Cold weather, cold in my head, wet days; all conspired recently to keep me in the house and I was going a bit stir crazy. When the rain stopped and the clouds parted yesterday, Bessie Anne and I went out for a walk in the afternoon sunshine and a breath of fresh air. Bess thought it might be a good idea to head toward the grinding rock in the south pasture and I followed. Out of habit, I walked around the big granite rocks looking for pieces of glass left from target practice by the former residents. After fifteen years of cleaning up after those people I was positive there couldn't be any left but, sure enough, I found three large shards that had perked up out of the soil to the surface.
The south pasture is the largest area of cleared land on the property. Until I expanded the goat pen, these rocks were in the middle of the pasture. At one time, there must have been oak trees all over. As near as I can ascertain, this would have been Miwok Indian territory long ago. Down in Pine Grove, Indian Grinding Rock Park has a huge stone with over a thousand cups where the tribes had made flour from acorns. I once had an enlightening conversation with a Miwok woman who explained that it took a year to make a loaf of bread. After gathering and shelling, the acorns had to be soaked over and over to leach out the bitter tannins (which could cause illness), then dried completely before grinding into flour. Even the gathering process was tedious. I'm thinking of Tree Guy showing me how to look for the tiny pinholes that told of a worm inside. How many thousands of acorns must it have taken to make a pound of flour? How many pounds of flour would it take to feed a tribe? Who ever looked at an acorn and thought it would be good to eat in the first place? Why don't the tannins affect the animals and birds who eat the acorns?
Too cold to sit on the rock in the weak sunshine, I could still let my mind go free-wheeling, thinking about the history embodied in this chunk of stone. It was a good day.