location: kimberly, oregon
backstory: as i wander around this region, i often wonder how this place looked when the first european settlers arrived. outside of the towns and highways, not much has changed. this scene is the original homestead at the cant family ranch near kimberly.
before settlers arrived, native tribes, umatilla, wasco, warm springs and northern pauite, seemed to have a nomadic lifestyle, moving from river valleys to mountains with the seasons, animals and food sources.
the arid desert climate is naturally conducive to preserving some of this history. wagon ruts can still be seen in stretches of open desert. kam wah chung is a chinese building in john day built in the 1860's that is much like when it was built, including the interior.
the cant ranch was settled in 1890 on the mainstem of the john day river. it is now a part of the national park service john day fossil beds - sheep rock unit.
seeing and being able to touch the simplicity of this original house in winter provides insight to their life in the 1890's.
the john day fossil beds provide another fascinating historical perspective to this area on a much larger scale.
this area shows over 55 million years of plant and animal evolution and a collection of 40,000 fossils that represent one of the two most complete fossil records in the world. much warmer and wetter, this area had a tropical to subtropical climate suitable for palm and avocado trees and a diversity of mammals from small to quite large. now it is high desert country, the fossils give us clues to what it was like then.
when i wander these places, especially summer full moons, that history seems palpable, it can be felt. from european settlers, native tribes, savannah jungle, it somehow all feels accessible, especially when lying on warm desert ground looking at endless stars in the sky.
and it helps put life in perspective. my life, this century, hundreds of years is a mere blink of the eye in the timescale of this land.
with that insight comes deep gratitude for this place. along with respect, honor and wonder at it's history, lifespan.
there is a depth here that can be felt, providing a sense of groundedness, rootedness with the earth.