REFLECTIONS ON A PILE OF BONES
Getting some exercise with Max today, walking in an area that was logged off a few years ago, I saw some small crystals sparkling at me from a rock lying at my feet, tiny facets glinting in the sun. I raked aside the leaves a bit, to get a closer look, and came upon a pile of weather-bleached bones, probably deer. While Max enjoyed a chew, I relaxed and began to think. Not too long ago, perhaps a year, this had been a live, breathing, warm-blooded creature, not all that different from me, a live, conscious entity, walking through the woods, looking for a place to lie down and die. Is that what I am doing, even though I have no such thought in mind? It’s just a matter of fact, that sooner or later, I will leave behind a pile of bones too, the now-sturdy bones to which I am attached, that have enabled me to experience the pleasures and pains, joys and sorrows, glories and griefs of life on this planet.
Then I thought of my parents. I know where their bones lie buried, they are side by side, just as they were in life, and there’s actually a place reserved there for my bones too, when I’m done with them. The bones of my parents, my four grand-parents, and one pair of great-grand-parents are buried in three different graveyards in Iron and St. Francois Counties in Southern Missouri. But, beyond that, I don’t know. Their parents, grand-parents, great-grand parents, etc., my ancestors, left behind a lot of bones, scattered across the landscape with various strands of DNA in their marrow that make up some of what and who I am today. They left their bones behind years ago somewhere in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa; piles of bones, extending back in time, even to the Pyramids and the Ancient City of Petra, and beyond. Stones and bones… and what memories were recorded, stored to be hidden or revealed, in those stones and bones! Will I ever know? Yes, I think so, because nothing is ever totally lost, nothing is created or destroyed, only changed in form, and clues always remain.
I have big thick book, compiled by one of my mother’s cousins, tracing one line of my ancestry back to Central Europe, and I have had my DNA analyzed. From family history, facts and fictions passed down, I thought I knew that I was half German, about a quarter Irish, about a quarter Scott, but part of that might be Native American ‘Indian’. Past five or six generations, seven at most, - that’s a mere 150 years or so - DNA tracing is more of an art than a science, even though it is being improved as we speak. It turns out that there’s little doubt that what I thought I knew about my ancestors from family lore, was only a very rough estimate of the truth.
Analysis and re-analysis of my DNA has revealed that the one-half German part was actually from a mixture of ancestors who lived in what is now Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, and Russia, and their ancestors, along with those of my Scott and Irish immigrant ancestors, were probably mostly Vikings! Also, some of the German part also had roots in Eastern Europe, Northern Africa, Greece, and the Middle East. Even farther back, of course, we are all related unless you are a recently-arrived ET! At any rate, the history of this ball of mystery revolving around a medium-sized star, on the fringe of an arm of the Milky-Way Nebula, is cleverly written in stones and bones!