Walla Walla, Washington, February 16, 2009
My wife, Jennifer, happens to make a very delicious and completely irresistible chocolate cake. On this particular evening, I happened to have a cave bear paw at hand. I am not sure how or why this paw came into my possession. However, the paw of an ancient bear coupled with chocolate can inspire fine atavistic reveries—namely, scratching.
I like to hold these bones and imagine the bear waking up after a long winter hibernation—perhaps recalling its dreams, stretching, and gathering itself into the present by scratching the wall of a cave. There is an amazing event in a cave called Rouffignac. The walls of this cave are covered with scratches from cave bears. The walls are also covered with paleolithic drawings of mammoths. Many of the mammoths are rendered simply as an outline of carbon—their hair being nothing less than the scratches left in the walls by cave bears. In my opinion this is one of the more profound moments of inter-species collaboration.
I guess I really love the cave bear, despite it being little more than a memory. With this paw of mine, I have tried to continue the collaboration. I use the paw to scratch on my own paintings. I see them circling in the constellations. I suspect that I am one of the few people (if not the only person) to have eaten chocolate cake with the skeletal paw of a cave bear.