Meandering

Author: 
Bobbie Ann Howell

Okay, so in my first blog I may have confused essay and blog. I do, however, like the idea of “ramblings” quite a bit and this has given me a little freedom to meander. Meandering, it is comforting to know, has been going on for eons – people moving about and crossing over the paths of others, looking for new horizons, places, people, and resources – going on a “walk about” as Rachel, my office mate, now has me saying. I think of all the great quests found in literature and history, meandering in the real world and within our minds. Ideas mull around inside our thoughts looking for a place to land.

This train of thought lead me to a brief hallway chat with Joanne Goodwin, Director of the Woman’s Research Institute of Nevada, about some mapping ideas I have been thinking about: all the ways our paths cross over each other, the same paths we cross ourselves each week and over time, and the people who came before us. I was privileged to work at the Lost City Museum in Overton, Nevada. They have a wonderful collection of pottery with beautiful meandering patterns, baskets with designs inspired from the desert surroundings, incised stone drawings, and thousands of arrowheads. Just looking at the volume of arrowheads is humbling when you think about what it took to keep making these tools every day, how we often put arrowheads in lovely display boxes and admire their beauty, and how in reality they were used daily for survival and were mostly lost or destroyed in the process.

My lunchroom was the picnic table on the bluff behind the museum; it is the place where the pueblos have been reconstructed on top of the ruins left by the ancient inhabitants of the Moapa Valley. The pueblos and the pit house are favorite places for all visitors to the museum and especially to take pictures.  Hopefully it is one of the places where, if you live in or grew up in Southern Nevada, you may have visited or gone on a field trip for Nevada history in the 4th or 5th grade. It is a place everyone brings their kids and tells of their explorations when they were children. I have heard it many times – people sharing this experience, thinking what it would be like to live in the pueblo, to look across the valley to the distant mesa, to see the river below, and to know this is a place people have been coming to for a very long time. You can stand were they stood and imagine. 

One afternoon I met a man who brought his grandchildren to see the museum. He was so glad to see that the pueblos were still there, as he had not been to Nevada since he was stationed at Nellis Air Force Base just before being sent to Vietnam. He and several of his fellow airmen decided to explore the surrounding desert before they were to leave for war – to think about other things for just a moment. And on this day, in that place, he stood looking and recalling their young faces peering out of the pueblo doors, and it is why he came: to visit those from the past, to cross their path once more, and to share it.

I hope this is what a blog is for, as I often travel far off course, and perhaps I may have spent too much time deeply breathing in the air this week – air that was so lovely with that last bite of winter in the breeze. My hope is you will take a moment to meander a bit and tell someone else a rambling story of your own.

Visit the Lost City Museum

Related articles on the ONE:
Lost City Archaeology
Pueblo Grande de Nevada: Lost City
Prehistoric Trade at Lost City

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