Oh hey, peeps. I hope you all had an enjoyable time losing an hour of sleep last night (ugh, stupid sunlight, stupid summer…). Anyway, now that I’ve adequately lured you in with small talk that’s irrelevant to my post, yet still a sparkling representation of my charming and personable demeanor, let’s talk about Basque.
So recently, I was catching up with my senior year English teacher. In order to divert attention away from the fact that I haven’t done anything remotely interesting in my first year of supposed liberation from parental/societal constructs and self-invention and alleged soul-searching and existential understanding, right? college, I told her that I was learning Basque. She got really excited, and told me about how touring the Basque Country has been her dream. She also told me about Basque arborglyphs that she had encountered while hiking in California.
Basically, “arborglyph” is a fancy word for tree carvings. In the US, they were largely created by Basque immigrants (most notably in California, Nevada, and Idaho). To recap what Itxaso said on Friday, the Basques immigrated to the western parts of the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries; many left their homeland due to pressures from Franco’s fascist regime. By trade, a vast majority of Basques were sheepherders. Their self-expression lay in the imprints they made upon (primarily) aspen trees. This was an artistic method of communication between fellow Basque people, as well as a way to combat loneliness without seeming too sensitive/emotional (because, you know, herding sheep and living in isolation probably sucked sometimes). These carvings included both pictures and words—it’s too bad that aspen trees died relatively quickly, causing many of the arborglyphs to disappear.
For more information, check out: http://nevadabasque.com/arborglyphs/.