Posts Tagged 'history'

In the middle of everything

golden retrieverThis is a common scene in my home, most or many of those autumn days: me, pushing the dog bed against the wall, in spite of her strong preference for keeping the bed in the middle of the room, where I had to step over her repeatedly while I bake.

This dog does not want a den, she wants a stage. She’s been through many remodelings in a relatively short period of time, for a number of reasons. Sitting quietly in a corner does not guarantee love, attention or food, in her experience. When we upgraded our windows, single to double pane, she tripped the Pella man, whose ankle was twisted, but he forgave her anyway because of her strawberry blonde hair and her wish to play tennis ball with him before he leaves. The plumber is less forgiving, and charges me for his x-rays.

At some point in the remodel I am finally able to remove the vintage 70s Elvis posters that have been tormenting me through ex-husbands, sentimental children and unsightly holes in the wall that I have not ever gotten around to patching or painting.

Really, don’t we all know that remodeling is most manageable following a huge natural disaster? A flood, an earthquake, even a fire? Although fire is so absolute that it has almost a religious significance. This fire would not have happened without your sin. Or mine.

So I found myself dragged through our history: the beaded shell door hangings, the various sound systems, lost technologies, the aging spices from vegan experiments, the nasty industrial air fresheners of the nineties, the assorted snugglies and noise cancelling devices of the early 2nd millenium. We washed our feet like Jesus at one phase in our nesting. We lit sage to cleanse in another. We accumulated in the next decade, more and more and more and more and more and came suddenly to a painful and choking halt, with duct tape and orange alerts and one ounce bottles to carry on our big adventures somewhere else.

Now it is time to upgrade the house with security systems and timers, cameras and automated gates. My gardeners begin to worry, begin to believe there are terrorists everywhere and now my baking is for reassurance. No worries, I tell them, Randy and Julian and John and Jorge, take this apple spice cake and this bag of little things we did not use in the remodeling. They are looking for re-usable wiring so they can protect the perimeter of their empty lots, where they will someday build the house they’ve always wanted for their wives and children, who are for the time being living in little thin-walled apartments in Rio Rancho, which are incredibly expensive and yet close. Being close is important. Being close is more important than double pane windows, which is something even my red-haired dog, who is no rocket scientist, knows, and I have come to agree with her, and leave her bed in the middle of everything, because that is where we all belong.

Clovis woman

cavewomanTeddy Roosevelt’s daughter studied archaeology and she wore trousers. This was very modern and expected of her as the daughter of a great adventurer and a seeker of primitive cultures. She had a mustache, a light downy mustache, very feminine, that she bleached in her youth but rather cultivated as she grew into her identity as more than an adventurer’s daughter.

I should say that this daughter of Teddy Roosevelt is entirely fictional, and that any resemblance between her and an actual daughter of Teddy Roosevelt is coincidental. Some of the places may be real, but all of the people are fictionalized representations of a moment in history. She is the great adventurous American female. Fearless. Flippant. Carries a whip, brushes the dust off of her heavy khaki trousers and goes looking for antiquities. There she is at Blackwater Draw, cheek to cheek with archaeologists male and female, digging in the dirt, scraping, brushing and uncovering great mounds of bones. Early man. Bison graveyards. Spear points.

The air is dry and water is unpredictable. A sudden rain turns the excavation site into a gullywash out of which a sudden chorus of frogs announces the tendency of water and water creatures to hide just below the surface. They drink gin in the starlight while frogs serenade them, cicadas making a counterpoint and diggers singing the juke joint songs of the day. They draw mammoths in the dirt with pointed sticks – here, we see a spear point that wounds but does not kill the beast. It wanders off and is found 16,000 years later, skeleton intact, spear still buried in the ancient scapula. This is tangible evidence that we were here.

Clovis man is a manly man, with rocks and spears and flints. He is worshipping life and water and the blood of animals long before Teddy Roosevelt puts on his pith helmet and carries the swaggering bravery of the American West to the White House. Clovis man eats whatever is there: roots, bugs, cuddly small mammals, frogs in the wet season. But he dreams of meat. Big meat. Meat on the hoof. Clovis man invented barbecue, Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter is sure.

Teddy Roosevelt’s daughter, whose name is Clarissa, adores Clovis man. She imagines him rolling his own cigarettes, out of the locoweed that surfaces in these dig sites periodically. She smokes along with him and looks up at the stars, whirling now in the big universe just as they did in the night visions of Clovis man. When she pictures him, he is well dressed, in skins that cover his private parts but show the sinewy legs, and with shoes. She pictures him in rope sandals, and she pictures him drawing in the sand with a sharp stick, just as she is doing now.  The eminent archaeologist on the dig, Dr. Edgar Howard, makes an occasional effort to get close to Clarissa, but in her imagination she is having a joyous fling with the first real man in America. She imagines showing him the first locomotive, the first printing press, the first combustion engine. She looks at his spear design and she knows him for the first American, ingenious, an engineer even in his primitive state. She does not marry, and this is no surprise to her father, who til the end of his life shouted loud and jubilantly and clapped her on the back like an equal, like a brother. And indeed, they were very much brothers under the skin.

(25 minutes. Prompts: multiple words and phrases, collectively generated.)

Where a bear

When a fast-moving charged particle traverses a Geiger counter, an electrical impulse is produced. When an electrical impulse is produced, a charge is fired. When a charge is fired, a countersuit is filed. When a countersuit is filed, a unit is charged. When a unit is charged, a bank of data is created. When a bank of data is created, an account is recorded. When an account is recorded, a field is mined. When a field is mined, a history takes shape. When a history takes shape, a past begins to follow a path. When a past begins to follow a path, a bear comes along it, searching for food. When a bear comes searching for food, a yearning for fire grows. When a yearning for fire grows, a search for tinder is begun. When tinder is found, stone hits stone. When stone hits stone, a spark is lit. When a spark is lit, a fast moving particle produces an electrical impulse. When an electrical impulse is produced, a charge is fired. A history is created. A fire burns. A bear runs away. A bank is built where a bear lived. A small school nearby grows large. A large city becomes a holding tank. A holding tank becomes an armory. An armory becomes a congregation. A congregation holds hands. A fear takes hold, an electrical impulse is produced. A charge is fired, a field is mined, a bear is hungry, a yearning for fire grows and glows in the cold trapped molecules, the atoms and fathoms at deep charge depth. And a circle becomes a circle, and a circle that has always been a circle has always been a circle. When walking in a circle, take note of where you are, look around to see if you are being followed by a bear. 


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