Writing Names in Dust

“Ashes to Ashes.  Dust to Dust.”

I met an Archaeologist recently.

She has been doing “shovel testing”  and has unearthed some ancient artifacts.    One of her most interesting finds to date has been a spear point that is at least 10,000 years old.   She is painstakingly cataloging each tiny bead, each arrowhead, each pottery shard she finds as she scoops earth onto a screen and lets the dust take to the wind.  She told me that during her research, she has found, in addition to small animal and fish bones, the bones of moose..an animal that is rarely seen in this part of the county any more.

The pottery she has found has a name.  It is Brainerd pottery, which I have learned is older than Blackduck pottery.  Each type is unique..with specific markings that make it easy to identify.  She let me hold one of the pieces in my hand.  It wasn’t much to look at….just a piece of gray, dusty earthenware about the size of a book of matches.  But I was connected, for just that moment, to the person who had made the vessel thousands of years ago. I wondered what the vessel had held when it was whole.  Who had stamped the tiny, evenly spaced, marks along the rim?

The shard  I held was unearthed in the front yard  of our cabin at the lake.

Across the road from where the pottery I held was discovered,  there are three unmarked graves on the western bank of the Bowstring River.    The wooden Spirit Houses that once covered them were removed long ago. However,  images of the houses are visible in several photographs kept for generations within my family.  The photos are proof of a final resting place for three people who were born, and then lived, and then didn’t.

What is permanent?  What remains?

A bead here.  A bone there.   An faded, curled photograph.

Sometimes, if we are fortunate, like the Moose…

A Name.

Beautiful Girls

I need a haircut.

No, I really, REALLY need a haircut.  Unfortunately, I am always trying to extend the time between haircuts because I’m cheap.  And I’m in denial.  And I wear my hair short so once it is, by my definition, by even an eighth of an inch, NOT SHORT, I can tell even if nobody else can.   I’m also basically lazy and I love being able to shower, shake my head like a dog, and leave the house.

I suppose I should also color it, but I refuse to start doing that.  I don’t want to have to go in and have my roots “done” once a month.  This sounds like wayyyyy too much work to me.  Lucky for me, I have kind and tactful friends and family members so they don’t mention the fact that I have gray (grey?) hair.

I am terrified of needles.  So I have wrinkles.  And my butt is a little farther south than it was ten years ago. When I use the super turbo  hand dryer in a public restroom, I’m fascinated by the way my arm skin waves when the air hits it.  I think it would be cool to stand on my head just once to see if the force moved my butt back where it used to be. However, if anyone walked in on me, I don’t think I could explain my research.

I was with friends recently when the conversation turned to cosmetic surgery. One friend said she’d considered it. The reason?  She hates the laugh lines under her eyes. I, on the other hand, adore those tiny lines of hers.  She is a joyful person. Her laugh is infectious.  Those lines signify this for me…I would miss them.

I have friends who diet. I don’t.  When I needed to lose weight, diets never worked for me.  I’d buy all the right foods….eat them for about a week…and then I’d end up reverting back to the same foods that had made me fat in the first place.  I hit a set point about two years ago and now, no matter what I eat, I stay a fairly constant weight.  People who wonder how I stay slim want my secret. Here it is…

Have gallbladder surgery.  Then, try to eat the stuff that you used to eat before your gallbladder disappeared. Then, get sick.

Not fun. Not fun, at all.  But effective.

I was recently at a school concert.  As each group came on stage, I looked at all of the young women.  Tall, short, heavy, thin, blue eyed and fair, dark eyed and ruddy.  Each one unique and  lovely in her own way.   I wondered what was going on inside each girl’s head…what conversations was she having with herself during the concert that was focused on her appearance? How many of those conversations were negative?  At that age, I wanted to be petite instead of long legged.  I wanted dark hair, not light brown.  Brown eyes, not blue.  As females are we programmed to be perpetually dissatisfied? At what point to begin to measure ourselves against each other?  Who, or what is the standard of measurement?

I’m a mom of a young woman.  She is a student and a scholar and a good friend.   She is a wonderfully giving person.  She is honest, and moral, and funny, and strong.   And while she is quite lovely, she cannot take credit for this, nor would I want her to.   She can celebrate the rest, though. She’s working hard to build the woman behind the smile in her photographs.

I am proud of her for understanding this much earlier than I did.

When women of any age are defined only by how they look,  it’s not pretty at all.