Our cabin, sacred to us, sits in a clearing at an elevation of 1,800 feet on Tuscarora Mountain, a massive shale outcropping formed when glaciers halted their movement southward in the Ice Age. The mountain’s name is tribal, and long after the glaciers moved south, the tribal history began when indigenous people, the Tuscaroras migrated north to this region, eventually to be part of the Iroquois Nation. For we two here now, the iceberg and native history are still very present. Like a confluence - icebergs, Tuscaroras, now us, a place we in our lives have inhabited on-and-off for 21 years.
This mountain and others nearby are considered the high peaks of Broome County in upstate New York, in southeastern Broome through which the Susquehanna River flows on its winding journey to Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. Its terrain has been quarried for bluestone shale, including our 5-acre site, the quarriers often independent locals eking out a living. It has also been logged, though portions of the area are protected woodlands, and it now is the target of natural gas exploiters because it is lies within the northern sector of the vast Appalachian Marcellus Shale deposit, the gas reachable through the shale layers by the toxic drilling method called hydrofracturing, fracking for short.
Our piece of land bares its ancient history in the shale outcroppings that show through the soil, its native history in the sense we have that it feels and seems all too apparently to have been a worship site, a spiritual space, and its so-called American history in the dirt road that passes by, in the logging and quarrying evidence, in the nearby few neighbors, mostly of European descent, in the nearby dwindling dairy farms, and in the constant efforts of speculators to exploit its surface and depths for wood, stone and fuel.
Yet, and there is a yet, for our time here it will remain sacred in the presence of its history and what we still may be able to share and preserve, with it, in its transfiguration.