Travelling a familiar road along the Thompson River last year I noticed a white line in the eroding benchland. Long ago the road was cut into this benchland and exposed some geographical layers. These are some of the earliest chapters that carved out the history of this Thompson River valley in British Columbia.
I assumed that the white line was the Volcanic Ash layer from the ancient Mount Mazama in Oregon some 6700 years ago. I like to look at layers of dirt deposits as it is like pages in a storybook. I pay attention to stuff like this because my Father introduced me to Geology as a child.
So this spring I stopped to look at that white layer. But this was not ash because ash does not sparkle in the sunlight! What I discovered was a layer of ancient mussel shells embedded between the clay silt dirt and smoothly rolled bedrock. These shells were preserved in the layers of mud and silt that built up due to recurrent flooding and receding waters of glacial lakes to form the Thompson River benchlands.
Now it does seem absurd to see mussel shells in a semi arid desert terrain. I admired my un-fossilized discovery as I gazed far away at the Volcanic cliffs to the north where a famous fossil bed contains layers and layers of leaf, bug and fish fossils.
Researching on the Internet I was able to read a SFU Masters Thesis by Shauna Huculak January 2004 and another SFU Masters Thesis by Corene T. Lindsay December 2003. Both made references to Freshwater Mollusks on the Interior Plateau of British Columbia around 4200 to 5700 years ago during what is referred to as the Early Nesikep or Lehman Phase. These Mollusks or Mussels were a last resort food source for natives who primarily depended on Salmon, Elk and Deer. It is also noted Natives at this time were migrant and preceded life in Pit houses until much later in history. Cool hey!
The purpose of my writing and photography is to notice and pay attention in nature and allow these experiences to inspire and stretch my creativity. For when we experience a deeper connection to something in the natural world, it strengthens our attachment to the interdependent web of life. It is from these moments that we can be inspired by past and future generations and other life forms. This enables us to to respond to the present condition of our world and meet the challenges to create sustainable societies.
“INSIGHTS INTO THE BASIC MIRACLE OF OUR EXISTENCE - be they from generational living systems theory, Buddhist teachings, or other ancient voices- have broken upon us in the very century that has brought us to the brink of destroying our planet as a home for conscious life. They are fundamental and far-reaching enough to help us liberate a Life-sustaining Society. If we can let these insights shape our own life purposes, they can enable the Great Turning.”
From Pg 57, Chapter 4 THE WORK THAT RECONNECTS In the book, COMING BACK TO LIFE- Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, our World by Joanna Macy & Molly Young Brown 1998.
For more information about Joanna Macy or The Great Turning please visit Joanna Macy’s website which has abundant and inspiring information.