I have a nephew who is six-going-on-seven and a niece who is four-going-on-five who have not been to visit me since I live so far away. (My sister Claudine has not yet been brave enough to try spending 6 hours on a plane with them.)
Through the wonders of technology such as Skype, Facetime, phone and email (and cool presents) thankfully I am somewhat more than a name to Christian and Anya. But, as you can imagine, I do not get to interact with them as much as I would like to.
Imagine my surprise and delight when one day Flat Stanley arrived in the mail, sent by Christian. To be the one chosen by my nephew to receive him was both an honor and a responsibility. I would not let Christian, or Flat Stanley, down; I would show Flat Stanley around like the honored guest he was and document his stay through photos and stories, and hopefully earn the title of coolest aunt!
Flat Stanley and his story were due back to Mrs. Vitale’s class by a certain date. Due to a very intense work schedule I found myself finishing up the writing at 1:30 in the morning the day it was due. I had flashbacks to my school career and fear of not having my homework done on time. As a result this aunt needed a nap!
As Flat Stanley’s visit and story evolved, an interesting thing happened. I found that not only was I documenting my life in Seattle, but a theme was emerging along with a message. It appeared that Spirit had plans for Flat Stanley, too. But I don’t want to ruin the surprise ending to Flat Stanley’s journey and the aftermath, you’ll have to read on!
Flat Stanley’s Adventures
Flat Stanley showed up one day early in February, and I was very excited to see him. He told me he was sent to me by my nephew, Christian, and had traveled all the way from New Jersey to Seattle, Washington where I live—a total of 3000 miles! I invited him in, and immediately called my animal companions to come and meet him.
Cougar takes a while to get to know someone, so he simply said hello from a little ways off, but Sand is younger and she wanted to play! She did not know her own strength and sent Flat Stanley tumbling off the cat post, but I caught him before he could get hurt.
Puma is a gentle dog, and he had Flat Stanley sit with him and visit for a bit before Kiya decided it was her turn.
Kiya is the oldest, and has better manners than Sand. She offered to take Flat Stanley on a tour of the house by letting him ride on her back. Then she invited him to sit with her and enjoy a nice catnap to recover from his long journey. Flat Stanley really liked spending time with her, and petted her until she fell asleep.
He wasn’t tired, so I introduced him to the wolves that had traveled with me last year from Yellowstone National Park to Earthfire Institute for the event A Walk on the Wild Side: Answering the Call of the Wild in Driggs, Idaho. They told him stories about our time together with rescued wolves, coyotes, grizzly and black bears, and most especially Bluebell the buffalo and Windwalker the mountain lion. Flat Stanley wanted to know if I would take him to see my animal friends, and I told him that I would see what I could do.
Seattle is located on the west coast of the United States, so that night I introduced Flat Stanley to my friend Jane, and we celebrated his arrival by going out to a special restaurant named Salty’s that sits on the shores of Puget Sound.
From the restaurant Flat Stanley could see the ferries that carry people back and forth from the islands to downtown Seattle, and I told him about the wildlife that live in the area such as the bald eagles, osprey, sea otters, and orcas (sometimes called killer whales). We also have harbor seals and sea lions, and later Flat Stanley got to hear them talking to each other during the night. The sound of their conversations carries up the hillside to my backyard.
While my friend and I had dinner Flat Stanley had a lot of fun riding the fire engine, and told me that Salty’s was really cool. He asked to see more of the beach area, which I said we could do.
The next day my friend Jude and I showed him around Alki. Located near Salty’s, Alki Beach has beautiful views of Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains, and downtown Seattle with its signature Space Needle.
It is also the site where the first white settlers who founded Seattle landed when they arrived on a cold, stormy day in 1851. The local Native American Duwamish tribe, led by Chief S’eey`ahl’s (Seattle), welcomed them and helped the settlers stay alive that first difficult winter by canoeing them around and showing them where to find food. Flat Stanley liked the monument that celebrates their meeting.
The Statue of Liberty
Alki also has a 1/18 scale replica of the full size Statue of Liberty located in New York City Harbor. The original “Little Sister of Liberty” was one of 200 placed in 39 States and 4 U. S. Territories by the Boy Scouts between 1949 and 1952 to celebrate their 40th anniversary in the United States. By 2004 the old statue had suffered serious damage from the salt air and water and needed to be replaced.
The other brick honors Chief S’eey`ahl and his tribe who shared a way of caring for the animals and the Earth that I feel is very important. (Brick is located at S-E3 in third spiral arm).
I told Flat Stanley that many Native American believe, as Chief S’eey`ahl did, that “All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”
I also told Flat Stanley that it was Chief S’eey`ahl that had inspired my work at Earthfire Institute where the people join with the animals in ceremony to co-create a better world for everyone.
Flat Stanley was really interested in the Native American canoe that we saw on the monument, so he was excited to be able to see a real one when we visited the Duwamish Longhouse and Cultural Center for a flute class with local Native American artist Paul Che oke ten Wagner. Flat Stanley got a close look at the canoe which is carved from a single large cedar tree and decorated with traditional designs.
While Flat Stanley was visiting I took him to meet Robert Blehert, an artist friend of mine. Alki Arts Gallery was featuring Robert’s vibrant paintings and we dropped by for the opening reception. Robert’s sports art has been commissioned for major league teams such as the Minnesota Twins, and is being collected by many professional athletes. As a sports fan, Flat Stanley really enjoyed meeting him, and loved Robert’s paintings.
I learned that Flat Stanley is also a fan of classic rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix, another Seattle icon. So he talked me into taking a photo of artist Brant Albinosa’s gorgeous painting from an angle where it looks like Flat Stanley is sitting on Jimi’s shoulder.
Flat Stanley was having a great time, but he needed to return home. Before he left I told him that I had a surprise for him. I had been able to make arrangements with my friends Susan Eirich and Jean Simpson at Earthfire Institute. He was going to be able to go by himself and visit with them and meet the animals since I would not be able to travel there myself until the fall.
Flat Stanley was so excited to meet the animals that he wanted to leave immediately. He packed up in such a hurry that he forgot the photos from his visit, so I will have to mail them to him.
I heard from him while he was visiting Earthfire, and he was breathless with excitement. Flat Stanley told me that his arrival had been delayed by snow, which surprised him since when he left Seattle the crocus and the cherry trees were in bloom. In Idaho it is still winter and will be for about another two months. He was disappointed that he did not get to meet Teton Totem, Humble Bumble, and the other bears because they were still hibernating.
He was really impressed with how gentle she was with him and I explained that she had been raised by Susan and Jean and was an ambassador for bringing the bison back.
In the 1800s millions of bison roamed the land, along with the Native American tribes who called this land home. Today only thousands of bison remain in special places such as Yellowstone National Park and Native American reservations, so Bluebell’s work to help people understand the beauty of the bison and connection to the Earth is really important.
I said good-bye and wished Flat Stanley well on his trip back to the East coast. We both had a great time hanging out together. Maybe next time he’ll bring Christian along for a visit!
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A WILD WAY TO HEAL
Rose De Dan, Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing LLC, is an animal communicator, Reiki Master Teacher, shamanic energy healer, and author. Her classes, sessions and ceremonial work are inspired by wild and domestic animals who have issued a call to action for personal and global healing.
Her book Tails of a Healer: Animals, Reiki and Shamanism features heartwarming stories about animals and their role in her evolution as an energy worker and shamanic healer.