Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Rock Art

On Sunday, Will, Maya, and I took a hike along a couple of trails at Petroglyph Monument on the western outskirts of Albuquerque. About 150,000 years ago, lava flows on West Mesa created a layer of basalt that has now crumbled into large boulders and slabs forming a dark, jagged escarpment overlooking the city. Native Americans created fascinating rock art by pecking, chipping, and incising the dark patina of the basalt, revealing the lighter gray rock beneath.
Today, Petroglyph Monument preserves more than 20,000 sacred images cut into the black stone. Some are easily recognizable images of animals, birds, snakes, and people. Some are geometric figures: spirals, circles, rectangles, stars, and crosses. Others are unidentifiable biomorphic hybrids, deities, and mysterious figures drawn from the artists' vision-quests into the spirit world. Some may be 2000 years old, but archeologists think that most were made between 400 and 700 years ago. Spanish explorers and settlers carved their marks into the rocks as well.
Whatever their original meanings may have been for their makers, these thousands of examples of rock art offer precious, beautiful, baffling, and at times amusing glimpses into our shared past.
For a fascinating account of an individual's efforts to protect the rock art at Mesa Prieta, see Katherine Wells's book Life on the Rocks: One Woman's Adventures in Petroglyph Preservation (UNM Press, 2009). Our friend Jan Stone is an active volunteer in this project.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Independence Day

The little village of Jemez Springs (pop. 375) is the smallest town every to win an "All-American City" award. I think the pictures of our July 4th celebration will show you why. The day begins with a homemade parade -- flags, marching band, floats, vehicles, rodeo queen, and all -- at 10:00 sharp. Don't be late, because this year's parade ended at 10:18. After the parade, everyone goes to the plaza in front of the library, bath house, and community building for speeches, food, games, flea market, arts and crafts, pony rides, etc. The day ends with fireworks at 9:00 PM. Volunteer firemen climbed up on the cliff behind the town and shot off $3500 worth of spectacular rockets. We didn't let the light evening rain dampen our spirts.

Monday, July 6, 2009

On the Move: Jemez, Los Alamos, Chimayo

Will and Maya came on July 1 to join us for a week at Horseshoe Springs. Their arrival coincided with the acquisition of our new Honda ATV. The first few pictures in this album capture the maiden voyages of the yellow ATV. A trip to Los Alamos (about 30 miles east of here) included the must-see landmark known as The Black Hole, a surplus market for discarded equipment from the labs. We also took a drive up the Taos high road to Chimayo, a village famous for its weavers and for the pilgrimage site known as the Santuario de Chimayo.