The birds

This entry is part 5 of 16 in the series Postcards from a Conquistador

Poem: 'The forest went halfway to forever. There was a kind of dove so numerous that one flock could darken the sky for a day. It wasn't natural.'

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7 Comments


  1. The other day I had an epiphany (ugh, did I actually say that?) about Daniel Boone et al. How they “discovered” a land, Kentucky, where living was easy and turned it into a land where living is hard. Something to celebrate, huh?

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  2. And Boone grew up in Pennsylvania, too. The archetypal frontiersman in many ways. Not the exact analogue of a conquistador, of course – in Western PA, that would be more the land speculators, I suppose. Guys like George Washington.

    But yeah, the original forest was something of a cornucopia, with game, medicines and mast in quantities we can barely begin to imagine.

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  3. Something quite obscene about that stump of tree.

    Interesting series.

    Have a good holiday, Dave.

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  4. I’ve been thinking a lot about how powerful, and powerfully oppressive, the counter-eden myth of our origins is — the idea that in the stone age we lived in scarcity, leading miserable lives. The little I’ve read suggests that there’s no reason to think that true, that actually most of us lived where there was plenty of good hunting & gathering, and we probably made our livings on a few hours’ work a day.

    If you’re trying to keep people happily (or anyway not rebelliously) working sixty hour weeks, you’re not going to want that sort of information to get around.

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  5. Lucy – You too. Glad you’re enjoying this series.

    dale – Yes indeed. My reading of the anthropological literature has played a very large role in my political thinking – which is not to say that I romanticize indigenous societies, of course.

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  6. Here the Europeans wipe out the Indians with both war and small pox and then later wipe out the passenger pigeons that ‘darkened the skys’.

    This is a fascinating concept for a series. The disgruntled thoughts of a European ‘soldier’ fish out of water, so unable to appreciate our native people or the native natural beauty of the land. Still, I thought they had landed a bit farther south. Perhaps I should have stayed awake in Jr. Hi American History.

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  7. Joan – I’m glad you’re liking the series. I had intended “conquistador” to be kind of a multivalent image, allowing anachronisms both historic and geographic. I want to consider the conquest as an ongoing process spanning half a millennium.

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