It is a hot August summer evening and I’m sitting at the kitchen table. The sound of the flies buzzing around the black garbage bag and the smell of the rotting potato peels inside easily motivate me to get up off the chair, slip on my Birkenstocks and walk down to the garbage bin. I hold my breath as long as I can while making the trek down to the bin, as the smell is pungent and powerful. At last, I swing the bag a few times back and forth to gain momentum to aloft it into the tall blue garbage bin. I brush my hands together to dust off any germs and dirt.
I make my way back to the house. I’ve walked this path what feels like a million times over the 30-plus years I’ve lived here. As a kid, my delegated chores after dinner were to take the garbage out to the bin. I can confidently say it was the same routine every day: 38 steps, the caragana bushes on the right, red crunchy shale below my feet, three big potholes, the three rock gardens on the left, and past the smell of the chicken coop. In fact, I could walk this route to the garbage bin with my eyes closed and find my way safely there and back with confidence.
However, this particular hot blistering summer evening, something is very different. As I make my way back to the house and approach the last rock garden on the right, before making my way to the last step to the back entry, I am blinded by a beam of light. A rock the size and shape of an inflated football is sparkling so intensely that I can’t ignore its rainbow patterned iridescent shell, nor the fact that it speaks to me loudly and clearly in these words: “Look at me,” it says. “I have been here all this time waiting for you to see me at last and identify what this means for you moving forward.”
I know right away this was an iniskim (Buffalo Stone) and what an incredible and honourable moment this is for me. It was only a few weeks prior, during my Master of Education program Niitsitapiisinni: Real Peoples Way of Life, where I learned the significance and power behind possessing one of these stones. These buffalo stones are the remnants of ammonite or baculite. They come in the shape of a buffalo and are said to possess unique properties. Blackfoot legend tells us that the first Buffalo Stone saved an entire clan of starving people. This stone is strong medicine. It gives its owner great power with buffalo. The person who succeeds in obtaining one is regarded as very fortunate.
The fact that this Buffalo Stone had been living in that rock garden all these years and never revealed itself to me is a true lesson in patience. It tells us that timing is everything, and that everything happens for a reason.