A frosty desert morning on the gravels of the ancient Rio Puerco. All around us, distantly, the pop and crack of target shooting. We parked in a trashed pullout and hiked away from the road.
Wandering, sometimes talking, sometimes silent, we picked up rocks and dropped them. Showed each other the best ones: quartz and quartzites, petrified wood, metamorphics full of crinoid stems—all tumble-polished millions of years before humans were human. The sun rose, then sank. The wide bare plains; the weather-bitten volcanic Ladrones palely looming, almost floating. Except for wind and the marksmen, silence.
At dusk, our pockets full of pretty rocks, we trailed back to the pickup and sat on the tailgate as the target shooters drove homeward past us in their four-by-fours.
Writer-illustrator Betsy James, in conversation with older readers
In the sand of the Ojito Wilderness, a cracked Archaic mano, a grindstone. Crystalline quartzite, red and white and yellow, with a slanted edge that provided a perfect grip. I hooked my fingers there, seeing another woman’s hand: small like mine, probably young, with broken nails.
After twenty centuries, the stone remembers that other hand.