Tume Estek lived in a quiet neighborhood surrounded on each side of her small apartment by caring friends and neighbors. Her small house overlooked the base of Broken Rock Mountain and one her favorite things was looking out the window so she could watch the deer travel from their summer range at the base of the mountain to their winter range up in the tree line. Every day she would look out her window for a few moments to check on their progress. She loved to see the seasons change. She was neither elderly nor was she middle age, she had travelled around the sun many times but the thrill of it never left her.
Tume Estek was of medium height, with short hair that was still more pepper than salt. People always said her best feature were her brown eyes that seemed to see every good thing inside of anyone she met. Her no nonsense way of moving around in the world meant that the everyday crises other people might experience had little to no effect on her. Her neighbors came to trust and seek her out during times of trouble due to this steadfast way of walking on Mother Earth.
On this day, Tume Estek was having breakfast with her niece Skllekstem te Nuxwenxw. They were having pancakes, but the smell of fresh bannock and peanut butter cookies was filling the kitchen with happy yummy smells. Tume Estek feet were doing a happy dance under the table just thinking of the tasty lunch she was going to have. She giggled to herself, “here I am excited about lunch and I have not even finished breakfast yet.”
Tume Estek told Skllekstem te Nuxwenxw “I am going to go to my favorite berry patch after breakfast and pick some wenec.”
Skllekstem te Nuxwenxw told her “I will make your lunch of bannock and moose meat sandwiches. I also made some peanut butter cookies this morning. How many do you think you will need to take to keep your strength up while picking wenec?”
Tume Estek slyly laughed and said, “I will need at least three cookies, picking wenec is hard work you know.” They both laughed and began gathering buckets and packing lunch.
After breakfast, Tume Estek walked up the mountain with purpose in her step because she knew the best berry patch. As she got to the mountain, she was sad to see a big boulder had wedged itself between the two sides of the ravine and blocked off the trail to her favorite berry patch.
Just as she was going to turn back, she saw Skemcis resting under a tree. Tume Estek walked up to Skemcis and asked, “Can you move the rock blocking the path.” Skemcis drowsily answered her “why should I do that?” Tume Estek answered “because there is an excellent wenec patch on the other side of the rock.” Skemcis says “No, I don’t want to move the rock because I am satisfied with the berries around here, they are sparse but good.” Then Skemcis sniffed the air and said, “but for the bannock and moose meat sandwich I smell in your lunch bucket I will move the stone.” Tume Estek reluctantly agreed and handed over her bannock and moose meat sandwich. She knew if she did not trade the sandwich that her grandkids would not have wenec to eat for the winter months. She could already feel her tummy grumbling but she handed over her sandwich.
Skemcis quickly unwrapped the bannock and moose meat sandwich and after much lip smacking and happy growls he finished the sandwich. He then stood up and stretched mightily making sure that Tume Estek could admire his muscles and shiny coat. Skemcis then ambled over to the big rock blocking the path and put his dinner plate size paws on the rock. After much grunting and groaning Skemcis stepped back, wiped his brow with a huge paw and said to Tume Estek “maybe if you would help me, I would be able to move the stone.”
Tume Estek was still feeling grumpy about having to give her lunch to Skemcis but she went over to help push the rock but Skemcis was so xyum she could not squeeze past him to reach the rock.
Skemcis sheepishly looked at her and said, “you will have to stand behind me and push on my shoulders when I push on the rock.” Skemcis got into position that looked like a football linebacker, put both his big paws on the rock, then he glanced back at Tume Estek and said, “be careful not to pull my fur.”
Tume Estek would not answer him because she knew to be careful. She firmly braced her legs and put her hands on Skemcis’ shoulders. She went to lean in to push and stopped because she noticed that Skemcis’ fur smelled pleasantly like bacon grease with a hint of cedar. She thought to herself, no that can’t be right. She leaned in again and quietly sniffed and sure enough his fur smelled like bacon grease with the clean undertone of cedar. She thought to herself that is weird but in a good way.
Tume Estek pushed as hard as she could on Skemcis shoulders and he let out a loud “OOOF” ending in a squeaky wheeze which sounded remarkably like a balloon with the air coming out of it. PFFFFFT. Finally, the stone moved, and they were able to push it off the path.
Skemcis tiredly sat down back under the tree. Tume Estek remembered she had three peanut butter cookies in her lunch bucket so she told Skemcis “hang on I will go and get us some cold sellkwe to drink and then we will have a snack. She came back with her lunch bucket filled with cold water and gave it to Skemcis. She then offered him two of her peanut butter cookies. They happily sat in the shade of the tree and ate cookies washed down with water so cold it made her teeth ache.
She told Skemcis “kukstemc for helping me move that big rock, I am going to my favorite wenec patch now”
Skemcis took a moment to flex his muscles before answering “no problem, you are welcome.”
Skemcis then asked, “When you were pushing on my shoulders did you secretly smell my fur?” Tume Estek ducked her head and laughed embarrassedly and said “maybe a little.” Skemcis let out a loud laugh and asked her “why do you always have to be so weird?” They had a good chuckle as good friends often do and then Tume Estek hurriedly went up the path so Skemcis would not see how embarrassed she was. She filled up her bucket and when she had eaten at least two buckets of wenec she decided to head home.
When she got home, she told her niece Skllekstem te Nuxwenxw what had happened. Skllekstem te Nuxwenxw said “I am glad you gave Skemcis your sandwich and shared your cookies with him. He was climbing Broken Rock mountain and slipped down a steep embankment and hurt his paw. He had to rest his paw and let it heal. He came down two weeks ago and asked me to give him some melamen.
Skllekstem te Nuxwenxw laughed and said, “I had to tell him not to eat the melamen because when I got it all mixed together into an ointment it smelled like bacon grease. I told him there is no bacon grease in the melamen, it just smells like that. You should have seen the disappointment in his eye, I finally cooked him some bacon and pancakes so he would not leave disappointed!”
She went on to say, “He came back a few days ago so I could see the healing progress. His paw was finally healed but even, so the hunting has been scarce. He also brought me three big buckets of wenec! I was so surprised and asked him, “where did you get those big juicy wenec?” He just chuckled and would not tell me! Imagine!”
Tume Estek was very thankful she shared her sandwich and cookies with Skemcis. Tume Estek decided the riddle of Skemcis would best be solved another day.