April 15, 2011
In the cobble hills above the Rio Puerco. Rain, snow, thunder. I was afraid of lightning, but Jan sheltered calmly under a juniper that bore the black scars of a previous strike. The wind smelled of wet stone.
In the sand lay an iron axehead, its handle long ago lost to weather. From the eighteen-eighties, maybe. The edge had a graceful worn curve, and the splayed butt showed it had been used as a wedge to split firewood.
April 8, 2011
In the trackless mudstone of Piedra Lumbre, five or six hogan rings: stone foundations with east-facing doors, still holding what was left of the cribbed juniper rafters of traditional Navajo houses. Judging by the decay of the juniper, well over a hundred years old. Beyond them, two circles of ash filled with fragments of trash, probably fires that burned the deceased’s possessions. The squashed casing of a cheap nickel pocket watch.