Exploration

Portmeadow Kisses

 

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Portmeadow, Oxford, England

The smell of her skin in Oxford showers

Her hands combing my hair at night

The taste of whisky while I look in her eyes

Her sideways smile, so fresh and silly,

Tea in the morning, singing songs at night

Serious, studious, loving, and sweet

The idea of her forest by the sea

Portmeadow kisses, indescribable blisses

Lips of fire so fierce and free

 

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Categories: Exploration, History, Literature, Love, Nature, Poetry, United Kingdom | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Simanolanoki

copy-shedding-new-light.jpg

 

[refrain]:

Simanolanoki Flow Away

Our love is broken on your shoals

The sacred fire that burned within my heart

Like you it ebbs and flows away

 

The hawk has flown away upon the wind

The breezes carry him away

The love I gave to you in heart and song

Like the hawk has flown away

[refrain]

Now like the empty field where once we roamed

Where only broken sherds remain

My heart is empty too, unworthy muse

My love for you has flown away

[refrain]

I’ve closed the book of love I wrote for you

Odshisi carries it away

My heart is mine again to give or break

Flow, Wild River, flow away

[refrain 2x]

Categories: Archaeology, Artifacts, Exploration, History, Indian Trails, Literature, Love, Nature, Poetry | Leave a comment

10,000 Years

 The Reader cannot read
The sleeper cannot sleep
The singer cannot sing
For love of you

The dreamer cannot dream

The diver cannot dive

Except into your eyes

Ageless and green

But the poet writes your soul

And the painter paints my heart

While 10,000 years of time

Smile through the ice

And 10,000 more may come

Before such souls may meet

And I would spend them all

O muse with you

 

Categories: Archaeology, Artifacts, Exploration, History, Literature, Love, Nature, Poetry, Primitive Skills | Leave a comment

Silent Tombs of Despair

Let yesteryear’s kisses lay hidden in the shadows of time,

For the ghosts who haunt time’s halls are silent and sad,

Though still they remember the fires and desires of love,

And they envy the fire in my heart and the flowers in your eyes;

Listen, o muse, to the song they would sing to your heart – 

Of death, who strangled their hopes, silenced their songs,

And buried their love in silent tombs of despair;

Their bones now rest ‘neath the Earth, though their shades remain, 

Chained to the places they haunted when their lips were warm;

Perhaps these spirits will awaken when you fling wide your soul,

Full of winter and storms, of springtime and sassafras tea – 

Perhaps even yesteryear’s sighs may meet with today’s

When we are the ghosts who sigh and long for one kiss,

And the poems and songs of tomorrow are sung o’er our graves.

 

Categories: Cemeteries, Exploration, Literature, Love, Nature, Poetry | Leave a comment

Musings on and Maxims for Maintaining Liberty on Extraterrestrial Colonies

Still from Star Trek episode Pattterns of Force

Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, & Dr. McCoy Disguised as Nazis in “Patterns of Force” (1968)

A while back a friend shared a link to an article regarding a group devising a bill of rights for the future colonization of the planet Mars (http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140709-why-mars-needs-a-bill-of-rights). Thinking of this entertained and distracted me much when I began this essay on a wintry morning in the former British colony of Georgia while watching the free-flying birds at the feeders outside my windows.   And while there are definite comparisons to be made to the concepts of freedom on some of the more interesting colonies depicted in the Star Trek universe, I will attempt to limit myself primarily to more mundane terrestrial and historical musings at first.

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Southeastern North America, 1732 (cartographer unknown)

While individual freedoms are the key to any post-1776 civilization (and many that came before), and I strongly admire the way the folks at the 2nd International Extraterrestrial Liberty Conference (ELC) are thinking about such things at the outset, it is clear from a reading of American history alone that personal liberty is NOT what initially made colonies successful in the past.  In fact, Spanish Florida, French Louisiana, and British Virginia, Carolina, & Georgia – as well as most other successful colonies in North America – had decidedly military, and some might say totalitarian, aspects to them. In fact, all colonists had very specific duties to perform if there was to be any hope of initial survival and later success. “No work, no food” was how John Smith was supposed to have phrased his expectations of the earliest Virginia colonists.

