On and around the Malpais, the hunter-gatherer-farmer presence of ancestral Puebloans is everywhere underfoot.
In a sandy cul-de-sac among the crinkled lava, all by itself, was a carefully-squared sandstone block that was probably a deadfall for small game: packrats, squirrels, deer mice. Jan propped it on a twig and demonstrated, remarking, at the appropriate instant, “Squeak.”
To Cañoncito. A fiercely windy day. My ears, teeth, hair are full of grit.
The harsh, huge wind. Immense peace.
The day was spent in classic hunter-gatherer country: piñon, sandy hills, sandy bowls and corries, the burned earth that marks Archaic sites. I came upon fragments of a smashed Puebloan bowl that had been painted with stripes and checks, still sitting right where it broke. Right next to the bits was a tidy burned spot, quite round, perhaps twelve inches in diameter: the fire at which the bowl had broken. Growing exactly out of the center of the burned spot, happy for the nitrogen, was an eight-inch cedar trunk.
Mountain bluebirds, light-bellied in the wind, reminded me of fish swimming in the sea.
For more walks on stone and sand, click here.