Then we all helped to prepare a feast and ate: mutton, stewed and roasted, fry bread, gravy, mashed potatos, blue corn meal mush, potato salad and fruit.
And then it is time to make the cake. The young woman being honored ground the corn the day before. In the hogan we stir the cornmeal batter in huge tubs in a clockwise direction with willow wisks from the canyon. It is a lot of work and takes all afternoon. The community spirit is strong and there is much joking and laughter.
A perfectly semetrical round hole in the ground was prepared the day before to the east of the hogan. Now we line it with cornhusks. The tips of the husks must point up and out in a design that resembles the sun. Everthing has a reason.
The corn batter with raisins and sugar is poured into the cornhusk lined hole, covered with more corn husks and then sand and hot coals. The fire burns all night.
Another run to the east, a rainbow for good luck and then sunset at Saw Mill.
The young girl's hair is untied and washed with yucca root to make it soft and shiny. It is time to cut the cake always in a clockwise direction and with special instructions, the cake is cut into rainbow shapes. It is warm and moist with maybe just a little sand in some bits. Children race to grab the crumbs. The young woman gives each guest a piece of cake. And we get bags of other treats too.
Back inside the hogan the young woman puts a streak of white clay on our cheeks. She blesses us in turn, running her hands down our body. We can ask for special healing. I ask that she give attention to my knees. Others joke she should make them thin.
This young woman is tired, staying up for days, grinding corn, mixing the batter, running to the east. Even her heavy velvet dress and silver and turquoise weigh her down. She has a loving family who have ushered her into womanhood. It is a joyful exciting time, one auntie tells me but it is a bit sad too becuase this is the beginning of letting her go into the world.