Thousands of years ago…


There used to be a bridge there...

Every once in a while we can use a reminder that we're not the first civilization to occupy this place. I'm talking about this continent, and I'm not talking about recent history but many thousands of years ago.The reminder came in the current edition of Oregon Quarterly, the magazine published by the University of Oregon. It reiterates  the news about the latest findings at the Paisley Caves, news that came out last summer with publication of an article in Science magazine. Basically, the news was that researchers from the university had demonstrated conclusively that people were at the caves in south-central Oregon at least 14,000 years ago. They also proved that theirs was a culture different from that known as Clovis, which had been documented in New Mexico and was dated at about the same era or a little later. What this confirms is that humans populated North America not all at once but in waves, one after the other. A find of stone tools in Texas, also different from Clovis, backs up this point. The prevailing theory is that the people came from northern Asia via the Alaskan land bridge toward the end of the last ice age, some down the middle of the continent and others along the coast, perhaps by boat.

A thousand years. Think of how long that is. Two thousand years ago, the Romans flourished around the Mediterranean, and other cultures held forth in Central America. But people were in Oregon 12 thousand years before that. We can't even imagine the enormous skills and intelligence it must have taken to survive and thrive in prehistoric times. But we can be sure that while different, the people's talents were more than equal to our own. (hh)

The gym alternative

The gym for exercise? To keep off pounds? What could be more boring than that? And time consuming. And expensive in both time and gas, depending on how far from the gym you live.

I got to thinking about this after seeing an editorial cartoon in the Democrat-Herald, where I used to work. It showed a belt. The hole that would make the belt the tightest was labeled summer. Then, the other holes were Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year and the last one, beyond which there were no more options, said "Get your butt to the gym."

The cartoonist didn't think he could say "butt" on the editorial page, so it was spelled with an asterisk instead of a u. But the message was there. And as far as I'm concerned, the message, while not wrong, also is not necessarily right. Walking for an hour on a machine, staring at the wall or a TV, or using one of the other machines they have at these places, doesn't sound like a lot of fun.

So instead, I figure we could try to do a little moving around every day, whenever there's a way to do so, and that would have the same result. Like what, for example? Like in the fall, leave the leaf blower in the garage and use a rake and a broom instead. You can't believe the workout that gives your arms and your core. Or you could walk more places if you have the time. I know that's tough for a lot of people. But walking up a few hills burns quite a few calories that holiday meals put on.

And then, of course, there's riding a bike. It's while riding around town the other day, between rain storms, that I noticed leaf blowers in action, lots of them, everywhere I went. It seemed to me that if leaf blowers had not been invented, homeowners with yards and driveways to keep up would have to worry about going to the gym much less. (hh)

Willamette signs: What they mean

Let's explain why there are warnings about contaminated water posted along the Willamette River in Albany.

Up on Thanksgiving

River’s rise closes Bryant Park

Bryant Park as seen from near the entrance on Wednesday afternoon.

Now we know it's fall. The drive through Albany's Bryant Park, at the confluence of the Willamette and Calapooia rivers, has been closed to motor traffic because of high water. A city worker closed the gates on the park's entrance and exit Wednesday afternoon. Running high after two days of occasionally heavy rain, the Calapooia had spread out across part of the park. Those little specks on the water you see in this snapshot, taken Wednesday afternoon between showers, are geese and a few ducks. Closing the gates also bars access to the upper parking lot. People can still visit Bryant Park on foot, but according to signs, parking at the gates is prohibited. So park downtown and prepare for a longer hike. (hh)

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