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As I Remember It: Teachings (Ɂəms tɑɁɑw) from the Life of a Sliammon Elder

Mink and Pitch

So as he goes along, he finds Pitch. Beautiful Pitch. A hot summer day, it’s a beautiful day. And he sees this fir tree, and the Pitch is just oozing and kind of running down the tree, and it’s really pretty and golden colour. And he goes up to it and says, “Oh! You’re beautiful. Beautiful!” He says, “Oh, I love you.” Says, “Can we be together? Can you and I get together and be a pair? Be a couple?” And Pitch says, “Oh, don’t be ridiculous. Go away! I don’t think so.” “Why? Why can’t we be together? I love you.” And Pitch says, “No, I don’t think so. For one thing, when I go to bed at night, when I sleep, I will sweat. And if you’re layin’ beside me, you’ll get stuck to the bed.” And what they had for a bed was cedar planking. So finally he talked her into it. So he told her, “I’ll just toss and turn. I’ll toss and turn all night long. And I’m not going to fall asleep, ’cause I know if I fall asleep I’ll be stuck to the planks.” So he was all right the first night. He was tossing and turning and just kept moving. The second and third night, he was totally exhausted, lack of sleep. Finally, he fell into a deep, deep sleep. And sure enough, the Pitch was melting and sweating in her sleep. And qɑyχ woke up in the morning and he was stuck to the bed. He was stuck to the plank. Planks on the bed right across his back, ’cause he had been laying flat on his back. And the board was right across his back. So, after trying to get up for quite some time, he could not get upright. He couldn’t stand up. Finally, he was able to stand up and get moving, thinking, “What am I going to do? How am I going to get this plank off my back?” Totally stuck to it. So he’s walkin’ along. He’s holding the plank just in case someone’s watching him, and he doesn’t want to be embarrassed. He’s so afraid that the kids or someone’s going to see him being stuck to this plank. So he’s walking along, pretending to be just out for a walk carrying a plank. He’s gonna go look for two trees that are together enough that he can run through and it’ll pry the plank off his back. And he’s walking along there and the children, of course, they come along: “Where you going, qɑyχ? Where you going? What you doing with that plank? What’s that plank for?” And qɑyχ says, “Oh, this is a plank I’m taking way over there – I’m gonna use it for something. I’m gonna build something. So you get going! Move on! Quit following me around. Go away!” So off he goes. He’s lookin’ for two trees close together. Finally he finds two trees that are close enough that he thinks he can take a dash through the middle, and that will pry that plank off his back. Which he did. Several attempts. He would just bounce right back and land on his back again. He would try to get up, and finally he would get up, and several, several attempts before he finally pried the plank off his back. So that was another experience for him. That didn’t work out for him. He still didn’t learn his lesson. It was the end of that relationship for him and the Pitch.

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