This is an entry from the (fictional) Journal of Jarn, an alien stranded on Earth some 125,000 years ago, during the interglacial preceding the one we are in. His stranding ultimately led to the Jarnian Confederation, the setting for my science fiction novels Homecoming and Tourist Trap. The setting is Africa, in the southern hemisphere. The Journal to date is also posted on my author website.

Day 625

I think I am beginning to have some handle on the seasons of this planet, and how they affect the nomads. The rains come a little before the southern solstice. It takes a few days for the flush of new growth, which is followed by the herd animals and the nomads and other predators who hunt them. Not that there aren’t some predators, and animals they prey on, year round, but the migratory herds are far more numerous.

I teleported to the nomads’ camp today. The shaman asked me about the fish trap Songbird had made after seeing a picture on my computer, and after I answered I asked the shaman why the nomads did not stay in one place as some of the lions and wild dogs do.

“We follow the food,” she said, and I was reminded of my own early struggles to find things I could eat. I could teleport to where food was abundant, once I found where that was. These people could not. But the shaman continued. “Also, we go to meet with other clans. The young people find mates at the Gather, and it is a good place to trade ideas. But if we stayed there, as you stay at your shelter, there would not be enough food.”

I was reminded of what Songbird had said, when I first asked her why her parents had left her, and the questions I had then about the role of the shamans. “If mates come from different clans, what determines which clan they stay with?”

“That depends on what they want, on the sizes of the two clans, and on the food supply. Sometimes there is a question, and then the shamans of the two tribes decide together. If a clan is too large there is a problem finding food; if it is too small it cannot fight off predators. Our clan could be a little larger, especially with the fish traps you have shown us. That is an idea we will share.

All I had done was observe that the trap in the picture worked because fish could not swim backwards. Songbird worked out how to make the trap and set it where it looked like the natural vegetation of the stream. “Give Songbird the credit,” I urged.

She giggled. “You make us think, and from that comes new things.”

Do not interfere. How can I stop interfering?

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