In the Movies, It’s Never a Good Sign When the Dead Leave Their Graves

But it real life, it’s harder to tell if it’s an omen when they find 6,000 year old bones at Clee’s Landing, there at the end of Bell’s Bend (speak

The shore is littered with tiny white shells, to mark the burial place above.

The shore is littered with tiny white shells, to mark the burial place above.

of the Devil).

The Nashvillest asks, “Who the heck was in Tennessee 6,000 years ago besides the dinosaurs!?” and I am happy to report that I now know that the people who were in Bell’s Bend 6,000 years ago were doing then what folks in Bell’s Bend do now–hunting, fishing, and experimenting with growing things.  They lived in small groups, usually three or four related families, and some of them would have been following the game and others of them would have settled into small fishing villages.  They would have been on the verge of figuring out how to grow squash and gourds.

Those bones, in fact, probably belong to the very people who put the white shells along the bottom of the bend to mark where in the river bank they buried their dead.

So, that’s who was here, folks who hunted and fished and who put their dead people near the river, so that they would always been near the lifeblood of their people.

What a Cute Bellybutton I Have!

The main difference that strikes me between what I do here and what I do at Pith is that here I feel very confident in my abilities.  I know what I know and I feel good about saying what I know and admitting what I don’t know and letting that be good enough, and interesting.

When I write for Pith, though, I’m really humbled all the time by how much I don’t know, about how much more about anything there is to learn about everything.  And yet, you have to write from where you are, which is always from a place of general ignorance.  Not that that’s not true here, of course.  We are all most mysterious to ourselves.  But here I feel like I have the luxury of figuring that whatever it is can be sorted out later, if I screw up talking about it the first time.

I have been thinking a lot about how I am always confined by my own experience, and yet, always struggling against it.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what Mike Moore said about how there have been people living in Bell’s Bend for over ten thousand years.  And I think about my friends who go to Europe and say that the weirdest thing about being in Europe is how old everything is, how there’s this constant sense of being surrounded by thousands of years of history.

And, frankly, I feel robbed.  Because I know that, when I’m standing in the Bend, I’m surrounded by thousands of years of history and I don’t know how to see it, how to make myself understand that as true.  I read online that the white banks of the Cumberland just north of the boat ramp are from people putting shells there for thousands of years.  And I’ve been there and stood at the end of the ramp and seen the white shore and I don’t know how to see it.  I mean, I see the shells.  I don’t know how to experience that as something ancient.

I think that it’s because I don’t have a story about it.  And that’s part of the purpose of stories, I think, to give you a hook with which to grasp the meaning of the things around you.

For as long as I’ve lived in Nashville, I’ve always felt like the underlying tension of the city is that with one hand it’s writing stories you wish you know while with its other hand, it’s smudging the ink.