The old woman peered out of the tent. She listened quietly, with her left eared turned up to the sky.
“Oh, I think it’s time,” she thought to herself, hearing the moans from the other tent nearby. Kokum got up from where she had been dozing in her little tent, under the shade of the big old spruce tree and stepped outside, closing the flap behind her.
She adjusted the kerchief on her head which held her long, gray hair back from her face. She hadn’t taken the time to pin it up yet this morning. Slowly, she walked over toward the moans that were drifting out in the early morning and floating over the warm June air, like mist over the muskeg.
“Hi Tommy. Where’s your dad?” she asked the little boy who came running to meet her. He was fully dressed, wearing the same white cotton shirt and brown cotton pants that he had been wearing the day before. His hair was sticking up in every direction giving him that mischievous look that suited his three-year-old personality. She always teased him about his “crow’s nest.” On his face was a big smile for Kokum as he ran to her and hugged her.
“He went in the boat. Mommy’s sick,” he yelled back casually, as he turned to run off to continue the game he had been playing with his older brother, Paul, down by the lakeshore.
Kokum bent and entered the tent, from which the sounds of distress and discomfort were coming. It was her daughter’s tent. “So, it’s time?” she asked.
“The pains are coming fast,” the young woman replied from the bed she was lying on, which was constructed of spruce boughs, covered by blankets. She moaned again as another pain rumbled through her body, like a volcano threatening to erupt. It had been a long night and she was very tired. The first pains had started hours before but she had not made a sound because she had not wanted to wake the boys who had been sleeping in Kokum’s tent or her husband, who snored loudly next to her.
Kokum helped her daughter get into a slightly more comfortable position, and then called to her oldest grandson, Paul, to make a fire and boil some water. Paul filled the large white, cooking pot with water from the lake and carried it over to the fire pit. He was an expert fire maker already by the age of nine, just as he was an expert fisherman and snare setter.
Tommy ran over to peak into the tent. He wanted to see what was going on. His stomach growled, reminding him that he had not yet eaten anything. Maybe dad would be home soon to make some breakfast.
“Mom, I’m hungry,” he whined. He didn’t know what all the fuss was about.
“Shhh. Just wait. I’ll make you something to eat in a minute. Help your brother,” Kokum told him as she gently pushed him out of the tent. She opened the window flaps and tied the door back to let the early morning breeze glide through the tent which would soon be heated by the sun.
Tommy knew that something was happening. He knew that his mother was not feeling well and she had told him that soon he would have a baby brother or sister. But he was not sure how all of that happened. He didn’t like it when his mother was sick.
Kokum was very calm. She had delivered many babies before and this was her daughter’s third child. Kokum had been there to assist with the first two, as well. She made herself comfortable in the tent which was still under the shade of the trees. It looked like it was going to be a warm summer day. No clouds in the sky, yet. But you never could tell; they’d had quite a bit of rain lately. It should be a good blueberry season.
—–to be continued….