Saturday, August 2, 2014

Ghosts of the Heart and Catastrophic Storms!

Click the Link - Ghosts of the Heart by John Bradford Branney
               The Scene: 10, 700 years ago, in a place one day  
                                would be called Colorado.

Wanbli Cikala and He Wonjetah stood on the bank of the creek, bracing themselves against the gale-force winds and onslaught of flying sand and gravel. The black dust blizzard was directly in front of them, carrying silt and sand high into the air. “It will miss us!” Wanbli Cikala screamed, more of a hope than a fact.

Slol wa yea shnee! – I do not know!” He Wonjetah screamed into the wind.

The sand and gravel pelted their faces while their dust-filled eyes streamed tears into the wind. In a wasted effort, both men held their arms in front of their noses and mouths, attempting to protect their faces from sand and gravel. Tree limbs from the dead pine forest flew past the two men like
spears thrown by the gods. With one arm, He Wonjetah grabbed Wanbli Cikala by the arm and literally pulled him down into the creek bottom. The sky was as black as the darkest night when the front edge of the black dust blizzard exploded on the Arid Plains on top of the tribe. He Wonjetah and Wanbli Cikala stumbled around in the creek bottom, looking for a place that shielded them from the abrasive sand.

Finally, He Wonjetah just shoved Wanbli Cikala to the ground, falling on top of him. The winds roared over them as sand and silt poured into the deeper depression of the creek bottom. He Wonjetah could not breathe as he searched for air to fill his lungs while choking on the thick dust. He heard Wanbli Cikala underneath him, wheezing and coughing as silt and sand poured into the creek bottom, filling it up. The drifting sand and silt would soon bury the tribe unless they kept moving. He Wonjetah stood up and the cyclonic winds knocked him back down.

What would you think if this suddenly appeared
and you had never seen or heard of a tornado?

The passage above is from Ghosts of the Heart, the second book in my Shadows on the Trail Trilogy. In this passage, the Folsom People were traveling through a once-upon-a-time pine forest, a pine forest that no longer existed because of climate change near the end of the Pleistocene. On this once-forest, now-desert location, the Folsom People encountered a frightful sight, a black blizzard or dust storm of epic proportion. The Folsom People were stuck in the middle of this desert with no place to run or hide, except to the bottom of a dry creek bed. The passage showed how two of the tribal elders named Wanbli Cikala and He Wonjetah dealt with this hair-raising experience.  

Now, I am going to ask you to close your eyes and imagine yourself witnessing either a gigantic tornado, a massive dust storm or a devastating hailstorm for the very first time. But, before you close your eyes, imagine you have a time machine and can go back in time to 10,700 years ago in the Pleistocene Epoch, before the science even existed that could adequately explain the causes of these forces of nature. Now, imagine that when you step into the time machine, you leave your knowledge and memories in the 21st Century. You are now living in the Pleistocene Epoch without any kind of knowledge or memories on what causes tornados or dust storms. Okay, now that I have set the stage, close your eyes and unharness your vivid imagination.

Photograph of a dust storm in central United States in the 1930s.

Are your eyes open yet? Good. Wipe your memory of everything you know about weather and storms. I know this is darn near impossible to do. Once we have learned something it is very difficult, if not impossible, to unlearn it. I want you to imagine you are a member of the Folsom People tribe and you are roaming the plains and prairies of Texas and Colorado in search of food. You would have no knowledge of what makes weather change or storms appear. How do you think you would explain storms? Remember, we have wiped out your modern-day memory. Perhaps, you and the other Folsom People would blame these phenomena on an all-powerful being, creating these mysteries of nature. This is not too far off. Our early ancestors did this as well. 

The Pleistocene was no place for wimps. The Folsom People not only had to deal with the predatory animals that wanted to put them on their menu (yes, humans were part of the food chain, not the top of the food chain), but they also had to deal with the ravages of storms associated with climate change. 

Now, as a Folsom person, how would you explain that dust storm? Without the knowledge to understand the science behind a dust storm, well, I don't have to explain the problem the Folsom People had.


         Read Ghosts of the Heart and experience life as one of our First     Americans. Click the Link!

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