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22 March, 2009

Revelations, Without the Crazy Bloodbath

I must be acclimating well, because a week of cool rain ushering in Spring felt just fine.

Escaped the office on Thursday to explore a parcel in Mason County. No boat, so it took a ridiculous amount of time to drive around and back-track down the peninsulae to the designated spot. It turned out to be yet another place where something stood in the 1930s and was subsequently obliterated, but where I managed to find older stuff: a micro-midden and a hammerstone with some fire-cracked rocks.

That may not sound like much, but considering the fact that almost none of the surface is visible, it ain't bad. I went through the ritual of covering some trail-less ground (in a forest thinned a few years ago, this means through 10-foot seedlings, blackberry tangles, young hazel and alder thickets, and all manner of impdeiments), and learned nothing more than this is excellent huckleberry ground. That in itself is useful, since huckleberries were as delicious centuries ago as they are now. Also, these were the evergreen species, which stay on the bush until well into winter, contributing to the larder later than most any other fruit. And then it was amatter of a mile or so of logging road, scanning the cleared ground for white shell, black dirt, and red fire-rock.

Then Friday, a 2-hour drive to eastern Lewis County, where I went with two of the Cowlitz Tribe cultural resource guys to check out a place identified a century ago as "Indian Cabin." We never found the cabin--maybe it was the foot of snow still on the ground, or maybe due to the last round of CAT tracks--but we found the place.

How do I know? Didn't have the most detailed map, but enough to provide a clue. More to the point, there's something in me that lights up when I walk into prime habitat, and when I walk in with guys who know something about taking advantage of fish runs, so much the better. Some of it has to do with the shape of stream and terrace, the suspiciously dam-like falls, the slightly different vegetation, the abundant elk poop. Then, there's just the feeling, maybe born from unconscious recognition of habitat elements, or maybe the echo of past presence.

Those of you still reading this photo-less post may be put off by the mysticality creeping in at this point, but let me tell you that even an evolutionist, a materialist son of a physicist, can listen to notes not on the standard scale. And when he walks onto the supposed location of the site, and the clouds part and the cold dissipates and everything feels right, he doesn't need to see the artifacts tucked beneath the snow. In Hawai`i I learned to keep an eye out for what are called there the ho`ailona, the signs, and this place had them. Through whatever means, mystical or just subtle material (what you want to believe is still your right in this country), the site revealed itself, as so many sites and artifacts have over the years.

And that's a great way to start the Spring.

1 comment:

  1. Nice rebound from a week before. Good hunting.