Monday, June 28, 2010

Desert Days

Moonlit Feast at Chaco Canyon

Coyote leap—
Jackrabbit scream—
Bones snap as fur flies.


A month ago today, Roger and I pulled out of our driveway at home, so it's not all that hard to believe we've made it as far as Arizona with many memorable stops along the way.

The coyote in the photograph was trotting along the loop road at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in central New Mexico, a two-day visit that astounded us with its lush green oasis along the Rio Grande River. The scherzo (short poem of 13 syllables) reflects a moment in time at Chaco Canyon National Historic Park in northwest New Mexico where we spent three magical days exploring the ruins and petroglyphs of this erstwhile capital of the ancient Anasazi, a puebloan people whose descendants we know today as the Hopi, Zuni, Laguna and several other pueblo-dwelling tribes of the Four Corners region (NM, AZ, UT, CO).

The road to Chaco is 21 miles of dirt with several washboard sections. Not one to take our trailer down. So we tented in Chaco for the first time in many,many years. Days were boiling hot, the nights ch-ch-chilly (down to mid-40s), but one of the joys is that you can easily hear the night sounds. While no Anasazi ghosts haunted us, we did hear the sounds that gave rise to the scherzo. And when we stepped outside at 4 a.m., the stars were thick from horizon to horizon, the creamy rich band of the Milky Way vivid in the sky.

Since, we've had several days at Canyon de Chelly in Arizona to hike and commune with other Anasazi ancestors and watch the cottonwood trees along Chinle Wash blow their snow of seeds across the canyon floor.

We've also had some time in civilization with several days in Taos and several more in Santa Fe, where the big attraction was the new Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit at her museum there, a fabulous, inspiring selection of her abstract work. And we took a day trip from Santa Fe up to Abiquiu to take a tour of O'Keeffe's home there. Many moments of tears as I tried to grasp that I was in her kitchen, her garden and peering into the room where she slept and dreamed for so many years.

Tomorrow it's into Utah for a return visit (third time!) to Zion National Park for more canyon bliss, this time along the Virgin River beneath the towering redrock walls.

All is well in the West for the two of us.

Wishing you all visions of hope.