A Letter Home

Dear mother,

I reached my destination in Mongolia finally. The last part of the journey was on horseback. My riding lessons had not prepared me for the 10 hours of riding per day. The horses are amazing. They look more like a cross between a mule and a pony and yet they can go and go. I was determined to find this great medicine woman no matter what. All these legends about her knowledge of veterinary medicine multiplied the farther from civilization I got. I want to be the best vet I can be and I know I can learn from her. I am beginning to pick up more and more of the language and the people are so expressive and patient. I help where ever I go, as everyone owns animals here. All my skills I have learned are being put to the test and it is a great joy to use them.

I am deliberately leaving out the most awesome part of this journey because I am still searching for words to describe it. I finally go to the family encampment where the medicine woman lived with her family. She is ancient. I never could get a clear answer on how old she was. She seemed eager to teach me, showing herbs and ointments she uses on the goat, horses, and yaks. I even watched her deliver a foal! She seemed to coax it out if that is possible. The families live in round yurts. They have been very welcoming and even allowed me to sleep in the yurt. I had my own tent but they insisted I stay with them. They made a special dish my first night called khorkhog. It is like a stew and it was very good. I think it had yak in it.

The third night I was there I woke to what I thought was a wind storm. The sides of the yurt were flapping about and the wind seemed to be blowing in all directions. The father of the family ordered everyone to stay in bed and he and the grandmother, the medicine woman, went outside. She motioned for me to follow. I pulled on more clothes expecting a storm and followed. The sky was clear except for a few clouds and the wind had died down. At first I thought I was looking at a giant rock. The medicine woman approached it talking low and quiet bowing. I heard a low rumble and growl. The clouds drifted away from the moon and there was a dragon bigger than I ever and more alive than I ever believed possible. It lifted its head and made a screeching growl.

The medicine woman motioned for me to come closer. My feet felt glued to the ground. I shuffled closer and the dragon whipped its head around. Those eyes mother, those eyes were so large. They glowed orange in the moon light. I could almost see it’s thoughts in those eyes. I bowed low like the medicine woman. I could feel its hot breath as it breathed in my smell. The medicine woman made a clicking sound and moved toward the dragon’s side. I could see that it was hold one wing out. There was a tear in the wing. I shuffled forward and the dragon never took its giant eyes off me. The wing looked so delicate, but I could see fine lines running across parts of it. They were scars. The medicine woman opened a small pouch and pulled out a little pot. She opened it up and scooped out the contents. She made a cooing sound and slathered the ripped spot with medicine. The dragon made a low grumbling sound. She motioned for me and I moved to her side. She put the medicine in my shaking hand and I reached out. The dragon growled but didn’t move as I timidly spread the medicine over the rip. The wing was so soft, like a flower petal. The old woman took a large needle out of the pouch and a spool of twine. She swiftly stitched together the rip. My hands were numb and I realized the purpose of the medicine. I also realized why she was wearing gloves.

With a soft tut tut she cut the twine with a small knife and then walked to the head of the dragon. It looked as though they were having a conversation as he bowed his head to her. She reached up and softly touched his nose. He would be ok. Be safe she seemed to say. He made a gentle low sound and then spread his wings and with almost no effort he was aloft. The draft knocked me off my feet and I lay on my back watch him soar into the moon lit field of stars.

Mother I will never forget it for the rest of my life. I would give anything to be a doctor to dragons. I think I will stay here awhile longer. I have much more to learn. Could you perhaps see your way clear to sending me an early Christmas present? I love you all so much. Tell dad and everyone else I miss them.

Your Daughter

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