Monday, June 26, 2017

Sign of the Firefly

We just returned from our annual trip to New Mexico so I could attend the board meeting of The Cuyamungue Institute.  Last year I was greeted by a new structure (almost finished) that Paul had built with the money donated by Rae LeCompte's friends.  I wrote about this structure, Rae's Firefly last June.  This post will be the second part of the story.

If you had read the other post, you know that Rae's Firefly is a structure built for people to have a place to smoke.  This is the only place smoking is allowed at the institute as it is a desert area and at high risk for fires.  Rae would sit out at a table under a raggedy umbrella when she wanted a smoke. There was never enough shade to protect people sitting with her as the umbrella was usually hanging to one side never wanting to click into place.

 It was quite the pathetic area, and yet, that is where people gathered.  Rae was a people magnet and there were always vibrant conversations, colorful language and lots of laughter.  Too often though, the brutal sun caused short discussions during the day.  Once the sun set behind the Jemez Mountains the Firefly was the unofficial meeting place.

I was afraid that in a few years people might forget the story of Rae's Firefly and that it would become just a place where people could smoke.  What we needed was a sign.  This is where my two talented friends saved me.   April 28th is when I got the idea about a sign.  Who could help me make a sign?  Well, no....who could make the sign for me. Bambi and Pottsy!!  I sent them a text asking if they had time to do this.  Within a few minutes I received answers from both that they would love to make the sign and would donate it.

                  What kind of design would look right?  Here is a picture of the structure.

Paul and I playing guitars at Rae's Firefly
 The sign would have to fit the area.  Most of the pictures of fireflies that I found were either cartoon characters or pictures of actual firefly bugs.  I was getting frustrated until I discovered this picture.

 (I don't know who designed this and would love to give them credit but I can not find it now.)  It was perfect!  Rae always wore a Zuni bear necklace and also carried a small bear fetish.  There is also a bear statue at the institute where we often go for group pictures.

One side of Rae's necklace.

This is the side Rae always had showing.  If you
look carefully, you can see some of the stones
are missing.  

Bambi and Pottsy set to work.  I knew I had not given them much time, but they are miracle workers and soon called to set up a lunch date at Henry's in Kenton, OH where we often meet.  It is a halfway point for us.  After a fun lunch and getting updates on each of our lives, I finally got to see their creation!  Oh my, it was perfect!

Bambi, Pottsy and me holding Rae's Firefly sign.
 They also had a cute cartoon firefly on the back corner that said, "Snuff your butts."  They told me that coyote sneaked in when they were making the sign and "made" them put that little cartoon firefly on the back. (Coyote is known as the Trickster in many legends.)
This was just so cute I had to post it twice.

How fortunate am I to have two talented friends like this?  Of course, they knew Rae and loved her like so many of us do.  Thanks to Bambi and Pottsy, we now have a sign for Rae's Firefly.  I have to disagree about the Coyote energy though.  I think there was also a bit of Rae's energy guiding you to paint that cute little firefly on the back of the sign.  I can hear her gravelly laugh now as her spirit smiles at Rae's Firefly, happy to have a place where friends and students can gather to tell stories and share tobacco.

We are standing in front of the structure, Rae's Firefly.  Paul, Zac and I are holding the sign.  Zac was able to join us this summer, at the board meeting, to see the place his Grandma Rae loved.