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“A Map of Virginia With a Description of the Country, the Commodities, People, Government and Religion” by John Smith, 1624

Exploration has followed the same disrespect for individual freedoms. The Kingdom of Spain, the British Admiralty, the U.S. space program NASA, and Hollywood’s “The Company” all had a chain of command when Hernando de Soto was exploring the American South for Spain, when Sir John Franklin was seeking the Northwest Passage for Britain, when Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and the other American astronauts were exploring the Moon, and when Captain Dallas and the crew of the Nostromo went to investigate the distress signal on Acheron (LV-426) in the original Alien movie.

john-hurt-as-kane-in-alien-1979

Kane (played by John Hurt) discovers a new life form on Acheron in Alien (1979)

But since ELC 2 is considering freedom, liberty, and colonization together, I will share the initial thoughts of an historical archaeologist who studies colonies, their impacts on indigenous peoples, and the traces both groups have left behind in the dirty old earth and in dusty old archives.  First of all, I am pleased that they are using the American Constitution’s Bill of Rights as a starting point.  I can think of no better place to begin.  However, it is clear from American history that Americans themselves have had varying ideas of liberty over time. It is also clear that checks and balances on all branches of government down to the lowest of local levels are a necessity for liberty to continue after it is initially won and/or established. Lord Acton’s historical axiom as laid out in his famous Letter to Mandell Creighton on April 5, 1887 clearly supports such suspicion towards authority: “If there is any presumption it is…against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

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Lord John Dahlberg Acton (1834-1902)

Because of the manner in which the onerous taxes that gave rise to the American proclamation of independence were instituted, and also because of the way the British government chose to prosecute the subsequent war against self-determination and against American independence, the Founding Fathers of the United States of America simply did not trust any government instituted by men.  And this wisely included their own government as instituted by themselves!  They had read deeply in Greek, Roman, European, British, and Irish history, and had learned from the past how short-lived republics can be.  The American Constitution of 1789 may have been a very imperfect 18th century political compromise between competing regions, but it was amazingly farsighted and gleamed of eruditic statesmanship when we consider how ignorantly shortsighted and poorly-read practically all modern party politicians across the planet appear to be in the 21st century.

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George Washington (1732-1799) by Rembrandt Peale, ca. 1850

For some reason endemic to humans and other animals, tribes and factions develop in all times and in all places – even in nations designed ro eschew them, like the U. S. For this reason the ELC should acknowledge that since human beings are human, factions will develop even on extraterrestrial colonies, and will devolve into established political parties if and when they gain enough followers. Subsequent American history bears out George Washington’s fears concerning factionalism, as explained in his Farewell Address. Standing political parties are much more dangerous than standing armies, since they wield much more power, even if it is only indirectly based on force. In fact, I would assert that political parties are probably the most dangerous threats to human liberty since the Sumerians created the concept of ama-gi, or freedom, in the 2300s BC. If “war is the continuation of politics by other means,” as von Clauswitz stated whilst attempting to explain the rise and fall of Napoleon, then political factionalism has been the primary if not sole factor behind every major war on Earth since at least the early 18th century’s War of the Spanish Succession.

Unfortunately, few listened to Washington in 1796, and even fewer heed him now. Humans seem to have a natural instinct to choose sides based on emotion and self interest, and only a very few make decisions based on reason, philosophy, and what is best for the commonweal as opposed to their own narrow interests. And of those who are capable of putting the commonwealth first, some of these “general secretaries” and “leaders” and “chairmen” have coldly and cruelly put into operation their “final solutions” to forever silence millions of their political opponents or their nation’s “undesirables” – as defined by themselves and their faction, of course. Stalin, Hitler, and Mao are only the most well-known of many heinous examples from Earth’s sordid history, and all are examples of the top-down approach of trusting in governments to solve our problems for us.

Of course, everything can and will go wrong in even the most well-thought-out colony – just look at all the numerous failed European attempts during the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries in the Americas. I will point to the Scottish colony at Darien in Central America as the perfect example. But even successful colonies like the English colony at Jamestowne (1607) had times when all was lost until the mother country sent assistance. In fact, the few survivors among the initial wave of colonists were once in the process of abandoning Virginia and heading home to England when supply ships suddenly arrived with necessities and more settlers. So the first maxim I would lay down for any extraterrestrial colony is routine shipments of supplies multiple times per year, and the continual replenishment of the population with young colonists in their child-bearing years.

