February 2, 2012
At Zuni: We borrowed a clutch of neighbor kids and went hiking in the windblown sand south of the pueblo. The kids were itchy and wild, flinging themselves off the red dunes, playing cowboys and Indians—funny, given that they were all Indians.
One of the adults, a fast hiker, disappeared for awhile. We wondered aloud, “Where’s Andy?” Small Brandon said seriously, “Prob’ly those Indians got him.”
November 25, 2011
Among the lifts and holts of sandstone in the beaten, overgrazed terrain west of Albuquerque, overrun for centuries by sheep, cattle, Spaniards, Navajos, soldiers, ranchers and uranium prospectors, in the plumb middle of nowhere, we came upon an enormous galvanized bolt sticking out of the ground.
Pat said it held the universe together. With a little work, feeling like King Arthur, I pulled it out.
August 12, 2011
Jemez foothills in thunder season. A rattler was getting the heck out of there. A million millipedes the color of violins were footing it furiously, looking like baby snakes.
Jan said, “It’s the crawliest day I’ve seen in a long time.”*
July 29, 2011
The inexplicable things one finds in the wilderness! I assume it had lain in the dirt for as many years as its age: seventy or eighty.
July 24, 2011
Rain had washed everything, as though it had doused the desert with a gigantic fire hose. The daisies’ faces were plastered to the ground.
A pretty mano of pink granite. Where it lay was wilder than when it was made by an Archaic hunter-gatherer, probably a woman: only the rare hiker goes there now. The mano had been looking at the sky for two thousand years, at least. I admired it, then left it to its next eons of quiet and space and rain.
June 19, 2011
In the Jemez Mountains we hiked among the Tent Rocks: eerie, beautiful. Pink-white ashy pumice forms teepees, minarets, cupolas, gables, totem poles, shrines—their bases scalloped like coconut-cream popsicles, their tops jagged as blades. Don’t slide off; by the time you got to the bottom you’d be, not just dead, but completely skinned by volcanic glass. As we crept along the steep sides of the hills each of us touched the slope with one hand.
The ash is full of obsidian, Apache Tears.
May 5, 2011
Unlike those of the classic Zia symbol, all its rays are of equal length. The slanted ones may be feathers. It had been painted with a finger, and seemed to be subtly smiling.
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.