Another Magicall Day on Chautauqua

Posted on Jul 05, 2024

A "typical day on Chautauqua" as described by Chris Leeming

Written Saturday, June 29th 2024

Another Magical day on Chautauqua or rather as one of our Elders suggested to us today, a Magicall day. A friendly reminder that being on tour is a call of sorts. An opportunity, a responsibility, a desire to reach out to others and build community in our own unique way.

So what does this look like? What is a “typical” day on tour? How do we engage interact and build communities?

Daily Board of Events

Well, that depends on many things, and everyone has their own perspective on what we do. But for me part of the journey is that we never know exactly what will happen on each day. Sure we have a rough outline, but the details, the journey, the interplay between tour members and community members, this is a large part of the magic that happens on tour.

So first off, as I am writing this a young Native girl is blowing bubbles that are spreading across the lawn in front of me, a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eyes as she is gazing at all of the beautiful things happening around her. I just got back from dunking my head and feet in the crystal clear cold waters of the Hoh river. Point is, I am currently basking in the Chautauqua glow of a life well lived on tour. Our bellies are full and our hearts are swelling as Morning Meeting was full of numerous stories of the beautiful moments we shared the day before. Each and every one of us knows how fortunate we are that we can slow down and enjoy the spontaneous and planned beautiful moments that happen on a daily basis for us. A collective sigh of contentedness passes through our meeting as someone reminds us of the beautiful sight we all saw yesterday: a young girl wobbling along the road as she bicycled home with a smile on her face and donated guitar strapped to her back.

Gathering with Friends at the Hoh in our Outdoor Kitchen

Geographically speaking we are currently camped on the Hoh Nation Tribal Grounds. Bald eagles have become commonplace soaring above our tents, and the afore mentioned Hoh river is a constant presence in our lives as the quick walk to the beach allows you to see it flowing into the ocean. We are here to support and contribute what we can to this annual Celebration, Hoh Days. Previous to today we have been cleaning buildings, stacking firewood and fencing off tenting areas for all of the expected visitors to this weekend long celebration. And of course seeking out opportunities to provide laughter and entertainment to those around us in typical NOTC style. Yesterday, that meant entering ourselves in the Boxing match.

Boxing Ring

Now I could regale you with a minute by minute account of the stupendous awe-inspiring power felt within the building as our resident clowns Chris Bricker and Faeble Kievman struggled to get through the ropes into the ring and the smiles on the faces of the children as these two duked it out in comical fashion. Furthermore I could describe the peals of laughter heard throughout as Faeble became entangled in a chair and had to force himself out of it to raucous applause from the audience, but since that happened yesterday, it is a tale to be told at another time. So back to today.

Amidst many other things, some of today’s activities are a chili cook off, guitar workshops, hula hooping workshops, collecting garbage, picking salmon berries, talking with the local vendors, washing dishes, smoking fresh caught salmon and collectively immersing ourselves into this community to help in any way we can. But even with all of these events, with all of these opportunities to contribute to the community, I often wonder, are we doing enough? Can we do enough? Are our interactions and service work truly helping, or just satisfying our own desire to think we are helping? These are tough questions and I ponder them often.

A quick glance at the Native girl blowing bubbles makes me think we are. Makes me think we do provide opportunities to build communities. And I realize that maybe I am spending too much time thinking about what we could be doing, instead of just doing what we do. Chautauqua is a time for reflection, and I am glad to spend some moments pondering the greater purpose of why we are here, but in essence what we do is help, in any way we can. For me, this is what a “typical” day on Chautauqua is: an opportunity to seek out big and small ways to contribute to the well being of others. Along the way I know that we collectively as tour members will also benefit from these experiences.

I hope to look for more of these beautiful moments throughout the day, the reminders of the importance of what we do, but right now I am being asked to spend the afternoon helping to smoke the salmon for dinner. That is especially the type of helping that I like to do.

Sunset at the Hoh

Written by Chris Lemming.  Photos by Mark Tanski and Julie Sokoloff