I’ve been thinking about the past recently. Geologic past, mostly. When you look at a cliff that’s highly striated, a human life will span just a few lines. Cultural memory lasts much longer than that. The Five Nations have a creation myth that talks about (the earth) “Sometimes Giant Tortoise moved himself in such a way as to make the earth quake.”
There is a seismic history here in New York State. It’s not like California, but the ground does shake a once or twice a decade. Now we’re back to the depth of cultural memory. how many generations could a story about turtle shaking his back last? How many layers in the cliff face could we count back and compare the earthquake evidence with the legend?
interpreting metaphors is dicey at best, but there are some interesting passages in many of our legends.