Lee Schmidt ...
Lee was this larger than life, gently spoken american guy. I would describe him as worldly and curious (in a good way). He wanted to know about the lives of others from themselves - good bad or indifferent - he loved people and loved sharing stories with them.
We met on a day when we had their host arrange a night out for them. I was invited over and stayed with them. Lee and WhiteEagle were both jet-lagged on that day and looked very tired. Our host arranged for myself and her to get to a site to watch the proms and prepare the picnic. Lee and WhiteEagle were to take a bus to meet us there. I didn't like the thought of 2 jet-lagged americans negotiating a 2 bus journey in a dodgy part of London, so suggested that the ladies go by car and I'd escort Lee over by bus. They agreed.
The ladies left and Lee kind of slumped down. I asked him if he wanted to rest and take it easy ... we could leave when he was ready. He appreciated it and we both went out to sit on the door step. We rolled a couple of ciggies (I was a light smoker then) and we just sat and talked with each other. It was the first time that an adult male had listened to me in this way, without judgement and genuinely taking an interest in my journey. I felt like a son sitting with a father ... but the experience being a borrowed one from films and TV because I never had any kind of connection with my birth father.
The next time that I met Lee was in New Mexico. I'd been on a long photo trip and one of the stops was to meet them both again and to stop by for WhiteEagle's elderhood ceremony. I was doing my best to help one of the participants to make a shelter for WhiteEagle on the Ceremony site and the structure wasn't as stable as I'd envisioned it would be.
I was about to suggest pulling it down and starting again when Lee strolled over and looked at it and 'suggested' leaving it in place and just adding some stakes as stabilisers. That was his way - he'd suggest in a very calm way ...he'd take you along and involve you ... allowing you to learn too.
Along the way, I'd had many chances to sit in 'sweat lodges' with people from other tribes, including the Lakota - with whom there was a particularly strong connection. I'd never accepted the offer though - and I didn't know why. There was a sweat lodge at this Ceremony and the males all went into the lodge together; into the womb of the Earth Mother, the silence and darkness complete. Then the drums started beating and the elders led us in the songs that we had come to know through sharing time. Lee and I held hands ... and it felt like I was sitting with a father. In the old days it would have been so .. a father taking a son to his first sweat lodge. I think that this was Lee's first as well. There was such a connection with all the guys - we all held hands in the dark circle as the elder led the sweat and more and more of the heated stone people were brought into the lodge; water was poured onto the stones creating more heat and steam. The songs bonded us and raised our spirits ... our different tones melding the same as a pack of wolves to send forth a melody to the Universe.
After the sweat was complete we had to leave the lodge, say our soul name for all to hear and to say something of meaning. I remember leaving the lodge on all fours - springing clear of the door way and saying, 'I am SnowMoon Wolf', then I stood up and howled my heart out. I listened in the silence but no wolves howled back ... but it was ok ... we were still connected.
The next day, as we sat on the edge of a canyon, something special, private and wonderful happened. The effects of which lasted a little while until reality interceded a few years later.
I met them both again in Calafornia 3 years later.
Myself and Lee went to Yosemite and took some photos. We goofed around, stayed a night and had some booze and a really good laugh that night.
I took this photo of Lee on that trip. Lee Schmidt, a man to walk the mountains with.