Loon Song

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The Loon Song

"We are just here on borrowed time. Let our spirit be free like the loon. Hear us echo through the forest. Beautiful, beautiful, world."

Mary Thomas, Shuswap

It will be a prayer to all our elders to remain strong and not to give up on the young people's future. Like the loon he still looks after the wilderness, it's a beautiful echo. That's why it belongs up in the mountains; just that beautiful echo brings that peace and calm. I can remember my grandmother she used to take us down to the river when we were just little. She had a sweat lodge and we would just go down with her. You know how it is when you are just small you don't value things. It's just play, play, play and she warned us if you see anything happening don't get scared, leave it alone.

We got in the sweat the first time it was to pray for ourselves to clean ourselves. The second time we go in was for our families. Pray for our families to stay strong, united. Third time we pray for all our community, our relatives, our people. The fourth time back in that it's for mother earth. Pray for mother earth. When we got out of there and every time we came out we had to in the river that was down in Chase, the fourth time out we got to stay in the water a little longer. And that's when the loon happened too, to swim up and under to come up just a little ways from us. Our granny told us "be quiet, just be quiet". And the loon started going around, pretty soon another come up and we all crowded around our grandmother and hung onto her. And she said, "It won't hurt you, just be quiet". And pretty soon another one showed up, they would splash their wings on top of the water and kinda walk on it. We were getting scared and hung onto our grandma, and she started that song low kinda singing. And they just started circling around us, splashing and she was singing that song. And we got so scared she kept holding us. All of a sudden it just came too close, we got so scared we ran out of the water and the loons went up and disappeared. She came out the water and said, "I told you not to move it wouldn't hurt you". But no we were standing there just shaking.

She was talking to the birds and they all just disappeared. Boy, we almost got a lickin. Yeah, I never forget that. And we tried to ask our grandmother, "How come those birds did that to us". And she tried to explain it to us. At the time I did not understand, and there was no way I was going to go down again. And, when she would mention the sweat lodge, I would find some excuse not to go because I was scared. And, I am really afraid always afraid of the water, I afraid of water I am terrified of water. I like to swim but I can't go out to the deep parts. I don't know, it's like that loon might drag me under. Her grandmother's explanation: That was her, her spirit was with the loon she was cleansing us. It's supposed to circle around you and take whatever is bothering us. She said we didn't stay long enough.

Long after and when she got real old and I became a young woman. I would remind her of it and she would hit me like that and say, "I bet you would never go and swim like that again". I said, "No, grandma, loon won't come near me". "Just give it time it will come". I've never had the experience hopefully someday the loon will take pity on me and come to me if I'm good enough.

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