Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Lewis and Clark Two Hundred Years Later

Probably everyone has experienced walking up to two women excitedly talking about someone else's lives and listening in trying to get oriented and figure out if you know these people who have such dramatic happenings going on. Then you find out the two women are talking about the latest development in their soap opera.

At our house right now, we must constantly realize that no matter the topic, when Gerald joins in the conversation with an appropriate anecdote or observation that he is talking about William Clark and Meriwether Lewis. He is so into their adventures two hundred years ago that he is making the men very real to all of us.

He is fascinated that these scholarly men--truly brilliant men--spell words several different ways in one paragraph. So he likes to share their spelling with us too. He is amazed at their medical practices, which the rest of us don't always feel make the best meal-time subject matter. But most of all, he is impressed with the the hugeness of their accomplishment going into uncharted land and finally reaching the Pacific Ocean despite illness, accidents, hardships unimaginable today, and extreme dangers.

They were accompanied on their trip by Sacajawea (also spelled Sacagawea and Sakakawea by some people and probably other ways). It can hardly be considered anything less than providential that she was along. She had been kidnapped from her Shoshoni tribe by the Minnetaree Indians on the Great Plains. A French-Canadian trader named Toussaint Charbonneau, who lived among the Minnetaree, bought her as a wife when she was 13. Lewis and Clark recruited them for the expedition and their son Jean Baptistte or "Pomp" was born on the journey. It was from the Shoshoni Indians that Lewis and Clark knew they must obtain horses when they left the rivers behind and had to cross the Great Divide. Amazingly when they met up with the Shoshoni, Sacajawea recognized the chief as her lost lost brother. They got the horses. Her parents were dead and so was her sister, but she was able to immediately adopt her sister's son. Clark much later took in Sacajawea's son to live with him in Saint Louis so Pomp could obtain an education. What a story!!!!

Although they were only here through lunch yesterday, our son-in-law Rick and our granddaughter Leslie got to hear quite a bit about Lewis and Clark the same as the rest of us. Rick had gotten out of bed early despite the few hours' sleep and taken the van to be checked out. As he thought, it was just a mis-cueing warning light and not a problem, so he felt comfortable for them to continue their journey to Nashville. While I fixed lunch, Gerald took Les and Samuel up to see their cousins Erin and Geri Ann yesterday morning, so that was neat. Erin got another of Leslie's songs recorded to share with roommates back on campus.

I'd managed to take the children's presents and hide them at their Freeport home, but we hadn't gotten Jeannie's and Rick's presents to them yet. So Rick brought in presents for us and took theirs. One gift he carried in was a huge wrapped box that turned out to be Cecelie's handcrafted martin house project. With the help of her mother, I am sure, Cecelie had done quite an astounding research job, excellent paper and beautiful poster plus made the model of a multicompartment martin house--all for a first grade project. Gerald and I also got a clay-like molded bird made by Cecelie also--mine was a yellow finch and his was a blue-black purple martin. My living room coffee table is now decorated with a rather large cardboard accessory, and Jeannie's problem of what to do with the painstaking martin house creation is solved!

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