(I like it read to me)
It was a powerfully magical force; the forest was. Bran first felt the hypnotic strength of it when he was a child of 3. He was just learning to walk in the snow. To aid him his mother picked him up and was carrying him in her arms through a thick grove of redwoods. It was a winter morning. The snowflakes were just beginning to fall around them. They came to the edge of the tree line that opened into a meadow clearing that was divided by a flowing babbling stream.
His mother stopped abruptly and froze. They both saw it at the same time. Everywhere on the meadow grass lay carcasses of deer, bear, beaver, and elk. They were laying sprawled out in every direction, rotting. Each animal had been stripped of their fur and left randomly scattered on the grass. Their naked bodies were exposed to the crisply cold, grey, cloud-filled sky.
Bran and his mother had stumbled into the white man's hunting camp. It was abandoned.
They had no choice. They had to cross through it to reach the stream and just beyond the water, the forest path. His mother lifted her chin and proceeded to walk toward the creek. She kept her eyes leveled in the direction of the path to enter the forest ahead. However, as they passed through the center of the scattered bodies, he rotated his head with his eyes wide in every direction. As he looked at the carcasses, he saw something strange. Small blue lights, the shape of large candle flames hovering above each animal. Within a few shuddering breathes he understood what they were, and it made him very sad. Tears fell.
His mother said, "Shhhh...don't look." He closed his eyes tight and buried his face in her black hair. She continued to walk past the bodies until she reached the stream. As she stepped through the ankle-deep water, he could hear the water splashing, and he felt better. She climbed onto the grass and walked to the edge of the forest.
She kneeled under the closest tree, put her son's feet on the ground and said, "Stay here. I have to do something."
She turned her eyes back toward the meadow, then looked back at him, kissed him on the forehead, got up, turned around and walked back to the dead zone with steady steps. When she reached the center of those lifeless bodies, she stopped, turned and faced the stream. She stood very still.
She sang. It was a hauntingly soothing song in her people's language. She was asking her grandparents, and her families of ancestors to come to join her. Her voice was rich and , and the melody caused him to become calm. She asked the ancestors to come and lift the spirits of these powerful animals from the frozen white ground and guide them back into the heart of the Earth. Her song said to them that the Earth, their mother loved them. She wished them to return home.
Her song words then turned toward the animals. She thanked them for living such a good life and making the Mother Earth proud. She apologized that people had not said the prayer of thanksgiving to their spirits so that they would know that it was time for them to step back into their Earth. She asked them to come into the light and let her people guide them home.
That is when he saw them. White images with the density of fog in the shape of men and women gathered forming a circle around her. They were singing with her. A gold and white light formed a circle around them. It went into the ground and beamed up like a tall tree until it touched the sky. The light grew brighter.
He noticed that the blue flames floating above the bodies moved toward that light that enveloped her. One by one, and then by threes, and soon by the tens the blue flames entered the tall pillar of light. The snowflakes fell, and soon there were no more blue lights. He watched as she opened her eyes. The beam of light and the circle of people faded.
She said thank you to someone.
She walked to the stream, took off her fur boots and rinsed her hands and her feet. Then she walked across the water toward Bran. She stepped onto the grass, and when she reached him, she kneeled again and said, “Come.”
The sadness in him was gone. His mother lifted him up into her arm and to her shoulder. As she walked into the forest, he peered back over her shoulder and saw no blue flames. The white snow was falling heavy.
Later that night in their cottage she noticed how he quietly sat looking into the fire. She asked him if he had been sad. He nodded.
"Was it the bodies of the animals?" she asked.
"Yes," he said. "I saw those little flames, and it made me sad."
She asked him what he thought those lights were.
"They were the spirits of those animals. They didn't know what to do. They were confused," he told her. "They were trying to find a way back into their bodies. I wanted to help them, but I didn't know how. Then when you created that light and those people came and sang with you, I felt much better. I saw those little blue lights enter the tree of light and I felt strong again. I knew that all those spirits were happy."
His mother smiled with wonder at all that he had seen.
“And then I heard you say, thank you. Who did you say thank you to Mama?"
Her hands held both of her son's shoulders so that his body faced her. She looked at him square in the eyes. She saw something glowing in them.
“I was thanking my father,' she replied, "and all my relatives for aiding me to assist the spirits of those creatures back into the belly of the Mother Earth.”
Her eyes did not waver from his. He felt like she was looking past his eyes and into his thoughts. Her eyes were seeing something or someone inside of him.