Caribou was not yet thirteen summers when Branja brought to her the child. Caribou stood in the doorway of her ntula, or summer hut, gazing out over the mixed forest and tundra just beginning to lose their color and come into fruit as brief summer hurried to its end.
Caribou had known her sister-in-law would come. The night before, she had dreamed a snow bunting alighted on her windowsill with a sprig of bloodthorn in its bill. It had left the berries and flown away, crying its own name: "Branja! Branja!"
This was always the way of it. Snowbirds were the messengers of the ancestors, and Caribou was a dreamer of dreams. . . .