Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hunters and Gatherers

While living in Oregon, I read a book, Clan of the Cave Bear, by Jean Auel. I only picked it up, to begin with, because Jean Auel was a first-time Oregon author, and you couldn't listen to the radio or look at a newspaper without hearing or reading about her success. The story is about a Cro-Magnon girl, named Ayla, and her struggles and interaction with the people of her clan, the environment, and a group of Neanderthal people she encounters.

The prehistoric people, as described in Clan of the Cave Bear, had strictly defined roles for men and women. The men were the hunters. They were geniuses at rushing a herd of animals, dividing out the weak or young of the herd, and slaying the beast. Then they hauled the meat home, with pride.

The women, on the other hand, were the gatherers. Their tasks were to dig roots, gather herbs, and pick berries. Their eyes were skilled at seeking treasures, both high in the limbs of a tree and low on the ground. Plants had to be examined carefully; making a poultice of the wrong herbs would not heal a wound. A stew made with the wrong mushrooms could lead to death. Picking berries and fruit was a job that encouraged quiet contemplation, or thoughtful conversations with a fellow-gatherer.

Last night I went shopping with Tim. He usually invites me to join him when he does his Christmas shopping. It's become sort of a tradition, and I'm really glad to share the evening with him. Tim and I left our house last night and headed out for what I foresaw as an evening of "gathering" - thoughtful, cautious decisions being made for each gift. But Tim was on a "hunt" - divide and conquer, rush in for the kill, and bring home the beast. He was done with his shopping by 7:30, only an hour and a half after we left the "cave."

Feeling like the evening just wasn't complete, I asked Tim if he'd like to go somewhere and get a cup of coffee or a cold soft drink before we went home. "I'm not really thirsty," he answered. THIRSTY? Who said anything about being thirsty? And that's when the Clan of the Cave Bear analogy flashed through my neurons. And I realized that things haven't changed that much . . . "hunters" are still out to finish the job; while we "gatherers" are looking to savor the experience.

1 comment:

Anonymous said... bout adoubt it..he's a GUY!

Of course, another truism, is that "the way to a guy's heart is through his stomach".

He probably would have caved (hee hee) if you had offered to buy DINNER rather than coffee!!

Soggy in Seattle