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Posts Tagged ‘Mimbres pottery’

For all our friends back home, envying us our sojourn in the sunny southwest, throw another log in the stove, bake a pie, finish up the seed order, but don’t waste any time wishing you were here. Brrrrr. Grrrrr.

Here is Deming, New Mexico, just north of the Mexican border and just south of the mountains I’ve wanted to explore for years. We visited the VLA Radio Telescope several miles north of here back when we were such new ham radio operators we didn’t understand much of what we were seeing. I’ve always wanted to come back to see it again and to explore what looked like really beautiful mountains. We know now that there are old mines and lots of Indian sites in those mountains, but right now there is also snow, high winds, and cold temperatures. So today we did the usual lousy weather chores…laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning,  and making a pot of chili.

We also drove around this small town and found a better-than-usual museum in the old armory. There were the usual exhibits from small towns anywhere and an amazing collection of Mimbres pottery. The Mimbres river is nearby and was home to yet another group of native Americans about a thousand years ago. They made beautifully decorated pottery and local residents collected many pieces in the early part of the 20th century. As we were about to leave, we happened to look around a corner and found a real winner…an old ham radio.

Back in the early days of my ham radio explorations, I was listening to an elderly gentleman from Australia. He had been a radio engineer for many years and now that he was retired, he was getting back into the hobby. He was telling the younger man he was talking to about his early days as a teenaged ham. “You had to get a rack, about six feet tall, three feet wide, and three feet deep. You fill up that rack with <here he named all the tubes and good stuff he had back then> and then you put a long wire on it and you had a receiver. Then you got another rack, same size, filled it up with <all that good stuff again>, build yourself a good antenna, and then you had a transmitter.” What we saw today was about six feet tall, three feet wide, and two feet deep. All the good stuff was still there…stuff I can’t begin to identify…and it was labeled as somebody’s ham radio transmitter from 1936. We have any number of friends who would have loved to check that one out!

I wish we had not left Arizona so quickly, but the weather was scaring us. I realize now that very close to the Kartchner Cavern is the Amerind Museum. As you can guess, it is the museum of American Indians, from Alaska through South America. I’ve begun to realize in recent years that we tend to believe that American History begins with Jamestown and the Mayflower. But whole civilizations rose and fell a thousand years ago here and we know so little about those people. If only we had stopped at the museum, we could have learned a lot more. I’d love to hear from anyone who has been there.

As instructive as museums and visitor centers can be, it is obvious from time to time that not everybody is gaining quite as much as they might from the exhibits. I’ve been alternating between chuckling and shaking my head in disbelief over a conversation I heard in the cavern discovery center: Middle aged woman is reading interpretive plaque to her daughter and stumbles over the word “fauna”. Then she figures it out and explains that “fauna” means “plants n stuff”. Neither one of them can figure out why it’s used in a discussion of the animals found in the cavern. Then Mom finds several bone fragments which are identified as such and Mom says “How can they tell they’re bones? They just look like plain old wood to me.” Daughter answers, “Mom, the scientologists know stuff like that.”

I didn’t want to hear any more and hoped fervently they wouldn’t be in our tour group. They weren’t.

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