South from Greenfield’s Poet’s Seat, the Great Beaver, K’tsi Tmakw or K’tsi Amiskw, also known as Wequamps, rises in the Pocomtuck homelands at the southern border of the Sokoki. Just to the east, Peskeompskut – the Great Falls – rushes over the Split Rock in the coursing of Kwanitekw. Fertile fields were left in the bottom land of the giant’s vast, flooded impoundment – gift of Gluskabe (or Hobomok), who dealt the recalcitrant creature its death blow.
Looking south along the Kwanitekw in the month Sigwankas, early spring just before ice out, at beaver’s eye level. To the left, eastward, is Wantastegok Wajo shelving into the river. The Beaver is called tmakw – tah-mah-kwah – the “wood cutter” (variants: demakwa, temakwa).This springs from the morphemes “tma-” meaning to cut and “-akw” or “akwa” meaning a rigid or woody stem, a common suffix used in the names of many species of trees. Notice the relationship of tmakw to tmahigan, Western Abenaki for a hatchet or axe, which performs the same action as the beaver. Then take it a step further and you will see understand the Algonquian source of the word “tomahawk.”In this case, tma + higan = cutting tool.
Twilight over the Kwanitekw below Wantastegok Wajo: looking north in the Moose Hunting month, Mozokas.
The February sun sets over the low terrace where Fort Hinsdale once stood, on the north point above the meeting of the Connecticut and Ash Swamp Brook.
Confluence means ‘a flowing together.’ In a literal sense, it is about rivers. But it’s often used to talk about the coming together of ideas or cultures as well. Swirls, eddies, currents, cycles, transitions… Nothing changes, yet everything changes. It is said one can never step in the same river twice. Perhaps the message is not that all things are changing so that we cannot encounter them twice, but something much more subtle and profound: it is that some things stay the same only by changing. A river is a river because it is moving and shifting. Here constancy and change are not opposed but inextricably connected.
On seeing: The boundaries and labels we encounter on our modern-day maps are relatively recent political and historical constructs springing from a Western worldview. It can be difficult to view the land clearly with this tangled overlay of demarcations, polities, and hierarchies. If one can see beyond the arbitrary notions that this is Vermont, and that is New Hampshire, for example, and begin to think in terms of watersheds, and in terms of hundreds, if not thousands of years, then the true face of the country begins to appear. This is the Dawnland: N’dakinna. A land from before time, a land that begins anew each day. The same water that flows here now has coursed down the valley of the Kwanitekw for thousands of years, to the ocean and back, in towering clouds with crashing thunder and twisting, silvery rivulets wending down the mountainsides to return to the gathering valley below.