!" asked Sky, her eyes almost closing.
"Almost there! I know the signs, you know? See that elm tree with branches only on one side? That was done by lightning, about five years ago. And see that outcropping of that rock looks a bit like a nose?"
Sky nodded and laughed. Little Wolf put an arm around her and tugged her close. He turned his head to look at her, his dark eyes sparkling.
"It's really near now. Race you!"
He gave Sky a playful shove and darted away through the trees. Squealing with delight, she flung down her packages, hiked up her skirts and started after him, Shadow yelping as he ran at her heels.
Lunette and Morning Star came up just in time to see the figure of Sky disappearing through the trees, her long skirts tied with a hapharard knot about her waist. They could both hear the clear tinkle of her laughter and his shouts as she caught up to him.
"Oh Dear!" blushed Lunette, hiding her face behind her hands. Morning Star laughed as she picked up the packages and they started after the two children.
"Kids eh?" Morning Star chuckled. "Well, never mind that, they're going to be grown soon enough. We're almost there!"
She stole a glance at Lunette, who had quieted. "Nervous about seeing it for the first time?"
Lunette looked over at Morning Star and laughed. "It shows, eh? Yes I am. Nervous and excited at the same time. I think about how happy my father and grandfather would be to know that our people didn't all die, that our culture lives still in Wendake.
Morning Star smiled and nodded.
Sky chased after Little Wolf, catching glimpses of him as he ran, his dark hair streaming behind him.
After a few minutes he stopped running and turned to look for her. She sprinted up, panting and laid a hand on his shoulder to catch her breath.
He looked at her, grinning, his eyes mischievous.
"You're awake now, eh?" His eyes narrowed, looking at her skirt and he snickered and reached over to pull it down, his hand lingering a little longer than necessary around her waist.
"Let's go, it's just ahead there, behind that hill."
They set off hand in hand, up the hill. The village loomed in the horizon, long buildings with curved roofs, set parallel to each other, all surrounded by a high fence made of saplings and vines. Outside the fence were fields of crops, corn, beans, squash, and sunflowers.
Sky stopped, her eyes wide.
"It looks just like Mama said!" she breathed. Little Wolf smiled and nudged her on the shoulder, pointing to one of the longhouses.
"And that one, see there, with the smoke coming out of the roof?"
Sky nodded, turning to look where he pointed.
"That," he said with a proud grin, "is our house where me, Mama, and Grandmother live." He shot a quick glance at her, and then looked away when she caught his eye. "You'll live there too, while you're visiting."
Sky laughed in delight and grabbed his hand again. "What are we waiting for then? Let's go!"
The two ran headlong down the hill, their shouts of joy echoing through the quiet valley.
Hello all :)
I'm sorry it has been so long since I updated. I will update regularly from now on, about once a month. It will make me very happy if you leave me a little review when you've finished reading.