Layers Of Ash


These are the remains of a sandstone-lined fire pit. Charcoal, ash, and burned wood still exist within the stone circle where the last fire burned more than a decade ago. If I still practiced archaeology, I think I might excavate the area, just to see how many layers of ash I could identify both within the pit and outside in the midden where the old ash was thrown. There is a time to study the past, and then there is a time to create it.

Old dead limbs stick up from the low water of a draw that feeds the old pond. There are more fishing hooks and pieces of line tangled around the base of those limbs than I can count from children's fishing tackle used here over the years. That fishing line led to many a frustrating fishing trip, yet leads to many good memories still unbroken. I could sit here every day and fill a book with the stories shared around the fire pit, even though few artifacts remain.

It is fairly easy to come across a site where one has never been before and find the remains of human activity. Sometimes it’s projectile points (including arrowheads); other times it’s empty shotgun shells. However, memories are troublesome to recover from sites like the sandstone-lined fire pit by an outsider, even if they can be speculated on. After all, knowing and thinking we know something are two very different things, just as  living a history versus studying it are two different things.

Except for what is read about or passed on as stories told to the minds of the descendants, the ash and artifacts are all that remains of someone’s time here. But, what good is history if we forget what it is like to live?