Source: The Agile Rabbit Book of Historical and Curious Maps
by Pepin van Roojen © 2005
I’ve been thinking about layers of time. The recorded history of Beaver Creek is a mere blink of the eye in the greater scheme of things. Most written source documents occurred within the last 150 years. Yet the evidence of those and earlier stories can still be found in languages that use other kinds of marks than the alphabet I am used to, leave other kinds of traces, if I only could translate them. The stories I know about a place affect how I look at the landscape.
I found that when the moment was right, by concentrating on some external object, an arrowhead...for example,...I was able to perceive something more than a simple mental picture of what some past event was like. I not only could see the event or the place in my mind’s eye, but would also hear it, smell the woodfires; and sometimes, for just a flash...I would actually be there, or so it seemed.
-----John Hanson Mitchell, Ceremonial Time: Fifteen Thousand Years on One Square Mile (1984)
In a sense all time is happening all the time. Bits of these strata bleed through to other eras. They are evident in the geologic events that formed the shape of the land (the carving effects of glaciers, shell fossils of former sea beds, obsidian of past volcanic eruptions, for example). Here on the Central Oregon Coast, buried and preserved tree trunks have been discovered that are revealed and covered by ever moving beach sand. They point to where the forest edge once was. Plant and soil analysis tells how long the land has been wet.
In more recent history, there are still remnants of pioneer-era fence posts at the edges of the marsh, where the waters were drained out enough to allow pasture land for farm animals. A line of small conifer trees and shrubs across one edge of the marsh delineates the site of a railroad trestle used in logging. Charred snags from historic wildfires transformed into nurse trees sprouting new seedlings. Traces of past reconstituted into the forms we see today.
“Maps are a way of organizing wonder.”
-----Peter Steinhart, “Names on a Map” (1986)
Posted by jackie.