Thursday, April 26, 2007

Treasures, buried and unburied

One of the things that I enjoy the most about living in the country here in eastern Indiana is how distinct the seasons are. Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter, each in its time, with its own beauty, and with it's own trials and joys. While there are many, many wonderful things about Texas, from whence we are transplanted, the seasonal progression there runs more like Hot, Hotter, Rainy, and Cold with the occasional milder interludes.

I love Texas, dearly, and for many reasons. But I enjoy and am fascinated by the geography and climate here in the rural Midwest. I am especially impressed with how, after each frozen winter, the rich and fertile farmland, which lies atop an active glacial field, renders surprising treasures. Like pieces of wood, floating up from the bottom of a lake, all manner, size, and type of sedimentary and metamorphic rock are squeezed up through the topsoil to the surface, to glint in the sunshine. There are beautiful, jagged chunks of crystal, in various colors, often laced with gold pyrite. Multi-hued pieces of striated granite ranging in size from that of a dime up to a basketball, strewn on top of the ground. There is sandstone, limestone, shale, and many kinds of rock that I can’t identify. Some are as sharp as a knife, others rounded as smooth as a marble. Three hundred pound boulders, completely submerged and invisible last year now jut up like an iceberg, ready to flay the blade of the farmer’s till or planter.

In the area around our house, I often pick up pieces of old glass, pottery, and brick, as well as bits of chain, old tools, coins, buttons, fence wire, horse tack, and similar things. Once I found a child’s ring under one of the trees in our yard, at least 50 years old and tarnished, but otherwise nearly perfectly preserved. Another time I found an unshaped clump of beautiful green glass. Since we moved here I have collected all of the glass and pottery bits and intend to make or commission something artistic out of them someday.

And there are treasures like the one pictured, which Nancy and I found as we took a walk through the fields this last Sunday evening. This is a great time of year for that. The fields are not yet planted and the weather is beautiful. It is not so uncommon to find arrowheads and other artifacts here on the farm. For at one time, in the mid-to-late 1700’s, this was the wilderness frontier, the unincorporated edge of the American West, inhabited primarily by Native Americans, principally the Shawnee and Miami tribes, as well as the Chippewa, the Wyandot, and the Potawatomi. The name, Indiana, means “Land of the Indians,” and our part of the state, in particular, was well populated and traversed. This region is rich in history, both grim and glorious, for Native Americans as well as the early European settlers.

My family has inhabited this land since the early 1800's, so I do feel connected to all of this history and beauty. And now another Spring has sprung, and we are glad to have it. It is a blessing to live here.


DaveG said...

My brother lives on a farm right off of US 36, just west of Gettysburg, OH. He has an enormous collection of indian artifacts that he has found just by walking the fields. Arrowheads, chipping tools, all kinds of stuff.

It's fascinating to see the various implements they were able to fashion from stone.

Barry Pike said...

Cool, Dave. That is only about 30 miles from where we live, just on the other side of Greenville.

DaveG said...

Geez, you're practically a neighbor! I'll have to give you a heads-up next time I'm flying out there. You're probably not all that far from the airport, either.