By Polly Oberosler
Several years ago, an old tree fell over on the edge of a camp we used. The tree was by our estimation every bit of 250-years-old when it died and it had been dead maybe as long as 50 years. One evening my husband strolled out where that tree lay on its side and he spotted an arrowhead in the cavity left by the uprooted tree. We both felt reverence as he turned it in his hand and then passed it to me to admire. Imagine, I thought, an arrowhead at 10,000 feet. It was something I had never considered before, being molded by white-washed history that described the life of those people as plainsmen.
I am given to muse, so that evening I sat up hours pondering the find and what it meant to local civilization and such. Then suddenly, as if struck by lightning, I realized that tree and therefore that arrowhead were older than our country’s official founding. That idea occupied my mind for hours as I realized Native American people, and people such as Burr, Hamilton and Franklin may not have even been born when that tree was a sapling. Or perhaps they were by then in the struggle of minds to liken this country’s structure to the Athenian democracy that existed 500 years before the birth of Christ. Either way, this country was simply a twinkle of an idea when that tree grew from the tiniest of seeds much like the Republic itself.
Thinking on the whole thing, I reflect on my own family having come to Talbot County, Maryland in the early 1700s. One Thomas Cranor, a far-removed grandparent, holds his place in a census taken in 1733 and he declared his ancestry as Irish. I have no idea why he came, but they were a rebellious bunch and what was going on in the monarchy at the time was something to push back on. I am guessing he boarded a ship as an indentured servant bound for the Americas come what may, and he landed on the Chesapeake Bay where tobacco was king and used as barter for everything.
He lived at Mill 100, suggesting he may have had a job in a gristmill, perhaps as a stone dresser or simply a laborer, or none of the above. Farming was their way of asserting independence by providing for themselves in the spirit of community, so one way or the other he was involved in agriculture. He had several sons and eventually grandchildren, one or two of whom suited up in the Revolutionary War. I have read some interesting history on life in Talbot and Queen Anne, Maryland and it was building and busy with not much time for the doings of the founders, although they paid far more attention than we do now to the underpinnings of our country.
My mother always said I was born a century too early, but was I? I ponder the meaning of so many things from times gone by and wonder how I would have fit into any of them. The Cranor family moved steadily west, searching for something of their own and wanting to carve out a living in the solitude of nature; I could have easily fit into that. They were in Kentucky when Boone was and became Sooners in Oklahoma, a place my grandfather held property for years. I am certainly not a loner, but I find nature far more agreeable than the struggle for power or wealth that seems to be the goal these days, worldwide.
Patriotism is in my blood by way of independence as I am a product of nearly three centuries of leaving tracks in America. My mind is blessed with the memories of men and women who make up my DNA. They are stored in my brain and often come out in dreams. I visit a hunting spot often that I personally have never been and plow fields in my dreams behind a mule I do not know. I knew instinctively the best place to rub a horse so that they are calmed; maybe I learned that from the mule pulling the plow?
Like my forefathers, I was meant to be who I am—an independent person in a time for independent thinking like no other. Our country was founded on that independence, but few understand that, choosing to offer up some lengthy reason that justifies what they hope to gain, much like the monarchy we escaped and fought against in the Revolutionary War. Patriotism is simply the prideful by-product of sound judgment, formed through independent thinking that created a set of principals we all should live by. I think of that arrow making and a Native American sitting near that sapling and feel ashamed I could see into his past and foretell his future all in the lifetime of one tree.