Some adventures start out simple, “Do you want to help me make this little drum?” And so begins a long path into an unknown but magical landscape.
I suspect, not being a mother myself, that most almost 4 year old’s do not have a strong EEEWU factor unless they learn it from adults who have had years of practicing strong preferences.
They do, however, suffer from terminal cuteness.
So the deer hair comes off and the knife work happens to clean the membrane. Not really small child tasks, what with wicked sharp edges and tall sawhorses to work on.
For me, making something is always good hands work, and our hands know best when we do not name the form we touch. Just feel pure. Children are pretty much pros at pure feeling.
Fitting the drum skin to the hoop is one of those moments when everything that comes after depends on just the right amount. Not too much sag but not too much stretch.
There is something magical about true concentration.
Next the drum head is sewn on the cedar hoop with a rawhide thong and beads. Lots of holes to punch. Sometimes an enthusiasm of holes crowd ’round as only one–even though this is all that is required–would be lonely.
More ordinary time happens as the little drum dries to a deep golden brown. This was a Cortes Island deer taken by my granddaughter’s papa for food, and the dark colour is unusual. I am looking forward to making the larger drum that is in the remainder of this skin.
And then on a wildly windy day, with trees roaring and small branches occasionally skittering by, we put the handle in, and the finishing touches on the little drum.
More good hands drama as the dowel through the hoop gets only one fast chance to go straight, before the glue takes over and says STOP.
Everything wants to have the blessing of beauty, and so our final gesture to the little drum is a braided trim of doeskin, glued long the join between the hide and wood.
I said I didn’t have children.
So how can I have a Granddaughter?
Turns out we get to choose our family.
As well as be born into one.
And I choose Zyla May.