Almost every Saturday in the Western Mountains of Maine we find a festival. Every town, and has its special doings, drawing summer people and locals together to celebrate. Last week in our Town it was the Art Fair. Every year it expands, this year into surrounding venues near the village center—which were not yet open when we biked early morning to watch the Common ready itself for delicious handmade work (in both metaphor and real taste).
Setting up, some parents had children to shepherd. The little girl is playing hide and seek with her brother, after they were told not to separate. 🙂 I hope they did better on the injunction to cross no streets!
Next week it’s to be Molly Ockett Day, celebrated in honor of the “Indian princess,” based on the locally and historically famous wise woman, storyteller and healer, who roamed the mountains of Maine and New Hampshire 250 years ago.
I used the history of Marie Agate, (her baptismal uncorrupted name) as a template for similar storytelling in The God’s Cycle, a series of novels of the fantastic set in and around the fictive town of Gottheim, Maine. Here’s a scene portraying the event in Gott’im (as the locals call it).
Moving majestically above the parade, the dark Angel
matched her pace with that of this year’s Jasper Mary, the Angel’s
namesake riding below. The girl sat restive, astride a dancing brown
pony, its halter trimmed in the dark feathers of ravens. Like some of
her predecessors, the girl was part Indian, a fourteen-year-old whose great
great great great great grandfather had once posted tokens at portages
between lakes to the north. But this knowledge was now lost to the
girl who rode tensely, trying to keep her ahistorical mount without a
loss of dignity; but finally slithering in agitation to the pavement
before Cross’s Hardware. She loosed the reins, determined now to
walk flat-footed to parade’s end in her moccasins.
Now the dark Angel above felt an added weight of glory descending behind. She glanced quietly back at lucent clouds approaching, a great multitude of witnesses descending toward the crowd. This vast throng, full of faces, pressed above her, watching with the same austere attentiveness of Jasper Mary herself. Pressing gently upon the hometown scene, the great cloud of watchers shed a quality of fullness upon its descendants below.
The true Jasper Mary, who descends from Jasper Mountain each year to see her parade, now lowered toward the dismounted girl, speaking some quiet words in the Abenaki tongue. Immediately the girl reached out and took the pony’s reins again, throwing herself upon its back. She sat straight, tangling her fingers in the pony’s black mane. The aura of the crowd on either side swelled with whistles and applause. The little pony and its rider went dancing along Front Street, the ancestors of all looking on from above.
Here’s the excellent resource from which I learned much about my model: