I once lived in a house built on stilts. It was lifted high enough to crawl under, but only if you were very brave. It was built for retired Navy colonels on the mouth of Pearl Harbor; u-shaped, covered with lead paint, and about half a football field away from the sea. Every year it would flood, hence the stilts. The flood would come in fat, warm rains, and you could kayak to your neighbor's house. That neighborhood lives in my imagination as the best any child could live in, perhaps because it is where I met my life-long best friend, and every day brought an adventure. How many ten-year-olds had their own sandbar island, and whose father had caught a five-foot shark in the backyard?
These floods would stir things up below the house, and after one of these floods subsided, we went to play at the beach, like we did almost everyday. My mom noticed my brother digging in the sand with a strange utensil, and asked him to bring it to her. She recognized it instantly as a hip bone - a human hip bone. We took it to an analyst lab for missing persons that was surprisingly near by. I remember the scientific equipment, the white coats, they gave us a tour, and it was enough to make any little girl hope she never went missing.
Turns out that the bone was a native Hawaiian hip bone - Pre-Cook Era. It was centuries old. Quite the discovery from digging in your backyard. There was a big hoopla over it in the Hawaiian community. Rites had to be done. Rituals recognized. And it roiled up age-old issues of Hawaiian independence. It made the newspaper.
So when I found the top of a skull under our house,
which I came across because I was chasing a neighbor's guinea pig who had escaped, my
parents had an easy solution. Throw it back under the house.