Grandfather makes flutes, meticulously crafted with devotion and hewn with an old knife, then to be polished with alternating stones.
He’s not interested in marketing them and restricts his flute making efforts to his grandchildren.
Let a new one arrive and he’s making a flute with an eye to the future, each with a totem carved into it directly related to the individual child.
In addition he hand stitches a soft leather tote for them and women add beading, quills, or whatever he thinks is appropriate, all with a specific meaning.
To say grandfather’s efforts are a labor of love isn’t inclusive enough, they are also an act of preservation – fashioning an object whose lineage runs back for generations linking past to present.
Grandfather is something of a virtuoso when it comes to playing the flute, and there is nothing more haunting, more compelling, than to hear his songs carried along on a breeze in the stillness of the night.
His repetoire is such he has a song for just about anything, from a lullabye to soothe a child to sleep, to a song for the living growing things planted each spring in the garden.
Something of a pied piper in his own right as the first few notes bring children running and cause adults to pause and listen.
Birds are often enticed as he mimics their songs while they draw near and respond – at times the results bear an unmistakeable resemblance to that dueling banjos scene in the movie Deliverance as riffs are exchanged.
I mentioned once it might be a good idea to record his songs, easy enough to do on a computer – after thinking about it a few moments Grandfather replied he thought it better if they were recorded in the hearts of those he loves and little ones who in turn will play them for others, that it is the way it has always been.
Grandfather’s flutes, artifacts as surely as anything an archeologist might discover.