Searching with the GrandDIGS


Handicapped parking and wheelchair ramps are scarce at Fossil Creek Park on North Sulphur River. But with the help of a walking stick (not cane---STICK) and my three young grandchildren, I was able to hobble, scream, and scramble in and out of the "canyon" on a drizzly summer morning.  

The four of us relished the idea of exploring the 300-feet-wide, 80-feet-deep river bed that held archaeological finds and Indian artifacts, but our imaginations had to kick in when the stones weren't shaped quiiiite like arrowheads. The fossilized dinosaur lung and the ancient shark knuckle may have crumbled in my hand but the 15,000-year-old piece of rebar made my day. <blink-blink>    

My grandkids live in a sandy part of Fannin County, so the gumbo mud was a new challenge. Me? I walked out of my mud-caked Crocs fourteen times.  

When the Corps of Engineers straightened Sulphur River in the 1920s, it revealed fossil-rich layers. My granddaughter just knew she had discovered the footprint of prehistoric civilization. It appeared to be in the shaped of the bottom of a "mocca-sined" foot. Our combined high-level brain waves calculated the size to be a 6M. There was a distinct curve that we call the instep, and I just knew it was a remnant of Mound Builders art. Quickly, I dismissed any idea that it might be the 4-minute-old footprint of my eleven-year-old grandson. After all, a child's inquisitive mind and fertile imagination should be cultivated . . . not weeded. Okay, maybe it's an example of allowing our brains to be tricked into finding apparent meaning in the infinite variety of nature---like seeing a man in the moon or camels and guitars in the clouds. 

One of my grandsons was pretty sure he had found an ancient hand axe . . . for a left-handed prehistoric person. Since the child is left-handed, it became a moment of monumental discovery. He said, "See, it fits perfectly in my left hand and the groove just fits my thumb!" When my other grandson scoffed, "Silly, it's just a weird shaped rock," I separated their search areas.  

Initially, I gave the three kids my best Jim Bishop quote: "Archaeology is the peeping Tom of the sciences. It is the sandbox of men who care not where they are going; they merely want to know where everyone else has been." 

With our eyes piercing the mud and our fingernails digging at double-time speed, we eagerly unearthed . . . Malibu Barbie, a rusty Sears Craftsman crescent wrench, and a piece of broken amber glass, likely from a Budweiser beer bottle.  

Tailgate picnics are fun when parks are table-less. As we sat and enjoyed our sandwiches and Powerade, my granddaughter asked, "Mimi, do you have any Indian heritage?" I thought a minute before I answered. 

"Well, I like to sneak up on people."

  Huntington Beach News

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