August 13, 2008




To read previous parts of Rainbow’s End click: RAINBOW’S END Part 1 and/or RAINBOW’S END Part 2

     He separated from the others, who continued their journey without him. He could follow the rough path later. Lowering himself onto soft pine needles, he saw a stunning stand of Mountain-Laurel under a nearby canopy of maple leaves. He sipped a small cup of weak tea to sooth his body, sore from the trek. Refreshed, he lit his pipe before symbolically depositing his pain in the thick, unpassable Mountain-Laurel branches and inhaling hope from the slight scent of a myriad of blossoms. Watching the smoke swirl upwards, he saw visions of a future for the first time since the loss of his family.

     As Rushing Waters reached into a bag for a pipe he’d carved out of Mountain Laurel wood, he turned his eyes to the campfire he’d built from the shrub’s kindling. No
embers posed danger of starting a forest fire. Fortunately, recent rains were a further protection.

     As Rushing Waters relaxed, his thoughts began to wander. He recalled the balmy days and cool nights that welcomed him as he descended Laurel Mountain and hiked enthusiastically toward Loyalhanning in the spring of 1743. At the bottom of the mountain he’d joined a small group in temporary shelters.

     Settling in, he explored the region, seeking healing herbs, including Mountain-Laurel leaves. The Lenape herb-gathering ritual obligated him to leave the first plant he found untouched, a difficult task since the plant was so plentiful. After designating one as first, he buried a small amount of tobacco in the earth on its east side. Then he took his favorite pipe, filled it with tobacco and lit it. The ascending smoke carried his intercessory prayers to both the Creator and the spiritual forces governing vegetation. The ritual completed, he gathered the Mountain-Laurel leaves necessary to provide remedies for his people.
     While crushing the leaves into powder, Rushing Waters raised a two-fold prayer to the Creator, seeking blessings for and effectiveness of the herbs. Then he cooked a mixture of the leaf-powder and bear fat in a small crock over an open fire, making a salve that would soothe the sore, inflamed joints of the elderly, whose fingers were often as gnarled as the Mountain-Laurel branches. The salve was also useful for many skin diseases.

     Rushing Waters also used the leaves to prepare an internal remedy that acted as both an astringent in active hemorrhages, diarrhea and flux and a sedative. Remembering his grandmother’s dire warnings about its poison, he used it cautiously. He wanted the medicine to heal, not kill.

To continue reading RAINBOW’S END, click on RAINBOW’S END Conclusion.






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