Next, colonial planners on Earth and potential colonists must study Earth’s prehistoric and historic settlers and colonizers, from Neanderthal and other hunter-gatherer migrations, as well as the European colonization of the New World, Australasia, & Africa. It is vital that they grasp how migrations and emigrations have played out in Earth’s past, but this must not be mere book knowledge. As potential astronauts train for years before they even get the chance to be chosen for space missions, potential colonists need to go through several years of psychological and emotional vetting and practical training in basic medical techniques, primitive skills, agriculture, and animal husbandry to name but a few. Humans have constantly moved into new and unfamiliar environments throughout the prehistoric and historic eras, and studying and understanding the traces and records they left behind are crucial to successful colonists of tomorrow.

 

Successful colonists need to learn every primitive skill they can – especially flint-knapping to make their own stone tools, making cordage from plants and plant fibers in order to bind things together, and making pottery for cooking and storage purposes in case things go badly wrong and fresh supplies are late or not forthcoming.  They should also be experienced in the care and raising of livestock – especially chickens and cows, since they not only provide protein when harvested, but also provide eggs and milk. Successful colonists need to be omnivores who are able to eat anything, so I will add that I don’t see food snobs, vegetarians, vegans, or anyone with any kind of food hang-up at all surviving long in an extraterrestrial landscape. For example, European settlers in America had to learn from the Native Americans how to eat plants and animals they had never even heard of or seen before, and if they hadn’t learned to hunt and gather them, they would not have survived, pure and simple.

This is of course one of the best reasons not to colonize or settle a place, land, continent, or planet: if there is no water, no plants to gather, and no animal life to hunt and harvest. If there are no other life forms living there already, there might be a good reason for this, so I would also encourage our planners to  consider the difficulties of planting colonies on barren worlds like Mars, and to look for “Class M” planets instead.  Despite the utopian ideas of some space enthusiasts for inhabiting barren worlds and until we develop an actual Genesis Device as seen in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, abundant natural resources and breathable air must remain the most important variables for establishing extraterrestrial colonies just as they have been for all terrestrial ones.  Eadem sunt omnia semper.

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The Genesis Cave, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

True liberty must begin in the hearts and minds of individuals habituated to thinking and living independently of others, while giving of themselves and partaking of the mutual benefits of the social contract binding us together with our families, neighbors, bands, clans, tribes, chiefdoms, nations, and yes, our future extra-terrestrial colonies.  Even at lunar bases, on starships exploring the galaxy, and on frontier outposts on different worlds as well as on Earth’s farthest flung colonies, we must constantly be on guard against both factionalism as well as “the man on the white horse” seeking to rescue us from those factions and the upheavals they always generate.  Furthermore, colonial Martians, Venusians, Europaeans, etc. should be prepared to fight for their freedom and independence just like the former European colonies all over the world have done since 1776.  And they must never forget the “tyranny of the majority,” as Alexis de Tocqueville so aptly described the concept of simple majority rule and the bullying of minority populations in his brilliant 1835 classic Democracy in America.  

alexis-de-tocqueville

Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859)

There will be many challenges, failures, celebrations, tragedies,  wrongs, and beautiful success stories as the peoples of Earth spread themselves and their progeny across the universe.  The history of our own past colonial endeavors shows us this truth, and we would do well to learn these lessons well and never begin to think that we are wiser, stronger, smarter, or harder-working than our own frontier forebears.  In a word, we are not.  Anyone who believes that future human societies will evolve to be more morally advanced, more peaceful, and more generous, and less selfish, less rapacious, and less acquisitive has an exceedingly thin grasp on human history over the last 15,000 years, and practical examples from the past should be used to educate them out of their extreme idealistic ignorance.

If humans over the last 15 millennia have not changed their modus operandi – approaching every situation first and foremost from a position of self-interest – then they are not going to magically evolve into some kind of superior being in the next 15 millennia, either.  There are always willing fools who assist would-be dictators either actively, by marching in line with whatever might be the politically correct ideology of the day, whether it comes from the right or the left, while even more allow terrible events to transpire by passively sitting on their hands and doing nothing.  We must be constantly vigilant of our hard-won freedoms and cognizant of how they were won and lost and won again – whether our society is of this world or another.  Most importantly, our children must be historically-minded and educated in the principles of extreme skepticism towards every new faction and party that arises and promises to solve our problems if only we will trust them and be  willing to give up just a little bit more of our precious freedoms.

