Ivory

My birthday is next week!  Something I always do on my birthday, without fail, is wake up early and go out alone to catch the sunrise from a beautiful place with a thermos of tea and my journal.  I watch the day begin and I think about the new year of my life as it literally dawns on me.  My reason for beginning my birthday with the sunrise is simple — if everyone forgets my birthday and Robert doesn’t dream up anything special to do for me, and the day is mundane and we eat leftovers for dinner…at least I had that beautiful moment at the break of day and I have a sacred memory attached to that specific birthday of my life.

The other thing I do for my birthday every year (for the past decade) is I sit down and take the time to make myself a piece of birthday jewelry.  Today I made these outrageous post earrings for myself.  They have all the magical stuff — wapiti, crosses, fringe, nuggets of Castle Dome Turquoise and most sacred of all, the elk ivory I pulled from the elk I harvested this year.  This is magnificent, hallowed material that I hold in high esteem and I always said when I harvested my first wapiti, I would honor that animal by making myself an adornment with its ivories.

There are only two animals in North America that have ivory — walruses and elk.  Walrus ivory appears in actual tusk form while elk ivory is a tooth that is set in the upper jaw of the animal, a remnant of tusks.  What I like about elk ivory is its smoothness, the swirl of caramel coloring that can occur in the chewing surface of the tooth and also, the actually energy the material holds.  Elk are beautiful, yes, but they’re so much more than that.  They live in utterly insane country yet they move through it and over it like it’s a city sidewalk.  They are a phenomenon of the high country.  On my elk hunt this year, Robert and I watched a herd take fifteen minutes to cross a section of mountain slope.  When we followed them, it took us over an hour to cross the same terrain!  For those of you who have watched them in National Parks or on public lands, I’m sure you’ll agree that they are awesome animals, but to hunt this animal for sustenance brings on an entirely new appreciation for the species and plants the seeds of obsession in a person.

This is all to say, I’m so happy I took the time to make these eccentric little earrings today.  A friend of mine once said, “If it’s in my heart to celebrate, I’m going to celebrate.”  Those words stayed with me and I practice them as often as possible.

Wapiti

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