Column: Tea with scones and storiesDo you remember last winter, the one that seemed to linger so long? Last April, in the middle of that series of unusual late spring blizzards, we LeGarde girls and our out-of-state cousins communicated through Facebook about their planned trip to Minnesota in mid-August.
Do you remember last winter, the one that seemed to linger so long? Last April, in the middle of that series of unusual late spring blizzards, we LeGarde girls and our out-of-state cousins communicated through Facebook about their planned trip to Minnesota in mid-August.
They would be here for the Grand Portage powwow, and to visit
relatives and places and memories from our own childhoods as well as our fathers’. Would the snow be gone by then, we half-joked, and began to search the Internet for pictures of sunny, flowery gardens.
One that we especially liked was of a table set for a tea party. Anticipating eventual warm summer weather (and trying to imagine the snow banks gone and grass growing in the yard) we thought a tea party sounded like a fun occasion to look forward to.
Although our cousins relocated to out of the state and have lived far away since the 1950s, our families have remained close in spirit, and we have a lot of fun when they get to Minnesota for a visit. We enjoy hearing each others’ stories about our lives and what we are up to, and we especially like talking about the days when we were kids, and about our parents and grandparents.
This preserving history through the oral tradition comes from two directions: those who traveled to other places, and those who stayed in the area. It is really interesting how the stories have been passed from one generation to the next, which parts are emphasized in which families, and how the important and basic storyline stays consistent and true.
We had a great time with everybody while they were here, but when tea party day arrived, the guys considerately decided to go elsewhere and let the ladies have our own fun amongst ourselves (one of the girl cousins thought that the prospect of a ladies’ tea party scared them off).
And we did have fun: We set the table with a nice tablecloth and pretty dishes, with my sister Gail’s pink-flowered pitcher and the aqua-and-pink dragon-patterned teapot that I got for Christmas one year. We used our best plates for scones, muffins, little sandwiches and fancy rolls.
The nicest decorations, though, were the smiling faces of the lady cousins and my mother all around the table. It really was a lovely afternoon.
After tea time we went outside to take some pictures, and then the guys arrived. Somebody commented on the weather, what a pretty day it was, just perfect (and I think they meant more than just the weather).
And what a nice cool breeze. This made us think of fall, and of school starting.
The cousins thought they would take a drive to see the former Grant school, soon to reopen as the Myers-Wilkins Elementary School, that they had attended before they moved away. “Do you
remember ...?” they asked each other, about their teachers, about the house they lived in that was near the school.
“See you next time,” we said as we hugged, shook hands, and they got into the cars (it took two!). When will next time be? Perhaps next year; we would sure love that.
There is no Ojibwe word for goodbye. Instead, we say “Giigawaabimin” which means that we’ll see each other again. If we don’t, then we will some other time.
And that is, as we Ojibwe say, pretty.
Monthly columnist Linda LeGarde Grover is a professor of American Indian studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth, an award-winning writer and a member of the Bois Forte Band of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe. E-mail her at email@example.com.