“These are the ones who, having good minds of their own, have further trained them by studying and learning. Even if liberty had entirely perished from the earth, such men would invent it.”

Etienne de la Boetie (1530-1563), The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude, 1577

Categories: Archaeology, Colonization, Exploration, History, Liberty, Primitive Skills | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

At the Twelve Pins

Twelve Pins Pub, Islington

Taxis and tourists, ice cream girl

waiting to cross with flowers in hand, crying,

while Daddy chases daughter in pink cap exploring, learning

Islington’s ways; working class guys and foreigners

walk with Irishmen, Arabs, and Africans; the quiet American

smoking his pipe at a table on the pub sidewalk –

first a Guinness then a Strongbow while he watches and waits – for what?

The Ginger Beauty? The Ice Cream Girl?  He exchanges

knowing looks with the daddy, baby daughter imprisoned

again in her pram; buses of red roaring down

Seven Sisters Road where Blackstock turns

downhill.  Just sit and watch and London

passes for the price of a pint or two at the Twelve Pins.

Categories: England, Exploration, Food & Drink, Poetry, Pubs, United Kingdom | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hargreaves Haiku

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Feldhase (Field Hare), painted by Albrecht Durer in 1502

The hare jumps to hide
within the creekside thicket –
I sit on a stone

Waiting here alone
the icy wind blows my hair –
without her I’m lost

Zipping up my coat
I hike on through Burgess Field –
too damn cold for tears

Categories: Art, England, Exploration, Literature, Love, Nature, Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Dine like a Gentleman or a Lady on your Remote Archaeological Expedition

Howard Carter and field team dining in Egypt at the Valley of the Kings in a tomb near King Tutankhamen's.  Photo taken by Lord Carnarvon

Howard Carter and field team dining in Egypt at the Valley of the Kings in a tomb near King Tutankhamen’s. Photo taken by Lord Carnarvon

In late 2014 a colleague and I went to a lecture at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, England on what can only be called “How to live like a gentleman whilst exploring the remotest corners of the world.” The talk was by the archivist from Fortnum and Mason’s, the elite London store catering to the culinary needs and wishes of aristocrats, gentlemen, and ladies the world over. F & M is especially known for its gift hampers full of chocolates, teas, wines, and jams, and it is definitely a thrilling experience to be on the receiving end of one of these hampers! Lord Carnarvon had crates of food and wines routinely delivered via ship from F & M while he and Carter were in Egypt searching for King Tut’s tomb. Today archaeologists and explorers can still get this kind of delivery on their expeditions no matter where they are in the world. One day I shall have to partake of this excellent service, though it would help immensely if I had a patron of that ilk!

Fortnum & Mason Christmas Hamper

Fortnum & Mason Christmas Hamper

“In the 1920s, Fortnum and Mason was the only store (oddly enough) to have a department that functioned solely to service ‘Expeditions’. This way, true English gentlemen could make their great discoveries in the far corners of the earth whilst never relinquishing the essentials of butter knives and foie gras. Fortnum and Mason not only supplied hampers to Howard Carter’s 1922 expedition, but thereafter empty wine boxes were employed to store and catalogue the finds. The intrepid amongst us will be happy to know that Fortnum and Mason still sponser expeditions, ensuring that no matter how far into the unknown one ventures, marmalade and fudge are not far behind. Unfortunately it would appear that the more recently catered adventures are those instigated by the children of the board.” Quoted from http://www.ashmolean.org/ashwpre…/underthevaults/…/25/week4/

Categories: Archaeology, England, Exploration, Food & Drink, Museums | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

To R. H. in Manchester, with Love from Georgia

Dee & Rosemary, Manchester, 1944, most likely with her sister Barbara and mother Beatrice

Dee & Rosemary, Manchester, 1944, most likely with her sister Barbara and mother Beatrice

I once rambled to Manchester, England on a pilgrimage of love and a mission of nostalgia. There I communed with both living spirits and the shades of yesteryear. But since obscurity will not tell the tale, let me explain.

