I can't imagine what it's like now with tons of people swarming down upon it, but back then, when Nokosee and my new in-laws the Osceolas and their 14-year-old daughter Gerryragni took me there for the first time, it was like stepping back through a thousand year time warp. Cutting the chain looped around a steel gate with bolt cutters was the first thing you had to do to get transported there. And then after walking down a dirt road through the woods, there it was, all alone and dangerous and beautiful and spooky all at the same time. Sunlight broke through the thick tree canopy in shafts of dusty light over the flat black water. Aside from hearing insects buzzing and an occasional bird cry, it was basically about as quiet as you can get.
Of course my father-in-law and founder of the New Seminole, Busimanolotome Osceola, used it as another opportunity to test my worthiness as the white woman (I was only 18 then) who had the audacity to screw with his grand and cockamamied plan by marrying his only son Nokosee whom daddy had groomed to be the "First of the New Seminole." Before I knew it, Busi was daring me to join the family in the black water. Although I felt like a real pussy standing on the riverbank, I just couldn't join that crazy bunch of loons in the water. I just knew there was a cottonmouth or a gator down there waiting to get at me. But I also knew that if I didn't get in that creek, the Osceolas would never let me forget that I was... unworthy. So, after more catcalls and getting splashed enough times that I was already soakened wet, I got in.
First I stuck my big toe in and pretended it was too cold-- and it was-- and wondered out loud as sarcastically as I could, "Oh, how can you stay in the water? You must be the strongest family in all the land." But I shuffled in anyway. Nokosee extended his hand so I could grab it for support but I slapped it away. I didn't appreciate him ganging up on me. Within seconds of sinking into the water up to my head, I was shivering-- and this was in the heat of summer-- and thinking I'm gator bait again,* something I was sure Busi was hoping for.
But that didn't happen. Looking back, it was my official baptism into the New Seminole because it involved water. The others which came before and were to follow were all different but forever saved for history in my books.
Oh, yeah, and that picture came much later when I was sneaking up on Nokosee who, of course, cannot be snuck up on. I was pregnant and we were alone then enjoying the Creek by ourselves after I had become accustomed to the cold water. He had a GoPro and got that picture on the fly. I had "war paint" on in an effort to make me look all bad ass and stuff since we were at that time at war with Uncle Sam. I just wish I had had some Butch Wax for the Mohawk so it could have stood upright. If I had, you can bet I would have come at Nokosee with my head below the water, with only my Mo racing toward him like a shark fin.
*I was really used by Nokosee as gator bait in Book One when he used me to coax his 16-foot pet gator Haalapatee out of my dad's Park Ranger pen when we were trying to escape from the Outside. That was pretty scary but, like getting use to the Fisheating Creek water, I learned to not fear the gator which, at the end of Book One, gave its life to save ours. In thanks and memory, we gave our daughter his name.