Saturday, August 29, 2009

Remnants

They hung on the wall like trophy-bearing antlers. Yet there so much more to the man who placed them there. As I turn one over in my hand, I’m awed at the splendor and wonder of it all.


My father brought his wife and baby daughter to his farmland. He pulled the drag across the fields behind his Belgian horses clearing rocks from the land. Occasionally, he would happen upon remnants left behind by the true owners of this land. These rocks that were chiseled by hand, rock upon rock, tap after tap. The creative eye saw in a chunk of flint an arrow, a scrapper, perhaps a spear. He saw in the rock a hatchet, a hammer, a grinder. And with his skill, he created pieces that not only served his needs but were also beautiful pieces of art. My father knew them as treasures.

I never had my father’s eye for finding this flint, yet he could see one from atop a tractor seat moving across a field. As children, we were always thrilled when Dad came into the house smiling, his hand a curled fist. Slowly he would unroll his fingers to show us his newest discovery. We then passed it around as Daddy told us the purpose of each tool. I never thought to ask him how he knew so much, but he was my own teacher of handmade Indian tools. He would lovingly mounted each treasure with a leather strap and hung them for all to appreciate.

Now they have left their land. As I hold this primitive hatchet head in my hand, I am hurled back in time watching a weathered face tie this tool he painstakingly grooved with a leather strip to a thick limb. Here I am holding these perfectly formed tools in my hand and am awed. Hundreds of years have passed between these people and me, yet we have shared the same land. We have eaten food produced from this land. And we have touched the same stones they chiseled.

These treasured pieces once on my father's wall now sit in glass case before me. They will indeed have a place of honor in my heart as always will the artists who created them. These people fished in our creek, gave birth to their babies on this land and were buried beneath its rich black soil.

I left no remnants there

only

my heart.




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