The royal blue rippling water was visible from the winding streets of Incline Village. The snow capped Sierra Nevada mountains reflected in the water were so crystal clear they appeared to be real. A stiff breeze from the lake ripped through the layers of clothes, making everyone feel cold, despite the shining sun overhead. An aged log cabin turned into a store was off the our left, the rustic wooden furniture on the outside drawing the attention of my parents. The tan slats of wood rose high into the sky, giving off more of a homey feel instead of that of one of a store. The front porch was filled with wooden rocking chairs that creaked rhythmically in the brisk wind. Games of checkers and chess were set up between the chairs, in case somebody wanted to sit and play for awhile. Large transparent windows gave a glimpse of all the merchandise that seemed never-ending on the inside. My older sister and I shared an exasperated look before we followed our parents up the warped steps into yet another store. Inside, we were safe from the breeze and welcomed the pleasant warmth the store offered. It was not that the actual temperature was warm, but the place just made you feel safe and protected. The carvings of various animals, mostly bears, encompassed most of the store. Everything, from the plaques with varying maxims hanging on the wall to the dark oak bedframes, were definitely nature themed. Mini totem poles with different animals carved into the cherry wood by hand in keychain form were splayed across a long wooden dining room table large enough to seat twenty. We all wondered in various directions, as the glass counter caught my interest. Intrigued, I examined the contents through the smudged- with-fingerprints glass. A simple, silver feather ring instantly drew me in.
One of the ladies working noticed my interest in the ring, and approached me with an inviting smile. She had caramel colored skin, with thick raven hair falling in braid over her shoulder. Her eyes were a deep mocha brown, but in the center fades to a soft gold. However, instead of them being detached, they gave off a warm and gentle glow.
“Do you like the ring?” She asked, and I nodded, a little nervous to be looking at jewelry without my mother. Usually I don’t even show interest in jewelry.
“It is beautiful. I wear one myself at all times. Do you want to know the story behind it?” She prompted as I caught glimpse of the feather twisted around her finger. I nodded again, my voice still hidden. She started telling the story, passion lighting up her entire face. As she spoke, her eyes seemed to glow even more the longer she continued. She one of those smiles that affected her whole face. Her mocha eyes squinted in the corners and when she would let out a little laugh her nose would crinkle.
The story of the messages and prayers being carried to the Great Spirit were a major reason I decided to purchase the ring. However, that was not the only reason. Her passion for the story was truly the deciding factor. The way her eyes shone and her smile curved as she recalled the old legends and myths made me hope that someday, I would be that passionate and involved in something I loved. The wistful gleam in her eyes and her erratic hand gestures to add emphasis on certain points of the fable are still ingrained in my memory. Her undisputable fondness of the story and the ring seemed to transfer to me with the way she showed it to me. Her descriptive, intense story, which became painted in mind, is still tucked in the back of my memory. It is rare I tell anything about my ring beyond the fact it was purchased in Lake Tahoe. I believe that to be because I always thought of the way she revealed the story to me, and how for a brief moment, time seemed to stand still, was a moment I did not want to disclose. That moment was completely and utterly ours, and still remains to be.
A thin Navajo sterling silver feather is wrapped around my right ring finger. The weight of it almost a perfect equilibrium, it is not too heavy but it is not weightless. The delicately made silver, carved into an arrow curled around my finger is something I wear everyday. I can recall every tiny nick in vane of the feather. The rachis is layered on top of the vane, starting at the calamus, and ends at the tip. It always makes me feel protected when I wear it, because of the symbolic meaning behind it. The story behind the feather is, according to Native Americans, believed that prayers and messages were brought to the Great Spirit on the feathers of eagles. The feathers carried your thoughts, words, and feelings. The feather on my finger carries my thoughts and words, and without it I feel unbalanced and unnatural. This ring brings a feeling of protection with it, and I have worn it for four years, and it remains untarnished.
It seems like such a simple ring, and yet it has impacted and changed my life in many different ways. This ring is almost like a lifeline. Everytime I get stressed or worried, I just look down at my ring. The fact that is looks exactly the same as the day I bought it, that it has been through everything with me and still remains unaffected is comforting. The untarnished silver is a reminder that yes, I have been through a lot of hard and difficult things, but not so much that it leaves behind a mark. The store that felt more like a home than a business has transferred the feeling of safety to me since I purchased it four years ago. That one log cabin store in Incline Village, overlooking the mountains reflected in the deep, freeing blue water of Lake Tahoe is the reason the that I have a feeling of protection with me wherever I go.