From the mesa edge we saw, on a south-facing bench, two Navajo hogan rings and a stone corral, and climbed down to them.
They were old. No historical pottery scatter at all. One of the rings still carried the juniper cribbing of the roof, though it had fallen. In the desert juniper can endure for hundreds of years.
The hogan’s door did not face east as is traditional, because the ring had been built against a sandstone slab; however, the north wall did appear to have been knocked out, customary ritual to release the spirit of a dead person.
The corral had been formed ingeniously by piling cedar to wall up the ends of a cleft formed when a fallen slab split in two.
From a faded pamphlet on Navajo folklore I learned that a horned toad can make an arrowhead by choosing a stone and running around it. This is why you’ll sometimes find an arrowhead where there was none before.
A fast trip to the muddy roads of Zuni Pueblo, to admire this year’s babies and exclaim over how big last year’s have grown. There’d been lots of snow; it was so wet, they warned us, that the Navajos were parking on the pavement.
I learned to say “quack” in Zuni: naknak’ya. The apostrophe is a glottal stop, the tiny pause in Uh-oh! (which in Zuni would be spelled Uh’oh!).
The past tense of naknak’ya is naknak’yakkya. The happy clamor of ducks on a pond: Zuni nails it.