A Pow-Wow

It’s summer and the kids have a friend over and they’ve told us – the parents and the baby – to go back inside the house.

And lock the door.

Another friend has come over, the neighbors’ boy. All four are playing Indians in the back of the garden, in the wild area of fallen branches, pine needles, weedy bushes and sandy mounds and hollows, and a view of the forest stretching out behind our house.

It is warm under the noon sun.

The children have tied bits of colored string around their heads and poked in feathers. The feathers are pointing up – and sideways on my son, the three-year-old. The four are sitting on stumps of firewood around what will become the fire tonight, they say. They’ve tossed pine cones and branches into a circle marked by the stumps.

Then they rise and start circling around the pit, hopping and hooting. You can almost hear the drums of a real pow-wow.

We are warned again to turn back and go inside.

“We’re good Indians,” the eldest says. “But there are savages out there.”

She points out and into the forest beyond our home, where the bats fly at night and the stray dogs and wild animals run.

They hopped and hooted and danced and jumped around the pit.

It seemed all very idyllic, so very Swallows and Amazons. Hopefully not a preface to anything like Lord of the Flies.

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