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Thursday, January 8, 2009

One of the things that I like about this piece So Between 2 is weaving Waterdog. Waterdog has a way of pointing out the between and its causal effects without trying. So here's Waterdogs story. If you don't know what a Waterdog is your probably not from Oregon. My husband not being from Oregon calls it a Salamander and or a Newt. I'd rather not know. To me Waterdog is Waterdog-no need for fancy speculation or name. He just is.

Waterdogs Beginning Story

There is no such clan as waterdog except in my head. There is no warrior or Indian named waterdog that I know of. There probably is, but they are a stranger to me. The whole concept is based on the blending of 2 cultures in which the borders were never quite clear unless I was with my other Non-Indian Grandmother. Waterdogs are little creatures in Oregon that don't look quite real. My husband says they are salamanders, but I don't know and really don't want to know. I don't want to lose the magic of not knowing. Joseph Campbell implies that we make up rituals for things we don't understand and endow them with magic because we don't know and fear the unknown. I think he’s right and who I am to question Joseph a man I met many years ago before his death. I love and prefer that innocence of not knowing. Waterdogs live in mud puddles and fugitive streams and puddles that are created with all the rain we get in the backwoods in the mountains of Oregon. As a child we played with them and kept them as pets when I visited my Grandmother. To adults they were real problems because they got into anything that had water and often swam up water pipes and died. But to kids playing in the woods they were magical friends. They always seemed attracted to children. Anyway, when I was a child my Grandmother and relatives would tell terrible stories of massacres and torture-reformation (Christian) and ethnic- and running to hide in the hills-some real-- some imagined. They would tell us not to listen, but of course we did. We were really far out in the sticks. We could hear the cougars screaming at night. And then the urge would come to go find the wood for the fire, more kerosene for the lamps, or water, or the outhouse, and we would be told to go by ourselves. We would plead that we were too scared and couldn't possibly go by ourselves. Grandma would look amazed and tell us we weren't alone because waterdog would protect us and be with us. It worked. I look back now and wonder how I could possibly have been so gullible to see and believe that waterdog could have protected us from cougars and other night terrors. But then again we also believed that waterdogs could shape shift and become Dragons and whatever. Water was one of the 4 elements of nature and we could control waterdog because he was our friend. My cousins and I had great philosophical and very rational discussions on just which powers and protections Waterdog offered. Looking back they make all most as much sense as our beliefs in the protections of the modern world.

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