Rural Reflections: Trophies on the wall
They hung on the wall like trophy-bearing antlers. Yet they meant 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 first 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 or obsidian an arrow point, a scrapper, perhaps a spear.
He saw in stone 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 recognized that art and the honored the artist.
I never had my father's eye for finding these stones. He could see one from sitting atop a tractor, 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 always passed the treasure around as Dad told us the purpose of each stone. I never thought to ask him how he knew so much, but he was my teacher of Native American history.
Lovingly, he mounted each stone with a leather strap, displaying them for all to see.
Now these stones have left their land — the land that holds his spirit and that of the Native peoples before him. As I hold a primitive stone hatchet in my hand, I am hurled back in time, watching dark, weathered hands tie this tool painstakingly grooved to a limb using a leather strap.
Here I hold these perfectly formed tools in my hands 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 reside in the glass case before me. They will indeed have a place of honor in my heart, as 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.
Pamela Loxley Drake is a Beaverton resident and self-described lifelong "farm girl."
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