Friday, March 29, 2013
The Turquoise Bead
Friday March 29 2013
It's rather ironic that a person who's deathly afraid of lightning can't hear thunder. When I can hear thunder, it's already too late and I am much too close to the lightning. (And I can't always depend on my riding partners… they know I'm afraid of lightning, so they don't always mention it when they hear thunder, thinking they might be doing me a favor.)
With the absence of one sense, however, I have learned to use my senses of sight and intuition to recognize thunderstorms by interpreting the aspirations of clouds: by the color, the size, the shape, the intent.
Even the slightest inkling of a section of a poofy cloud of a possible thunderstorm, and my neck hairs are alert and ready to stand on end, and the cloud is guilty before proven innocent. I can now sniff out and spot a thunderstorm and its direction of travel two states away.
Knowing I like to read, and knowing I'm afraid of lightning, my aunt Carolyn sent me a lovely book, The Anthropology of Turquoise, and pointed out a part mentioning that traditionally the Navajo wore a turquoise bead in their hair to protect them from lightning.
Seeing that I have been caught out totally exposed in half a dozen terrifying (to me) lightning storms, and seeing that I still can't seem to avoid encountering lightning storms here in Owyhee on horseback, I contacted my friend PJ, who just happened to have some real turquoise beads, and she sent a handful to me and Jose.
I tied a tiny turquoise bead onto Jose's bridle, so that we never go on a ride without it.
But after riding Mac yesterday with 2 very suspicious-looking dark rain clouds near the end of our ride (but no turquoise bead on Mac's bridle), and after riding Jose today into another almost-suspicious rain shower cloud (with a forecast of 20% chance of scattered thundershowers), I got to thinking.
I wondered if a bead tied to the bridle would even work, or does it have to be tied to hair? If it does work tied to Jose's bridle, will the turquoise bead protect us both? Does the bead have to be in my hair? Does Jose have to wear one in his hair too? Or does it even work for white people anyway? (Or at least white people interested in and respectful of the Navajo culture?)
Further investigation says a turquoise bead was fastened to a lock of hair to safeguard against snakebite (which would also be handy here… I was almost bitten by a baby rattlesnake in Brown's Creek Canyon last fall, and I encountered a record 10 or so rattlesnakes last year).
It's already that time of the year with the unpredictable spring weather - wind, rain showers, heat, freezing temperatures, spitting snow, and thunderstorms.
I think to be on the safe side, I'll just dig out those other turquoise beads and add two more to my daily riding gear - one for my hair, one for Jose's hair. Between those 2 turquoise beads and the one permanently attached to his bridle, we might stay safe. Can't hurt, and it might help!