It’s true. Tonight when Cliff comes home, he may not even recognize me. During the course of the day, something happened that changed my whole identity–for a little over a week anyway.
As everyone knows in this neck of the prairie in about a week, our little town of Medicine Lodge, KS will be turned upside-down and backwards. Crowds will converge to be taken back in time to the days when Indians roamed the prairies and we watch Coronado’s quest for the Cities of Gold. Cattle drives and wagon trains will weave their way through cedars as the Calvary is always ready to save the day against a scenic backdrop. (Go to www.peacetreaty.org to see a shedule and get information. I’m required by law as a resident of ML to get the word out. They make you pledge to do this before they will turn your utlities on or breathe the air when you move here. ) It is truly a ‘must experience event’. If I mentioned everything else that goes on- this blog would turn into a novel
Growing up, we didn’t miss a pageant. Due to my ML cousin’s influences, I grew up thinking that everyone played “can-can dancers’. The girls got to dance as prairie flowers on the plains. Never was I so in awe as one cousin got to be Coronado’s bride or jealous when one had the lead every young gal wants-The Spirit of the Prairie.
Cranking the clock forward, I have lived here for 21 years and lived through my share of Peace Treatys. One I was 8 1/2 months pregnant, thus not really a fan of riding in a wagon unless they wanted to add a baby-birthing scene. I was willing. Cliff said ‘no.” The rest of the time, I have been ‘the mom’ who made sure her prairie flowers got bussed to the school to hop a bus to the arena or made three trips on back streets so my kids could make multiple appearances in the parade as Indian Maidens, playing in high school band, scouts, and whatever else they raised their little hands to volunteer them—me—us for. One Peace Treaty rumor had it that our little town of 2200 had near 20,000 in it, so transportation is oodles of fun. Not only that, we have always lived just meer blocks from where the uptown action is. This gives us the opportunity to show hospitality to family and out-of-town friends who don’t have their hearts set on using a pot-a-potty or want to fight lines for food. Trying to orchestrate where everyone is and what they are up to has been my full time job.
But, this one is different. My kids-God knows I love’em, but are on there own! They all are of age, can drive and can operate a house key. Truth be told, I probably wouldn’t see much of them anyway. Our family and friends know the drill by now and are welcome to make themselves at home. Newcomers will be fine as our house will be have as much traffic through it as Grand Central Station and can help them. Yes, I am jumping at the chance to play dress up!
But stuff always seems to come up. Due to unsure plans, I hadn’t committed to anything in the pageant and I do have to be gone for part of the performance on Saturday, thus messing that up. Then, I had a little cotton frock, but wasn’t thrilled about and no time to stitch one up, so that kind of damped my vigor. Another Peace Treaty seemed to be slipping by-sigh.
Then a reversal of fortune came my way. Two weeks ago I opened a garment bag of my mom’s. I’m sure I had opened it, glanced and zipped it up to deal with later. Little did I know it was my mom’s sewing masterpiece of all time. Tucks, insets, and ruffles. A very detailed pioneer dress with apron and shawl. What’s more it fit perfectly! A little research online and a scalp of dark blonde curly Peace Treaty hair is UPS-ing itself my way to clip on to this fright wig. A day or two later a friend caught me and asked if I had extra time that I could fill a spot at the Stockade Museum. Yes, I could. Today, we confirmed the time. Before I hung up I not only will be in all three parades, but I have a real life character.
Let me introduce you to the new me. I am Mary Cummins, wife of Orange Scott Cummins. He sold buffalo bones in Wichita and opened the first trading post in Medicine Lodge, The Last Chance. He was a Kit Carson looking fellow and was the first newspaper man here. A guy from Kiowa has done oodles of research on him, portraying him. Ironically, he probably will only be available when I am gone on Saturday, so Cliff can relax that I won’t skip town with a smooth talkin’ bone trader.
So as I write this, I have Medicine Lodge books, scattered on my couch and hope to catch my pretend husband by phone and learn more about ‘me’. I can’t help but admit that while I was excited by being a part of the story, I am now hanging off the ceiling because ‘I’ have an actual unique indenity.
So, if you happen to come to the Lodge for the weekend, be sure and keep your eye out for me. How can one sit still with so much going on? I may not look quite the same, but if you holler “Kelly’, eventhough I’m supposed to be “Mary’, I bet I’ll still answer you. I’m kind of partial to me. The reality is that after the long weekend, the dress will go back in the closet and my Miss Kitty hair will go back in a bag. I’ll still be intrigued with Mary Cummins, but I know who my identity is in and there is nothing I would trade Him for.
For He chose us before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasure and will. Ephesians 1:4