November 18, 1833 The Sangre de Christo Mountains New Mexico Territory
Sojourner, sixteen years today, called Journey by those who know her, sat her paint pony bareback on the mountain top under the black November nighttime sky and held her breath as she watched dozens, and tens of dozens, of fire balls streak down from a deep and distant heaven. The sky heaved with an endless cascade of white-hot traces. She had seen shooting stars before: brief kindles of light gone before you blinked. One or two a night--four, maybe, if she stared real hard, and then she’d better be looking in the right place. But this was different. No matter where she looked she saw them: rocks flung from long ago before time. That’s what the old people said. They said first life came to Earth this way.
Some of the rocks came with thunder, not a blustery outburst but a furious crack like the crack an axe handle would make if you snapped it across your knee. No wind. No rain. Only streaks of light and random shots. It was unusually warm for this time of year. Her deerskin leggings and over blouse were enough to keep the chill away. A leather band braided like a rein kept her hair out of her eyes, but the rest of it tumbled about her head and neck in an untamed fall of rowdy curls so blonde as to be nearly white. A feather from a wild turkey was shoved upside down into her headband and hung down over her left ear. Come autumn when the pods of the bull thistle burst and send their seeds through the air some always settled in the thicket of her hair. Sometimes a leaf or a piece of one was caught up in it, too. Or a twig. Once a tiny fragment of pale green egg shell. Once a piece of blue thread.