When my great uncle Ellied (“Ellie D” or just “Dee”) Douglas died childless in 2001, my maternal aunts and uncles became his sole heirs. Each niece and nephew inherited something belonging to Uncle Dee, and my mother happened to receive an old trunk full of many of his precious memories. The most interesting of the items in this trunk had to do with World War II, in which he served as a Warrant Officer in the U. S. Army. The saddest of these were the personal effects belonging to his brother Paul, who died in the reinvasion of the Philippines in early 1945. Uncle Dee had kept Paul’s civilian clothes, glasses, other mementos, and even some special Japanese paper money and coins that American soldiers, marines, and sailors used as they island-hopped across the Pacific. But the most fascinating things left behind by my great uncle were the series of letters to him from an English girl by the name of Rosemary Higginbottom of Manchester, England.

Dee was a farm boy from rural south Georgia who had been working in a cotton mill when he joined the army on August 6, 1942 at Fort McPherson, Atlanta at the age of 25. He could have had no idea how far the war would take him or of the lifelong attachments he would make when he set out on his journey. Although I am still trying to work out many of his whereabouts during that conflagration, the family has long known of his lost love in Manchester, and how he was sent into France with the army in September 1944 and presumably never saw her again. It appears that he was sent to Manchester for training as a Warrant Officer in the spring of 1944, and it was there that he met and fell in love with Rosemary and she with him.

Dee and many other American soldiers were billeted in houses with English host families who were paid for this by the U. S. Government. This was badly needed money, since it was a time of unbelievable hardship across Britain, much worse than the situation in the United States. The Blitz had even hit Manchester and other northern English cities, and life on the home front was exceedingly tough for families just trying to exist until the hoped-for victory would occur and their boys could come home. At any rate, somehow and somewhere Dee and Rosemary met and fell in love, and although we do not have his letters to her, we know a little of their life together in the southern Manchester area called Withington from her beautiful letters to him.

Dee Douglas, Manchester, England, 1944

Dee Douglas, Manchester, England, 1944

On this pilgrimage d’amour to friendly Manchester, I was fortunate enough to meet some lovely people who were fascinated by the story of Dee and Rosemary. Two of these were Phil the retired merchant seaman and Sarah the barmaid at the Victoria Pub in relaxed Withington, whither I had wandered down from the busy city centre. Perhaps Dee and Rosemary once visited this very pub together, since it had been established in Victorian days! I may never know. At any rate, today the Victoria is full of local characters and friendly faces, who listened to the tale and gave me some directions that helped me find the house where I believe Rosemary, her sister Barbara, and her mother Beatrice lived with her father during the war years.

The Victoria Pub, Withington

The Victoria Pub, Withington

Based on the address on her letters to Dee, the topography in the back garden (as the Brits call the back yard) as shown in the 1944 photos above, and confirmed by my expeditionary pedestrian survey as assisted by Google Maps, I do believe I actually found and visited the former Higginbottom home at 49 Ashdale Drive, Withington, Manchester 20, England! This confirmation is primarily based on the berm running behind the house in the photos, which is still behind the house at that address today, and holds the elevated track of the Manchester Tram running to Withington.

49 Ashdale Drive, Withington in October 2015

49 Ashdale Drive, Withington today

Heart on Door of 49 Ashdale Drive, Withington

Heart on Door of 49 Ashdale Drive, Withington

It was a very fulfilling experience, and I am so glad I was able to honor the memories of my Uncle Dee and his Rosemary by making this pilgrimage. As I said before, they evidently never met again after Dee was shipped off to France, although they wrote letters to each other for a number of years after Dee came home to Georgia after the war. It appears that Rosemary eventually married Charles E. Heaton in Manchester in 1951, although I do not know if they had children or not. Much later in life Uncle Dee married the woman who became my Aunt May. They never had any children.

But in an odd way there is a living link between Rosemary and her Dougie. When he returned home to Georgia in 1945 at the close of the war, evidently all he could talk about was his Rosemary. It just so happened that his brother Chester’s wife Eva was great with child then, so when a daughter was born to them on September 14, 1945 – a year after the last meeting of the lovers in our tale – they decided to name her Rosemary, after Rosemary Higginbottom of Manchester, England. And that second Rosemary happens to be my mother.

[September 1944]

My Darling Sweetheart

I shall be able to give you this letter in person this morning. I am glad that I am coming down to see you for I have still to hear you do some more talking.

