Hand To Hand: a narrative of hands. 

Hands signal. Hands hold. Hands reach. Hands probe. Hands caress. 

 

We pass things hand to hand: tools, batons, food, mail, bacteria and viruses. 

 

We carry things in our hands: sacks of coal, plates of salad, weapons and flowers. 

 

The hand is the most distinctive part of human anatomy. Neil Shubin in his famous book, ‘Your Inner Fish,’ said that when he did his first human dissection as a student it was only when the cadaver’s hands were exposed that he felt a connection to the body under his knife. “What is it about the hand that seems so quintessentially human?” he writes. “The answer must, at some level, be that the hand is a visible connection between us; it is a signature for who we are and what we can attain. Our ability to grasp, to build, and to make our thought real lies inside this complex of bones, nerves, and vessels.”

Hand Prints     A hand print made from nearby river mud and dried on the steel girders of a hikers bridge over the Vermillion River, in British Columbia, Canada. This handprint was one of many on the trusses of this bridge. The colors of the hand prints varied according to where the mud had been collected. I shot this photograph on the Paint Pots Trail which after crossing the river follows native paths to where the mud pots ooze an iron oxide mud. The Ktunaxa people came here for the colored mud to use as pigment. The Paint Pots lie along the tectonic edge of the western slope of the Canadian Rockies known as Kicking Horse Rim. 

Sage In Hand    Izzy grabs some sage because she can. Maybe because of the purple color. Izzy is one. Imagine how that feels in your hand. You are new at grabbing stuff, but you like it. The sage emits a strong smell when squeezed. It's great to squeeze stuff really hard.

One In The Hand Is Worth Two In The Bush      Found this thousand year old fragment of Native American pottery at my feet. We were well out in the desert north-east of Flagstaff, Arizona. With me were a national park ranger, a park service archaeologist and about a dozen fellow hikers. Our goal was a protected mesa well endowed with petroglyphs. We each carried enough water for two days as well as our tents, sleeping bags and food. To keep the mesa’s location secret the use of GPS has been prohibited. I put the pottery fragment back on the ground. We began hiking again. Far ahead I could just make out a single swath of green sweeping across the rusty desert. Our ranger said we’d camp near the green swath. She pointed out an Indian tobacco plant gone wild. We began the descent into another sandy wash. During the day the weather was warm and sunny. At night the temperature would close to freezing. Rich and I loved that hike.

 © 2020  Peter J Baumgartner.    

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