Compelled by the need for survival the couple made for the opening, ducking under what disturbingly passed for a dugout canoe suspended in mid-air the crew a scurvy looking raccoon bearing a pompous grin and a blue velvet tricorn. A cocktail of light, fog and fear playing tricks.
Time no longer existed as the couple followed the sounds and smells of hope across the rolling contours of the forest floor, a springboard of dead wood, dry leaves and pine needles. As the sounds became the beat of a drum and the signature of a voice, and the light became the heat of a fire and wink of burning embers, the curtain of fog withdrew presenting the awe-struck pair with a surreal imagery.
Several outsized shapes, each upwards of one-hundred feet in length and twenty-feet in height fanned out before them. Longhouses, made of heavy cedar planks, shallow roofs dusted with bark, smoke billowing from the chimneys.
With a calm brought on by the steady drum beat and meditative quality of the singing a map began to unfold. A village lay before the two, indigenous to the Pacific Northwest. Scattered before the longhouses were numerous cone-shaped fires, smoke curling and reaching skyward as it swirled about the salmon staked to cedar frames infusing the air with wisps of metaphysical quality. Tending the fires, natives cloaked in colorful robes, some wrapped in cheerful blankets.
Eye contact was made and even though no words were spoken thoughts were clearly heard, the two visitors were welcome, in fact needed for this ceremony.
The couple was gently escorted away from the smaller cooking fires and lead to the hub of activity. Central to a ring of dancers, singers and drummers was a flaming pyre casting spirit like shadows across all faces and form. Leaping and hooting about the fire was a giant gray owl features distorted by mask, smoke and contract.
A ceremony, a ceremony the couple knew to be honoring the life of a young son now gone, struck down the evening before. Silence, stillness, all merriment ceased allowing the circle to open. Eyes now clear and bright, the old lady from the convenience store reached out with forgiving hands, accepting the pair into the circle.