by Pam Arifian
Every year, Grandmother (Uncí) Carole Bubar-Blodgett, of Wabanaki lineage, takes four rivers into prayer and waits for Spirit to guide her. This year, Spirit guided her to the Housatonic (Howsatunnuck) River for the 8th Annual Water is Life Walk, which is a celebration of life, an opportunity to witness, to offer respect, gratitude and care for the "SacredWater," and to grow relationships with humans and non-humans in the watershed. The Water is Life Walk is an opportunity to come together and heal the river and our connection to it, and help prevent further damage to the river and watershed.
Uncí Carole received the blessing of Sachem (Chief) Robert Hawkstorm Bergin of the Schaghticoke First Nations, the local indigenous people who traditionally held stewardship of the watershed. Over the 28-day moon cycle, Uncí Carole will walk 220 miles from Source to Sea, beginning in Massachusetts and ending at the Long Island Sound in Connecticut, offering blessings and ceremony along the way. Uncí Carole extends an invitation to “all people, all faiths, to gather like the drops of water and join us in this prayer for the SacredWater of all life.”
The Water is Life Walk began with a new moon opening ceremony in Pittsfield, Massachusetts on May 15, 2018, when the skies opened after the strong thunderstorms passed through. The ceremony offered an opportunity to start the Walk with clear, grounded intentions to honor the SacredWater which gives us all Life.
Rev. Lindsey Peterson, a UCC pastor residing in Northampton MA, one of the organizers supporting Grandmother Carole and the Water is Life Walk, offered the following reflection on the start of the Walk:
On Wednesday, our first walking morning, we gathered at Washington Town Park in Washington, MA, to find the headwaters of the east branch of the Howsatunnuck River. Washington is a town small enough that, when we pulled up a couple cars and in bright tie dyed “Water is Life” and “Water Protector” shirts, a woman who is on not only the park commission, but also the conservation commission, and on the Board of Selectmen, drove up to check out what was going on.
Finding the headwaters is an adventure. As far as headwater days go, Grandmother Carole said that this one was easy (and over early)! There isn’t really any one headwater to the Howsatunnuck - or any river for that matter, there is one source for all, but these little threads of living water wind there way through the land we live on and around. Muddy Pond in Washington is commonly acknowledged as the headwater of the river, but there are waters feeding into Muddy Pond. To offer ceremony, gratitude and healings as close to the headwaters as possible was our mission.
Grandmother Carole describes herself has having the contrary spirit with her, or as being a contrarian. In other words, she carries a great sense of humor. It’s the kind of humor which carries Spirit into us worried-about-doing-it-right-types. North was South as she started the prayer bundle offerings during opening ceremony. Finding a way to the access the waters of the headwaters is a mission full of opportunity for connecting with that sense of humor.
Bullard Crossing Road has a sign about 1/4 mile into the dirt road that says “bridge closed”. We had approached Bullard Crossing Road from the North side. We paused a moment to contemplate the sign, and then continued. The dirt road got muddier, rockier and steeper. We carried on (in the car at this point) until it would be rather unwise to go further. The headwaters were still way off at this point….
The Water is Life Walk enters Pittsfield, MA today (Friday, May 18), and enters northwest CT over Memorial Day Weekend, and will end with a new moon ceremony on June 13 near the River's terminus at the Long Island Sound. All are invited to join any portion or all of the walk, and to offer and attend community events supporting the mission of the Walk along the way. Grandmother Carole also invites engagement through financial support to help water protectors to participate, including travel costs, gas cards, food, housing and more. The 8th Annual Water is Life Walk website offers all the details about where and when, and volunteer opportunities. Kindly read the Instructions for Walkers for protocol regarding the Water is Life Walk and participation in Ceremonies.
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