I must just make one reference to last night. Dearest I am sorry but really I should have known only the trouble was explaining to the family over a film. When you kissed me before going last night the hurt the evening had caused died right out and if you hadn’t been very near to going I should have felt on top of the world.

I have very many happy hours to thank you for. And here’s the Big Thank You – when you leave me today I am hoping with all my heart that it won’t be good bye forever. You sure are the grandest & best pal a girl could ever wish for & I could never wish for a better one ever. I love you very much Dougie and when you are away I want to think all on my own. I should like to know one day if I needed you if you would come to me. Dear you have shown me far more than Joe ever did how much you love me and I am not
the kind of girl to forget my friends & never my best ones.

I should have asked you about the coins* for my arm or neck & please oh let me have them for that is something I should like more than anything else. I would always keep it to. I must close now & wherever you are or go I shall always be thinking of you.

All my love & very best wishes my Darling
Your English girl
Rosemary xxxxxxxxxx

Rosemary Higginbottom to Ellied Douglas, Letter from September 1944

*Note: the obscure reference to coins for her arm or neck indicate that Rosemary wanted to make a necklace or bracelet out of coins given to her by Dougie. This was a common gift to the girls, wives, and mothers back home, and called Sweetheart Jewelry.

Categories: England, Exploration, Love, World War II | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Imaginative Camping, Indian Trails, and British Traders

Early 21st Century Primitive Campsite

Early 21st Century Primitive Campsite

I definitely have greater respect for British classically-trained actors who cut their teeth on Shakespeare and Sophocles, whilst breaking a leg on stage, than I do for Hollywood method actors who feel the need to “live the role” for their latest blockbuster movie. This is precisely the difference between the performances of Laurence Olivier and Dustin Hoffman in the thriller “Marathon Man.” However, there is still something to be said for attempting to get into the mindset of the characters we wish to understand by comprehensively researching them, immersing ourselves into similar conditions, and then using our imaginations. This can even be a useful tool for archaeologists attempting to comprehend the lives of the peoples they study. For instance, I study the Creek Indians and the British traders with whom they interacted. And though I can never truly understand all the myriad “primitive” experiences of the Creek or the Scottish, Irish, Welsh, and English traders who traveled the Southeast 300 years ago, sometimes camping out in the woods for a few days helps spark the imagination in ways that can lead to tiny epiphanies.

For example, knowing what camping gear I usually take into the woods does help clarify the kinds of things these traders might have packed on their horses for survival in the deep woods as they crisscrossed the South on ancient Indian trails, and forded or traveled up and down our beautiful rivers. On these sylvan peregrinations, whether by land via foot or pack horse, or by water via pole boat, they visited the towns of the Yamasee, Shawnee, Apalachicola, Cherokee, the Creek Confederation (including towns belonging to the Hitchiti, Muscogee, Yuchi, Chehaw, Westo, etc), and others. But this also means that they spent a great deal of time in between Indian towns, camping in the woods or along rivers or creeks near the preexisting Indian trails connecting them to humanity. Some of these trails still exist today, if you know both the history and where to look for them. There are numerous examples around Middle Georgia, for instance, including those with the poetic-sounding names of Okfuskenene – the “Path to Okfuskee” – and Chelucconeneauhassee – literally the “Old Horse Path.” The former became known to the traders as the Upper Trading Path, while the latter they called the Lower Creek Trading Path.

Major Indian Trails in Georgia, Marion R. Hemperley, 1979

Major Indian Trails in Georgia, Marion R. Hemperley, 1979

Since these traders adopted many of the ways and material culture of the Indians amongst whom they lived, I would not be surprised if they learned how to construct and organize their camping spots from the same source. Perhaps they constructed their camps similar to the Indian camp depicted by the Salzburger emigrant Philip Georg Friedrich von Reck, who arrived in Georgia from England in 1734, kept an important journal, and used his considerable artistic talents to document the Indians and natural history of his new home.

