I was given this story one evening many years ago by a stranger who I met while I was contemplating the world and my place in it. I was watching the Mississippi river winding its way past the bluff where my house sat. The stranger came up to me and asked if I would mind company and conversation it was a mild late may night and I told him that would be very nice because I was no better off at understanding what was happening in my life than when I had come out here to think hours ago he asked what my trouble was I told him that I was fighting with almost every one that I cared about in my life and I was contemplating weather or not to continue mine life he said you young'uns always think the world revolves around you let me tell you a story to give you some perspective kid . I snap back I don't need to be lectured by an old fart like you and raise my head to look at him the person I saw looked no older than 35 the same age as my younger brother I was at a loss at that moment in my momentary loss of brain function he said the thing I most often wonder about the nearly 40 since I heard his story "the world is not as it would seem" I recovered enough brain function to ask "how so ?" he said as close as I can reckon I am about ten thousand years old at that point I thought he was crazy but so what just another one in a world full of crazies I am not sure what compelled me listen but I did and here is that strangers story

He said like I said as near as I can reckon that I am about 10,000 years old I was born in what is now Alaska I have seen so many things great wonders and the depths of man kinds cruelty I have seen many nations rise and fall and even on occasion wished I could fade in to history just as the people I have loved and respected in my long life but I thought who would remember me I no longer wish to fade away I just walk away periodically the longest I stay in one place any more is between 15 to 20 years I have not used my birth name in well over a thousand years I am not sure I could translate it in to anything you would understand you see my parents were from the island now known as Hokkaido they just called it home when the fishing took them farther and farther from home they eventually decided not to go back to their people when they found a fertile fishing ground season after season they settled down and had a family I remember long nights and the lyrical quality my fathers voice would take on as he would tell me of our ancestors and their customs you would know them as the Ainu it is so sad to see my peoples culture almost extinct to me they are just The people

when I was old enough my father taught me to carve bone ivory and stone like my people had for countless generations before me when I learned to carve the ivory only came in extra large Mastodon and Mammoth were so majestic and it seemed that their shear size would insure that they would live as long as the mountains stood what romantic and simple childhood thought when my father knew his last days were approaching he told me that I must carry on the memory of our people he gave me a simply carved brilliant green stone he told me when you carve this kind of stone remember your people , the lessons and values they hold little did I know how long that would be even so I have done that and more along the very long way I have carved bone stone wood of endless varieties gem stones even glass I have shaped them in so many ways and the innumerable experiences of carving over the centuries has shaped me as much as I have shaped any particular material

after my father died my mother had died the winter before I walked in land over the what is now known as the Alaska range encamping as I needed hunting as I needed to most of all I needed time to think and remember all of the things that were important and the love of my parents after I crossed the what is now called the Alaska range I came to the lands of the snow people you know their descendants as the I settled with them for a time and to my great sorrow I even married and we had 2 daughters as the years passed I watched my children grow up and my wife grow old and die during that time I seemed to grow no older about a year after my wife died even my own children looked upon me with a sick kind of horror as if I was some kind of demon then one day as hard as it was for me to do I knew what I had to do I walked away leaving behind my daughters and the people I had grown to love and had trained in my functional yet beautiful style of carving I haven't returned since that night I choose to walk south following the mountains after several years walking trading my carvings to various peoples I met along my wandering way I decided to settle down for some time again this time it was on the great plains this time I knew better than to take a wife I did not want to repeat the wrenching experience that had brought me to the plains on the plains I was introduced to pipe stone and what is now known as flowering or ornamental tobacco I have enjoyed smoking ever since.