Purpose was to clear my head and spend time with my beloved for an unplugged weekend.
The book nipped at my heels.
At home, when I walk or exercise, I listen to a tape of The Oregon Trail to help frame my thinking. Luckily Francis Parkman describes my French, Osage and Oglala relatives whom I picture while I write.
I listen to how Parkman’s guide, my great-great-great-great grandfather, Henri Chatillon, hunted buffalo.
Parkman recalls how Chatillon fired two shots into tatonka’s lungs from 150 yards: “The true mark in shooting buffalo.”
I consider this as my beloved and I sit on cushions in the zen monastery, practicing our meditation as dawn breaks Saturday.
Then I hear the report of a rifle. And another. And another.
For a moment I’m transported to Dakota territory—to the Platte, where the Oglala set up camp.
I realize the rifles are right outside the monastery.
In Parkman’s reminiscences, the Oglala and the settlers share a strained truce.
Today, I wonder: what is the relationship between the zen monks and their gun-bearing neighbors?
Copyright free buffalo image from