For Mother\’s Day this year, the man-who-made-it-all-possible gave me something I had coveted for months: a necklace that includes a piece of mastodon ivory. You remember mastodons–those huge trunk- and tusk-bearing creatures that became extinct 10,000 years ago, probably due to rapid climate change.
Now, another age of rapid climate change is bringing their formerly frozen remains within reach of human hands. My bit of mastodon comes from St. Lawrence Island, which is technically part of Alaska but geographically closer to Siberia than to North America. The necklace was made right here in Vermont by the artful Sandra Owens (http://www.vermontsilversmiths.com/index.html), who let me pick out my own piece of tusk.
The mastodon necklace is the latest addition to the collection of silver amulets–a pentacle, a carnelian pendant my daughter made for me, a little bear–that I like to hang around my neck. They are all earthy and primitive-looking, and the mastodon fragment is unimaginably old. And it looks it, too, since Sandra left it unpolished and practically untouched.
You can find on the Internet all kinds of mastodon jewelry in which the ivory has been cut into geometric shapes and polished to a high gloss. To me, those pieces look like they might as well be made of plastic. My piece of prehistoric fauna looks like it was just dug up out of the earth.
The cave-dwelling woman in my DNA likes to adorn herself with bits of bone and pebbles and such. But her favorite is the chip off the tusk of a big beast that her mate dragged home for dinner, on Mother\’s Day.
Note: I may be posting even less frequently for the next couple of weeks. My spouse and I will be in Montana visiting descendants, and possibly digging for more amulets. I\’ll resume posting after the solstice.