Wednesday, October 24, 2012
O Brave New World
Once in a while something interesting comes from the silliness, from some wild hare I pursue. Writing about Mayan culture reminded me of two other examples from this particular writer’s life-files...
First, in the late Sixties I researched and wrote for Seattle Magazine a long and fairly nifty report on the archeological dig then underway near Washtucna in Eastern Washington, but located down in the "scablands" canyon of the Palouse, where some rock-overhang shelters were used for thousands of years as both temporary resting
This site had yielded solid proof of such occupancy: primitive weapons, bones and teeth from humans and other creatures, plus the near-entire skeleton of carbon-dated, twelve-thousand-year-old “Marmes Man.” (The human remains were thought to be those of early wanderers--crossing the land bridge from Asia to Alaska, then gradually moving south via Washington State, their descendants eventually considered the “Native American” peoples of the West and Meso-America.) But all would soon be lost, the whole canyon inundated by the rising waters of the river, trapped behind a new Snake River dam further downstream.
I actually joined the dig for two ultra-dusty, hundred-degree days, interviewing
After a few hours of scraping and whisking, shifting, then sifting carefully, but finding nothing of possible interest, I was ready to knock off. (Okay, I was wimping
He made the appropriate sounds, congratulated me on a discovery made in so few hours (some lurking sarcasm there or, maybe, a professional’s disdain for the lucky amateur), and proceeded to burst my bubble, explaining that a single tooth by itself didn’t count for much; other teeth, a jawbone, a whole or partial skull, would lend more credence, even help establish archeological provenance.
* * * * *
The second verbal artifact requires less telling. When Sandra and I got married almost 25 years ago, we made sure that nearly every aspect of the several days’ celebration and wedding ceremony had been picked up and dusted off, or dispensed with, or changed utterly. Among the minor adjustments was our decision to offer a single-layer chocolate cake, and I put the rationale (sort of) into a poem printed in the program for our lovely but equally low-key ceremony:
In Defense of Flat Chocolate Wedding Cakes
Any time, love is a nervous condition.
On the sunwheel plaza high up each
pyramid of the Valley of the Sun,
Aztec priests got right to the heart
of the matter: the Cakes of Heaven
are seldom a body’s bread.
Nor should the hopeful couple approve
some half-baked cylinder shaped
like Chichen Itza’s Well of Maiden Sacrifice.
(Not that far removed, politically speaking.)
small man atop clearly in reduced circumstances,
and the tiny woman, had she but tongue
to vent her anguish, shrieking like the Sidhe.
Neither would choose to live in such
a triple-tiered suite of dubious taste…
Let other weddings take the cake for show
biz. Our “I do’s” will not be
symbolically or otherwise consumed
at the Drive-in Chapel of Confectioners’ Dreams.
Marriage can be short and dark and give
you several raspberries. Chew on this
to remember our cock-eyed optimism.