Waking in the dark, the sun not yet lighting the where the land meets the sky, I build the fire and begin my work for the day. I step in line beside my sister in law as we walk the path down to the stream to begin collecting water for the day. Each day since we have come here the dirt along the path has become smoother, beaten down by the repetition of our feet as we women come daily to draw from the water source.
When we once more move on to follow the herds as the season changes, the smooth expanse will be left behind to be swallowed once more by nature. It has been our path for a small time but has always belonged to nature, who will reclaim it once we are gone. Though each day we walk together, the early morning walk to the stream is largely silent as we each think of the daily tasks ahead. This morning, I quickly run over my tasks for the day, allowing extra time to help prepare the buffalo if the hunt is successful.
A successful hunt means more work today but peace of mind as well since I know we will not go without. For now though, my task is simple – to gather the water as I do every morning. The first thing I do this morning, as I come upon the stream is to step out of the worn moccasins that will encase my feet for the rest of the day and let the cool water rush between my toes. It is here that I watch the sun begin to color the sky, changing from dark to day.
Between the water needed for cooking and cleaning, there will be several trips this morning to the stream. On the third trip to the stream, I hear the splashing of the boys bathing and playing at being warriors and begin to hurry. My sister-in-law is no longer by my side but back beside her own fire, preparing the morning meal. I hurry up the path noticing that the camp is now fully awake, as my two boys rush past, impatient for a full belly before going to tend to the horses.