Niibin Solstices’ Truth-Telling (in Nostalgic, Negative Filters)
by waaseyaa'sin christine sy
In the spirit of summer solstice and odemin giizis (strawberry moon) I wanted to honour odeminan (strawberries) by sharing some things about my shifting relationship with them.
Over the past few years, I’ve grown even more appreciative to odeminan (heartberries/strawberries) for reasons beyond those we learn about in ceremony. The odeminan pictured here naturalized from one of my favourite meadows into a gitigaan (garden) I often visit. These are truthful berries that are grown directly by aki and I’ve become particularly attached to them over the years. Aki, for me, is a truth-teller. Like truthtruthtruh, closest-to-the-truth-that-can-be-kind-of-truth teller. This is one reason why I love aki so much and why this relationship with odeminan is meaningful for me.
For context, a few years ago, while walking in a meadow, I happened across some odeminan whose tiny size took me aback. I had forgotten what a truthful, or real, strawberry looked like; it had been a long time since I was last picking strawberries as a child. These berries were very, very small (gichi bungii), smaller than the size of a finger pad. I had also forgotten their texture: seedy (but not as seedy as raspberries or blackberries). They are much smaller than the ones I’ve grown used to over the years. The big grocery store ones. Instead of plopping one on your tongue you can take a bite from it. Sometimes these grocery store strawberries are hollow and I’ve seen recipes showing how they can be filled with custard or whip cream. Re-establishing my relationship with geget odeminan (real strawberries), has made me consider these larger berries in a different light: they seem to be made for profit–bigger so as to appear as more. As a result of all this, I’ve also grown my appreciation for the teachings around odeminan being our first berry that gives us medicine and how we only need one to support us.These truthful strawberries, which are the ones our ancestors would have been talking about, must be jam packed with medicine (pun so intended!).
Mostly, I was floored at how I had forgot about the truth of the aki as told through odeminan. I was floored by my own forgetting; by the truth of odeminan; and, by how far away from the truth the grocery store strawberries were/are. I was annoyed at the wealth generation model of capitalism because that’s why those strawberries are grown so big–to make somebody somewhere rich.
Anyhow, since this time of remembering, I try to make one venture out during odemin giizis (strawberry moon/June) to odeminke (pick heartberries) and share them around.
Today, I was able to gather some berries in two sizes: those from the meadow and those that had naturalized into gitigaan (a garden), which were a bit bigger. Perhaps the soil and taller grasses growing yielded more nutrients and shade? I’m going to give those field berries to a woman whom I know to be kind and whom I appreciate for her learning and sharing. I also like to share those berries with others in my life who I know have also forgotten about the true berry as well as children who I know who have never seen odeminan in it’s true form, grown from aki. It’s always amazing to learn that our young ones, many of them, only know the grocery store berry. It’s always amazing to see the quizzical looks on their faces when they see these small odeminan; when they learn they can eat the stems, hats, and berry; and, that this is the truthful berry aki grows. Many of them, and us as adults, have become conditioned to think our sustenance comes from the grocery store or fridge.
Sharing those berries with the kids and adults in my life today and sharing with them briefly about the truth of the land, as I experience it, was a ceremony of sorts for solstice. Being on the land, and coming back with some reinforced truths, and having something to share, for me, is ceremony.
Amiigawech niibinong gaa miizhyaang.