WV Petroglyph

Several people doubted me this week when I mentioned that Daylight Saving Time begins this weekend. It seems early in the calendar, but Google can’t be wrong; it’s right there in red letters, and I didn’t add it as an event. Further validation came this morning from the University of Alaska, which used its emergency alert system to remind students to set their clocks ahead one hour–and to replace water stored for emergencies and smoke detector batteries. I don’t have emergency water, and the smoke detector in my apartment is working fine. I tested it the other day when a pot of something got cooking a little too strong. I flipped on the exhaust fan, but it couldn’t keep up, even though it is vented to the outside. I know this to be true because when I’m standing at the stove, I feel a breeze, more than a draft, coming through the cabinet where the fan is mounted.

But back to this thing of saving daylight. Somewhere in the Universe, there’s a bank for it, from which, come Sunday, Alaskans will start withdrawing deposits. And while we spend last year’s deposits to fish and create vitamin D around the clock, we’ll be saving this year’s sunlight for next summer. If anyone knows where that bank is, let me know. I’ve already figured out, it’s not SunTrust. I also wonder if somewhere in this grand scheme to save daylight there might be lessons for the government. You know, like saving (or taxing) while you’re spending to have enough for the next summer, and the next, and the next.

I majored in biology and reluctantly taught chemistry for a year, but sometimes backwoods, horse-sense explanations are more fun than the scholarly versions, which sometimes turn out to be hocus pocus. Like the translation of the West Virginia petroglyph that inspired this piece of stained glass. When I lived in southwest Virginia and had completed my study of gypsies, I got deep into petroglyphs and made a couple of trips to that neighboring state to see rock writing with my own eyes. That was in the mid-1980s, when the only explanation for their meaning came from a retired Harvard professor, a marine biologist and self-taught student of ancient languages who convinced at least a few people that the writing was Ogam, an ancient Irish alphabet with no vowels. He concluded that Irish monks who had traveled across the Atlantic around 600 A.D. in leather boats had incised the Ogam words in these stone outcropping in southeastern West Virginia. They must have ditched the boats somewhere in the Great Lakes area and come south, on foot, to do something. Maybe to give salvation to the Indians, who then would have not have been called Indians. Or maybe the monks were looking for their hillbilly cousins who had traveled across the Big Pond even earlier in the belly of a whale.

Anyway, an article about the petroglyphs published in Wonderful West Virginia magazine included Dr. Fell’s translation of the petroglyphs and this one, he said, describes how a ray of sunlight beams through a notch in a rock and illuminates the stone panel precisely on the Winter Solstice, which in those days would have been Christmas. A few years after the article was published, an impressively credentialed scholar of ancient language pretty well reamed out old Dr. Fell, as some scholars are compelled to do when someone challenges their theories.

This post comes from a mind that knows scientifically, unequivocally that dusting is futile. I remembered all of this petroglyph stuff when I stood this afternoon looking through the stained glass piece as the sun blazed through it.  Better to ponder Ogam, Irish monks beating Columbus and a few other guys to the New World, my neighbor’s chicken house, and the energy of sunshine.

Copyright 2013-2014 Genie Hambrick

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