The Fever

It was the coldest winter on record in Toronto. She stepped out into it, sleeveless, with her long, thick hair pulled up into a loose bun. It was the first time she felt the heat rise within her, radiating like solar flares. The pedestrians, peering between the sheets of ice and the fur of their parka, hardly noticed her.

The ground began to melt beneath her feet, becoming a crystal clear mirror of past, present and future. Her ancestors had stood in this very same spot hunting caribou and collecting mushrooms. She tilted her head back to see the night sky open and the illuminated celestial beings looking back at her.

Then everything went black.

Her sickness grew and grew as she became less and less in rhythm with the ways of nature. Worldly desires created an imbalance in her since moving to this maze of underground concrete and steel. She lost her way.

Growing up in Oklahoma, Seneca was taught the ways of the land by her grandmother Giyando. Seneca and her older sister would collect anything growing along the river with their Grandmother, studying carefully each rhizome, frond and sporangia. Fruits were gathered for the living, the sick and the dying and for winter reserves.

On the farm her grandparents cultivated a dozen types of beans, a multitude of squash, and her favorite corn. She learned how to count using the male tassels of the corn and used the silk for her doll’s hair. This was the only life she knew, and it was hers.

Eventually, Seneca’s fever broke with the syrup that her mother made from elderberry collected along the river banks.

Returning to Oklahoma, she visited her grandmother’s grave covered with wild strawberries. She knew that she was home.