What’s All the Excitement?
Today we had our first ever Sweat Lodge in my backyard. It’s been a long time coming. I went out this morning to move necessary items into the backyard, things like rolling trash cans full of blankets and sheets, along with ceremonial objects in baskets.
Bossy, Lucy and Ethel came running to the fence cackling and clucking every time I brought something else out, obviously thinking the containers were full of food for them. I reminded them I’d already cleaned their house, fed and watered them. They were sorely disappointed when I lined the fence with all the containers and left.
When folks arrived to attend the Sweat Lodge the girls were introduced to a whole new cast of characters. The girls were so well-behaved, strutting back and forth along the fence. “What’s going on out there?” asked Bossy. Lucy clucked, “What did you bring for us to eat?” Ethel just watched, which she’s prone to do.
The Sweat Lodge fire caught slowly, creating a mass of billowing smoke that rolled across the ground this way and that, directed by the wind. The girls went behind their house until the smoke cleared. I thought I caught the sound of chickens coughing back there. I know I was coughing and my eyes were watering. Fortunately once the fire took hold the smoke subsided.
The girls didn’t run around squawking when we were putting the covers over the Lodge, even though I expected them to since it’s right by their area and they typically freak out about anything new, and you’d expect them to be upset by the flapping twelve-foot long pieces of black felt. Maybe it’s because we stayed outside their yard?
With the Lodge covered, we crawled through the small door in the East and held a Pipe Ceremony. The girls talked quietly amongst themselves, wondering what we were doing in that weird, round place. They didn’t complain about the joyous drumming and singing. What did I expect, for them to join in with us? After the Pipe Ceremony, we sat around a while waiting for the stones to heat. It was a gorgeous spring day, really perfect for sitting by a gentle fire.
The Lodge was beautifully hot, stones glowing red in the stone pit through each of the rounds, creating abundant steam when the water was poured over them. Every time the door was opened, the steam swirled up and out the doorway, giving us a little gust of cool air in return.
Even with four rounds of drumming and singing, door sailing up with the breeze and puffs of steam escaping, the girls acted like there was nothing out of the ordinary happening. No sky was falling. No intruder trying to murder them. They just took it on the wing like pros.
The change in energy as we shifted from Ceremony to dismantling and putting the Lodge away the felt fluttering as we draped it over the clothes line, blankets flapping as we folded them, sheets undulating as they were whipped off the ground and piled for washing none of that seemed to make any impression on the girls whatsoever. They just watched us.
After everyone who attended Lodge left, I went grazing for the girls. I know how much they like their grass and weeds picked fresh from my garden. They ravenously attacked the greens like they hadn’t eaten for a week. I took a peep inside their house to see if they had laid any eggs during all the Lodge hoopla. I wasn’t surprised to find the nest empty. Even though their normal egg laying time of day was past, with all the stress they must have experienced having all that commotion near their yard, I’m sure laying eggs was the last thing on their minds. Bet they lay eggs early tomorrow.