An Indian Camp, Georgia, Von Reck, ca. 1734

An Indian Camp, Georgia, Von Reck, ca. 1734

Sitting in my own camp before a fire in the woods one morning after eating some fried bacon and scrambled eggs for breakfast, I listened to the sounds of the waking woods, drank some strong black coffee, and seemed to be able to imagine human beings not so different from myself camping under similar conditions while listening to the same sounds I could still hear hundreds of years later. What did they think about though, these traders who had left “civilization” behind and come to the forests of Southeastern North America to begin again? Upon arriving in Charleston or Savannah, what made them choose to leave other Europeans behind and strike out as explorers and traders across a landscape completely outside of their own experience? The trails were like arteries, carrying them away from the heart of the European coastal settlements, but then changing into veins carrying them toward the heart of the Indian towns.

And what of their hearts? Did they see only money, only personal advantage in their dealings with their trading partners? We know that by 1715 the Yamasee and the Creek felt mistreated and abused by many of these traders, and this led to the greatest and most dangerous Indian war that occurred in the colonial South – the Yamasee War. But the traders also seemed to prefer living amongst the Indians, adopting their buckskin clothes and more easy-going lifestyle. So these foreigners truly felt an affinity for the natives, though each trader lived a double life. He would have to bring new trade goods in and take the results of his trade back out. And what did the British want that the Indians had? Deerskins and Indian slaves. Deerskins were turned into European leather goods, book covers, hats, and other items of apparel, and Indian slaves were sent to to work on Caribbean plantations where nearly all of them quickly died from diseases.

In fact, the currency of the backwoods, and for the Southern colonies during their earliest decades, was usually deerskin. According to the “Journals of the Commissioners of the Indian Trade,” the prices for trade goods in 1716 were established as follows: Guns (30 buckskins each); Pistols (20 each), a Cutlass (8 each); Duffield blankets (14 each); Hatchets (2 each); and 1 buckskin each for rum mixed with 1/3 water per bottle, or fifty bullets, or three strings of beads, or eighteen flints, or a pair of scissors.

Did the traders, who usually worked for wealthier men, merely inventory their goods and chuckle as they ruminated on their portion of the profits as they made their trips back and forth from the coastal cities to the interior Indian towns? Did they feel relieved to be away from the cities? Were they happy to see old friends in the woods and towns, and did they enjoy making new ones? Did they feel apprehension for some unseen and unknown foe while on the trails? Did they have remedies for keeping away ticks and mosquitoes, were they worried about alligators, rattlesnakes and cottonmouths, and did they study the ways of the possum, the raccoon, the bear, the panther, and the deer? Did they keep journals, now lost to time, documenting their lives amongst the Ochisee, Okmulgee, Kawita, and Kasita?

Many of these things we shall never know. But it is a very enjoyable experience to camp in the woods away from the sights and sounds of modernity, and to imagine for a few moments – at dawn or dusk when all the world is quiet – that the year is A. D. 1700, and that the people, plants, birds, woods, and animals are all yet to be classified and studied. And all of them are a wonder to behold!

The Woods of Natural Wonder

The Woods of Natural Wonder

Categories: Archaeology, Exploration, Indian Trails | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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Manufactured Bodies

The Impact of Industrialisation on Health in London

Ontario Camper

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Klint Janulis: Stone Age Student

Wild Food, Photography and Stone Age Archaeology

The human past

archaeology, history, humans, science

leslinetmd

Psychiatry, Child Psychiatry, Parental Alienation

Public Lies

Parental Alienation Blog, supported by Parental Rights Preservation NJ

Southeast Native Food

Sharing Traditional Knowledge of Southeast Native American Food

wildchow

CHASING DOWN LIFE IN THE WOODS...ONE CRITTER AT A TIME!

One Man's Meat

Multi-award winning food blog, written in Dublin, Ireland.

Ruination Scotland

Derelict Mansions from the Borders to the Highlands

Bespoke Traveler

Immersive Tales for the Curious Traveler

Zygoma

Adventures in natural history collections

Better Know A Child Ballad

A 305 part series

lateglacial

Exploring Late Glacial Archaeology

Adventures in Cemetery Hopping

A blog by Traci Rylands

Bones Don't Lie

Current News in Mortuary Archaeology and Bioarchaeology

Archaeodeath

Archaeology, Mortality & Material Culture

The Byron Herbert Reece Society

Devoted to the legacy of the Appalachian poet Byron Herbert Reece

Visions Of The Past

Irish history, Irish ruins, Ireland history, Ireland ruins, Abandoned Ireland

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