As the Wind Blows
I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.
-- Galileo Galilei
The kids fire up for research when word of Sarita's second letter to the local electrical company gets around.
The CEO shows up in person the very day Miguel's "wind harvest" literature comes, at the same time that it is being excitedly examined and discussed.
"We could install huge wind machines on the lee slope of the tribal mountain, paint it the tribal colors, and cover it with the totems of the various families," enthuses Guillermo.
Watching them pouring over the English pamphlets, Despina feels a twinge of guilt for breaking her "no English" promise to Cu, despite his grudging acceptance of English vocabulary words accompanying the Spanish in vocabulary drill exercises and when the topic under study warranted it. She well understood that the basic teaching was to still be in Spanish.
Juan announces "If we erect three, there should be enough surplus to sell some electricity back to the electric company like they do in California."
A fancy white car with "Edison Electric, Inc." on the side draws to a stop in front of the roof. The tinted windows hide the features of the person inside. When all eyes are properly focused on him, the man makes his entrance.
Opening the door, he tries not to show the effect the sudden influx of heat has on him. He stands, striding rapidly toward the roofed area, ignoring the markings indicating where the door is supposed to be.
"¡Cuidado! Él va a entrar por la ventana. ¡Tengan cuidado! La ventana va a ser roto!"
"Por favor, Juan, guarda el lengua.. He doesn't know the door location from the windows as you do." Despina moves forward, hand outstretched to shake.
Sure enough, the man enters the school right through one of the designated window areas. A glare from Despina quells the laughter the picture of broken glass being scattered around from the nonexistent windows threatens to produce.
"May I meet with Sarita?" he inquires politely, looking around the classroom expectantly.
Standing shyly, Sarita looks at the floor.
"Well, young lady, you write quite a powerful letter."
"We're looking at the possibility of erecting wind mills. What would your company pay us for our excess production?" Juan asks arrogantly.
"Well, that might be possible to arrange, once the cost of running the lines has been covered."
"At the regular rate listed on your web site?" Juan spits out sharply.
"Why, of course. That's why it's posted."
Despina admires the way the CEO keeps his calm, friendly manner when faced with a barrage of questions from the Indian children. She notes wryly that they have all been paying excellent attention to the details of THIS project. Glancing up, she catches a look from him that clearly shows that he, too, is impressed with them.
Soon she becomes aware of a larger audience around the sides of the classroom.
Smoke signals at work, again.
The tribal elders gather, listening intently. Dismissing the children with a wave of his hand, the chief takes over the discussion, keeping only Juan to translate.
Cu appears beside her. "Están leyendo en inglés," he says in low tones, his rapid-fire Spanish ricocheting around in her mind as her head pounds guiltily.
"Yes," she pronounces, drawing a deep, calming breath to steady herself. "The reservation is surrounded by a vast country that speaks English. Sarita picked a project that didn't have much information available in Spanish. I didn't deliberately teach them this. Should I have forbidden her to study what interests her?"
Digging around in the papers on her makeshift desk, she holds up a pamphlet that has some pages in Spanish. "This is all there was."
Cu considers. "No. Es demasiado importante."
Despina breathes a sigh of relief.
As other students videotape their processes, the tape industry grows. Soon, an employee is needed to specialize in catering to the tourist boom the open-air art exhibit and tapes experience.
Despina marvels at the method used to select that employee. Instead of finding someone with the skills necessary to do the job well, the tribal council offers the position to the neediest woman, Margarita, whose Indian name translates as She Who Makes Loud Noises, Alberto informs Despina, giggling. Rita is only semi-literate, so putting her in charge of mailing and packaging things that must be read and written accurately baffles Despina.
Sarita also "helps out", reading and writing things on the afternoons when school is dismissed early, which has been every day to date.
Alberto is also apparently aware of Rita's problem, for he is soon teaching her the natural alphabet every time he can corner her. Whenever they return from the town library with colored photos of the various letters, he uses them as flash cards to quiz her prior to storing them in a large manila envelope in Despina's personal refrigerator.
Copies of the videotapes are dubbed in town, inserts written by Despina's students are prepared and saved on the library's colored printer, then put into blank plastic VHS containers.
Once a week, Rita takes the packaged tapes to town to be mailed.
Unframed copies of the same natural alphabets hung in the outdoor gallery also become available from Rita, who takes orders and payment, then prints them off in town, creating flip style books with large plastic "tooth" bindings done on a machine purchased from an on-line supplier from artwork profits.
As fast as Guillermo's contributions to the outdoor art panels are sold, he creates and hangs new ones, as do other artists. The art hogan has taken on the aspect of a craft cabin at the church camps I attended as a child, Despina thinks.
Child labor laws don't apply, I suppose.
Last updated 3/16/10 Corrected artwork and open-air; Removed second from. 2/26/10 Corrected electric company name. /25/10 Clarified the English she’s allowed to use in class (Where’sMeKilt). 2/24/10 Reworded alphabet photos material. 2/20/10 Changed business to aspect and added Despina thinks, changed Despina to I in next to last sentence. Made green changes (from desktop copy) to red alphabet photo material. 2/19/10 Moved future tape material. Need to find proper place for the yellow paragraph. 2/2/10 Switched some of Cu’s words to Spanish. 12/11/09 Changed keep to keeps. 5/8/02.
Word Count: 982