I’m not the first one to live here.

Pulling up weeds today, I found this in the dirt clinging to the roots, covered in dirt. I recognized it immediately, even without my glasses on, since I’ve got a large can full of similar ones. Still, finding a new artifact always makes my day.

Small arrow point I dug up in my garden.

This area is the second open oak savanna up Redwood Creek from the Eel River valley, so was understandably a popular hangout for Native people who lived here before. They probably gathered and processed acorns under the very trees next to my house. Much of this parcel was graded and reshaped before I bought it, so many artifacts are long-buried under fill in the low areas. The area near the house and oak trees is still very near the original grade and that’s where I find most of these points.

This particular one is fairly crude, possibly a reject or one made by a child. Or maybe it got run over by a bulldozer too many times. I have others that are very finely flaked and still have respectably sharp edges. Some were obviously chosen for the nice color patterns in the stone.

When I find nice points, I amuse myself by imagining the conversations. “Aw crap! Missed that rabbit! Now where did my arrow go?” Or, “junior, have you been playing with my bow and arrow again? I can’t find my obsidian points, the ones I traded all that deer jerky for last year.” These things are, after all, just the equivalent of old tools that got lost and eventually buried.

There are some obsidian ones here and there, but they’re rare, obviously trade goods. I don’t know where the nearest obsidian deposits are, but there are none around here.

The other thing old arrowheads remind me of is the amount of crap we’re leaving on the land. All the Native people left were inert objects that provide a sense of craft and wonder when found. We’re leaving material reminders of our visit here by the ton, from concrete and steel to plastic and toxic waste. My house is about 95% straw, wood and clay, so would mostly decompose if left to its own devices over time. There’s still the foundation and all the steel that would be here for a while.

When I bought this land, it was totally trashed, covered in garbage, dead cars and scrap metal. Most of the orchard was then a dirt bike track and the tweeker neighbors across the street had been dumping used motor oil and burning trash here for decades.

During some of the early earthworking on the place I unearthed a large, gorgeous spear point, still the nicest one I’ve ever found. In making decisions about what to do on this land, I’ve kept it as a reminder of a do no harm ethic. If this place were abandoned for the next 50 years, there would be some junk left to clean up as the buildings decayed, but not too terribly much. Otherwise, everything I’ve done here has dramatically improved the land.

There is topsoil and an orchard in the old dirt bike track. The gullies eroding into the creek have been fixed. The toxic waste has been removed. Several major dumps cleaned up. Swales built to help infiltrate rainwater into the soil. So whatever happens in the future, at least for now the place is better off than I found it.

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