Sometimes I am somewhere other than here and so is everyone else. Right now the spring is trying to break through. The time for telling stories is over. The ground has thawed. I will be calling out to the Thunderbird. He is as old as the earth, here since the times before the beginning. He follows the wind and the gray skies and rain beats beneath his wings.
I am seeking traces of his feathers, hidden in the highest skies above the yellow canyons, peering into the darkest shadows of the blue mountains and under the howling miles of raw, red dust the wind is chasing, racing under the sun, between the purple mesas. The dry season has whipped up sand and rattlesnakes and sharp clawed lizards. They are licking their eyes and watching for the beginning of clouds. The beetles are raging and protesting, seeking the shaded side of the dunes, calling for relief. Whistling for the Wind. Even the green, rusty cactus, too thirsty for flowers to begin, is failing. The black rocks are hot enough to burst. The sand itself is gray with thirst.
I have been advised by the Kachinas, who have already hidden themselves in the landscape, when I am calling to the Thunderbird I should wear a Mask so he will recognize me, even from far away.
The Mask has been around a thousand generations. Maybe even more. Maybe as long as the Thunderbird. They are old friends, Thunderbird and the Mask. I will be an old friend if I am the Mask. The Thunderbird will come to my call, will come to my village, will come to my door. I would not want to be mistaken for someone unknown.
So, I climb the totem pole and burn sweet herbs. Sing into the sky. I raise my hands the way the moon rises, and I put on the Mask. I throw handfuls of corn meal from last years crop high as I call, as an offering. The moon, the full moon, the Worm Moon, rises with me, moving the earth, raising the worms from their winter sleep to become a great feast.
I sing to the magic of the Thunderbird who will come with miracles and the village sings with me, dances, puts on wings and stomps the ground to wake the thunder, in case it is still sleeping in the Thunderbird. The villagers put the fires safely away and take out bowls made of hammered gold and cups of fired clay, painted with flowers and butterflies dancing for the Rain, laughing with the Rain, blessing the Rain.
Even though the Thunderbird is far away he hears the cups clinking together, the merry bells wrapped around dancing feet, the giant wing beat, the glint of gold. He smells smoking herbs and cornmeal. Remembers the Mask and years and years. Old friends and warm cheers. Good friends. Good times. Welcome.
The moon sets at dawn and Thunderbird arrives. A dash, a splash, a revelry of rain and mud, a flood, an overflowing, out going, over blowing wetness.
His first visit fills the cups, and the bowls, the troughs, the arroyos, the hopes, washing the village clear, dampening the dust, raising the spirits of the fields even though, when he is finished, he flies off into the growing sun. His job well done. The spring begun.
Then comes the time to change my moccasins and the Mask. Then comes, instead, the time for the fields to be reborn, the time we will plant the corn.