A coming paradigm shift

The battle – and it is a battle, always – over the theories as to the development of modern humans seems to be taking a major turn. For the last 40 years, more or less, the theory has held that modern man arose in northeastern Africa and from there populated the earth. This is the Out of Africa theory. Just recently – see the article below – a major find in northwestern Africa, fully across the continent from Ethopia and the east coast, has turned theories of modern humanity’s origins on its head. Yes, they are still talking about Out of Africa, but this find upsets everything in many ways, and the ramifications won’t emerge for months, maybe years. I think we are on the precipice of a NEW theory of modern human origins, but cannot even guess what it might be….


Coming home

A gazillion years ago when I fished from Chatham we had to cross the bar from Pleasant Bay into the Atlantic. It was (and still is) hairy, especially if it was foggy – and it was always foggy – and a sea was running. The channel shifted daily, sand, tons, being moved, and the course would wind among the breakers, left, then right. The boats fishing from Chatham are small, 40-50 feet, yet those seas could be large. When I was fishing we’d cross the bar. Just beyond was the broken and sunken half of the ship Pendlelton, which in the early 50s had come ashore and broken in half. There was a movie made about it, Finest Hours, recently, which I thought was pretty accurate except the absolute hairiest part of that saga, crossing the bar back into Pleasant Bay with all those men aboard and the storm raging, was sort of skipped. But those of us who fished from Chatham, we understood how hairy that had been.  There are lots of other bars and hairy entrances around the world fishermen must pass, and even ships (the Columbia Bar off Oregon and Washington for example). This grainy You Tube video here shows the Grindavik, Iceland, harbor entrance in January 1991 in a nasty sea and is in my opinion the most dramatic bar crossing on video ever made. My guess is the boat in the video is 110-130 feet long. Just imagine….


The Inland Empire

I’ve been driving around eastern Washington, western Idaho and Eastern Montana this week stopping at Indie bookstores in hopes of encouraging them to place my book on their shelves. I get the best of the deal, by far – I meet great people, see some terrific shops, and get to wander some breathtaking country. I first drove through eastern Washington in 1967 when I was 20, with two friends, in an ancient Peugeot sedan. We came up from California, passed Mt. Rainier, went through Yakima, and then headed east toward Idaho and Montana. We all remember coming onto that high desert plain and seeing the road stretch ahead for miles and miles. Yesterday I was north of Ephrata on a back way to Wenatchee and came upon a secondary road which looked exactly like the main highway did a half century ago. Exactly.


Guess Where

One thing about wandering the northwest visiting indie bookstores, along with the great people I meet and the wonderful towns I see, is lots and lots of hours behind the wheel driving – open roads, freeways, passes, switchbacks, more passes, more open roads – and here’s what I see. Any guesses?


The Good Old Fashioned Way

Being nearly ancient, this whole social media thing seems to me to be entirely confusing, impenetrable, and confusing, so while tomorrow a giveaway of the ebook version of Strong Heart starts, for five days, your humble scribe will be on the road in his ancient chariot over in the high desert – eastern Washington, Oregon, western Idaho – stopping at indie bookstores and encouraging them to carry his tale.  One store and one store owner at a time, towns apart, miles apart, serving their own local markets, their own readers. 20170519_091738

Giveaway May 30-June 3/Upcoming events

From next Tuesday May 30 through Saturday June 1 IronTwine Press is offering a FREE ebook download of Strong Heart to anyone who wants. Anyone. That means YOU. Download this ebook for free and then read it whenever you have the time. And, if you do download the tale, post a review, ok? Thanks. So make a note or whatever it is we do these days to remind ourselves.

Saturday June 3 at Neverendingbooks in Bothell, Washington, at 2pm, there will be a Strong Heart reading and discussion.

Saturday June 10 at noontime at the Edmonds Bookshop in Edmonds Washington there will be a Strong Heart reading and discussion.

Here’s more shots from my coastal and high desert bookstore road trip last week. It’s back to the high desert next week as well….car’s hanging in there….

The Bear

The bear is, in many cultures, a totem animal, a being of power and wisdom. The largest bears today are either Polar Bears or the Alaskan Brown Bear. They can weigh up to 1700 pounds. Bears are omnivorous – they can eat anything, and usually do – berries, small mammals, certain plants, and of course fish, salmon. I have seen bears in the wild a few times, usually black bears, which if not with cubs are relatively harmless and safe. Once I was hiking alone on the Skyline Trail in Olympic National Park, miles form anyone else and up high, and a magnificent black bear, so black its coat shone purple, rose thirty years down the slope from me, facing me, watching. We stared at each other for a long time. Then the bear shrugged and turned back downhill.

A bear once roamed North America that was the largest land mammal predator that ever lived, anywhere on earth. This was the short face bear.  This bear weighed over a ton, stood 12 feet high, could reach as high as 15 feet, could run 40 miles an hour, and only ate meat. This great bear went extinct 12,000 years ago, when the ice age ended, when all the other great animals – the dire wolf, the American lion, the mammoth, the mastodon – disappeared as well. There was a period when we humans lived alongside short face bears – a short time if current theories of human migration to North America over the land bridge are believed, 12,000 to 15,000 years ago – or a long time, maybe thousands of years, if you believe humans have been in North America for 60,000, 80,000 even 150,000 years. And this means that humans had to survive, clothe ourselves, capture food, and find shelter, while these carnivorous bears roamed the land.

Imagine running into one of these. This is an accurate reproduction of a short face bear, with me standing before it to show scale, that was displayed in the Victoria Canada Royal Museum last fall.  Just think about it. This is what leapt into the tale I was writing. I had to deal with it. It wasn’t easy.