Paleo Bones

(First published in Arcadia Magazine – December 8, 2015)

Thirty centuries have passed since ‘Paleo’, a Stone Age chef, cave painter and storyteller chronicled the earliest prepared human foods. The following are interpretations of her paleoliths of the first recorded instance of Bone Broth in what is now the Ardèche, France:

Those who knew of the girl Willow came to Boiling Stones. The days were warm in that time, the nights dry and safe. Fires burned well and the many voices, soft torches, and scents of the tea-flower and pine bough pleased all at night. Many brought herbs, vegetables and spices of their liking for the preparation of the Willow’s Bone Broth.

Bones of Boar were brought by many and were in abundance there. In my dreams the Stones boiled the Broth to wonderful flavors. I vowed to those who are the girl Willow’s Own that the Broth would be Legend.

Bone Broth is a calming and comforting food, gives strength and health. At the Boiling Stones, it is made thick and satisfying.

The greater bones are scored and pieced to fit a hand large, then roasted. Then are they added to the water to which the Boiling Stones are dropped. The bones of this Boar were boiled in bowls of its own hide slung in tree-limb forms as strong as a living Boar’s frame. To the water, a small pour from soured Tree Blood[1] is added, to draw the goodness from the marrow to the Broth.

The Boar had followed a trail of acorns laid out for it to the mud pond. It wallowed there in bliss. It was taken in one blow to the neck from behind by Mine, the hardest kill, proving his skill and valor, and honoring the girl Willow. The mud cooled the flesh and bones, helped it to keep and cook in the best way. With the tusks that took the life from the girl, the heart was cut from the Boar. The tusks were stitched to a hide in which The Willow was buried, to cries that rang off the stone cliffs and sat in our ears.

The Root, and onion, garlic and bay, wood-ears and thyme, were put in later in the boiling. Spices and herbs no older than that day were added at the end.

At the Boiling Stones, a safe place of little wind or shadow below a wall of rock, fixings are steeped for many tastes. Soups and stews are prepared, and the fires are kept so that the Boiling Stones are in steady supply. On this day, some wore the hunting-mask of the Boar, our favorite hunt. And on this day I gave fixings to those who came with not but the will to give. Mine tells me he loves my care for others.

The Willow was wearing the scars of the same Boar from when they met first. Then, the beast had gored her thighs and hips. With fire Ours were able to save her then. We brought her Broth then as well, and it helped her to heal. When four seasons had passed, the girl was with youngers, gathering. She came into the path of the Boar again.

The Boar attacked. The girl threw herself around its vast neck and gouged one eye. The Boar tossed her like a seed-ball, and this time, took her life and stopped her on the path to a Woman. I think only that the death of the Boar was kinder than that of the Willow’s. Now their fates and lives were joined.

How sweet was the flesh of something that could take this woman-girl. And so it was that she became part of the Boar, and the sweet of the flesh was the Willow’s spirit. The children she saved, and any others who came to Boiling Stones for Boar and Broth were anointed in its blood to chase dark thoughts and demons.

Mine has made the Fire Place he promised for me and shaped its stones where now I cook. He is a good man, Mine, the man I knew my father to be. Like my father, and the Boar, and the girl called the Willow, all things that live will give up these lives, he said. Our bones are born with us from nothing, but remain forever, some from the care with which they are put into the earth in honor, others for the Broth they give the living. After the Broth is taken, Mine forms the empty bones into cups to hold my paints.

The bones of Paleo will live on like all others, but I will also live on, he said, in how I cared for him, for many, and painted on the walls below the earth.

The Boar had taken the child, and with its flesh and bones, she is restored to us. The Willow’s Broth was Legend. I fashioned brushes from the bristles of its hide and with them painted the child on the best of Our walls and so she lives forever. With the Boar.

The Willow lived inside me, to guide my hand and spare the paint from shaking from the brush and drying in the dust at my feet.

Drink Broth of the Bones
Breathe her Life in the Steam
Spit Reds to the Wall
Wash my Teeth in the Stream


[1] A mead of wild honey and crushed cherries.

(Graphic by the Author)