2120 – Somewhere in the Pacific Northwest region of what was once the United States of America.
Only shards of history survived the cullings.
And by shards, I’m being generous.
We passed history down from one person to the next in small groups around burning wood with the flames casting shadows on our surroundings for ten thousand years.
We marked the rocks with the images in our mind drawn by flames. And pounded reeds flat and bleached them in the sun and made up words to describe the images and the actions around them in complex relationships that became written language.
And then we maximized efficiency and built printing presses to make short work of storing our history in volumes in libraries.
But war, as it does, burns away the words with fire and rhetoric.
We digitized history and made the whole thing accessible to every human being in small, hand-held computers. And we shrank it, until millions of volumes could fit onto the tip of a needle.
History compounded is a radioactive element biding its time until transmutation releases energy and blows itself into shards and larger chunks.
And so we’re left to tell our story one generation to the next, to pass along the DNA of our existence, sometimes in rich detail and sometimes in shards too small to understand why we keep repeating our mistakes.
I pieced this all together from the slivers of information I have gathered over my lifetime, which evenly spans the turn of the 22nd Century.
I inherited some of it and found most of it, extracting it willingly or unwillingly from its hosts. Oh, yes, history is a parasite. Or didn’t you know that?
History periodically blows itself up, so we must pick it up in shards or larger chunks and piece it together and determine that we will never kill each other in large numbers again for resources. But we can’t fight history’s innate need to repeat itself, and so we become willing hosts, corrupted and finally destroyed as the shards and larger chunks to be pieced together by a future generation.
In this way we have eked out our existence on this rock for this brief moment in time.
Over the last six months, I’ve become incredibly fascinated with Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the ill-fated scene of the hostile (silly) takeover.
It was the first waterfowl sanctuary created west of the Mississippi. It was created, in the most simplified way I know how to explain this, when one William L Finley took photographs of the birds there and traveled to Washington D.C., where he showed them to Theodore Roosevelt, who said, and I’m paraphrasing, “Well, bully, let’s create a bird sanctuary for the protection of native birds.” Or something similar.
What you might not know is that there was a chicken egg shortage on the west coast in those days, and people, desperate for their eggs, as we tend to get, were raiding the nests of wild birds and wiping out native populations all over the countryside.
Not just the little summer drizzle. The kind of rain that builds into a rhythmic melody on the roof and on the windows.
I’m sitting here in my parents’ kitchen drinking a big mug of green tea staring at a counter full of vegetables I want to ferment.
The Friday before I return to work after an overextended hiatus.
I thought about going back to bed after I dropped my daughter off at school. The sound of the rain and the thought of laying there under the covers and drifting off to the pitter patter of water on window was extremely hard to resist.
The only reason I didn’t, is because I know that next week I will completely rely on routine to get me through the week.
By that, I mean it’s in the mid-seventies, and the sun is shining and the trees have that look about them. That look they get just before they start to change their colors.
It’s imperceptible, just the lightest downgrade from summer’s dark green but not quite as verdant as spring. If you look carefully, you can watch summer’s slow demise every day.
It’s not fall yet, but the dog days are over. The perfect in-between.
My brother texts and says he has some things to finish around the farm, but that we can hit the river at 1:30.
I run around frantically looking through storage for my bass gear, before remembering that it was twenty years ago that I put together a nice bait caster with a 6 foot super stiff rod that could lift smallies and largemouth from the river like a crane.
We have traveled to dozens of countries together. We’ve lived in seven cities in five states. We’ve moved 26 times in our 20 years together.
And it’s time to come home for a while.
Every adventurer has a home base. And for us, that home base has always been Salem, Oregon. If you’ve seen it, you know it’s the perfect place, sandwiched between the Cascade Mountains and the Coast Range, full of rivers and lakes and trails. A perfect place for an adventurer to keep his or her legs fit and eyes ever looking towards the next vista.