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For the Old Ways -- Archeological Expedition to Big Sandy Mush Bald
Paul Gallimore

Sometimes, just sometimes, searching for the past
Brings us into the present.
Don't the Ancestors live in the present too?
Just after the vernal equinox,
Just before the 2nd blue moon in '99,
A bright sky and sparkling sunlight off the creek's snow-melt.
Sweating pretty good, breathing hard on the way up
Past piles of already-shed winter coats.
Pendulums and intuition guide the way, not topo maps.
Bluejays making a raucous racket noisy who-goes-there?
Shadows of turkey vultures from the old Cherokee myths --
Their wings -- the original mountain formers and shape-shifters.
A soft little furry gray vole resting in peace on the edge of a snow
-- Ah, a contemporary non-burial site!
and a late lunch for someone on the lookout.
Piles of fox- rabbit- bobcat- coyote scat,
and deer-droppings like big fresh chocolate-coated raisins higher up
the mountain -- more non-burials!
A predator feather,
Tobacco offerings to honor and give thanks for all these
And all the crossings of all the trails of those who've gone before --
"Ubi sunt qui nos ante fuerent?"
"Latin, Latin, dead as can be.
First it killed the Romans
Now it's killing me."

Gary reminds us to ask: "Rabbit tracks Deer tracks What do we know?"

And USFWS avocational archeologist Gary Henry ripped the leg out of his britches, it was reported, before he left in his truck.

Eating snow and ice in the shade
and tiny spring leaves of Mountain Mint
-- a burst of winterspring freshness in the mouth!
A glowing Sundog arches overhead,
The whirling rainbow opens to include
The Ancestors' offspring....
Crawling on all fours
Through the rhododendron and mountain laurel
the rock outcroppings -- the ancient "Tunkas,"
the rock lichens and the green bearded medicines.
He's still digging thorns out of his forepaws.
Suddenly a rock overhang appears
-- could shelter 4 or more lying down, dry too.
Make a 4 rock pile for the future.

Picking up trash to haul off
Breaking up branches and throwing 'em in the
in the trail wash-outs
on the way out,
Tobacco ties in white, yellow, blue, green, black and
2 in red hanging from a branch....
Remembering and being thankful
for the Grandparents
and the Tunka Brothers and Sisters
And the 7th generation to come,
Maybe on all fours,
In humility.

"I turn to the Great Spirit's book which is the whole of his creation. You can read a big part of that book if you study nature. You know, if you take all your books, lay them out under the sun, and let the snow and rain and insects work on them for a while, there will be nothing left.

But the Great Spirit has provided you and me with an opportunity for study in nature's university: the forests, the rivers, the mountains, and the animals which include us."
--Walking Buffalo, Stoney

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