Predicting the Past

One afternoon, I walked from Maras to Misminay with an old man with whom I had become well acquainted. Midway along our walk, we stopped for a few minutes and sat down in a ditch to shelter ourselves from the cold wind. The inevitable bottle of trago was produced, and the wind became warmer. He asked how my work on astronomy was going, and I told him that I still felt completely ignorant. I then asked him if he thought that I would ever understand the sky and the stars. He thought for a minute, and indicating the land around us with a wide sweep of his arm, he asked me if I understood the land and the community yet. When I said that I did not, he drained another cup of trago and asked how, then, could I possibly hope to understand the sky.

—Gary Urton, At the Crossroads of the Earth and the Sky 1982

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