Tuesday, March 20, 2007

SW+1YR-EIGHT: Into the Valley of Monuments

The previous evening, after passing the center of the world, we came upon a reddish veil of dust hanging in the desert air and through it faintly saw the buttes and mesas of Monument Valley. And into the Valley of the Rocks we came, where once John Wayne, John Ford, and a cast of hundreds played out their myth of an American west, and now the Navajo remain, having made a park for visitors and seekers. We were two of these.

And then we took a tour, first into Mystery Valley, into the box canyons, where I would scramble up a sandstone ledge, and enter an Anasazi ruin. Sitting in its shadows, looking out its entrance framed in shaped adobe almost one thousand years ago, I saw the same canyon walls and skies just about unchanged since then.

Something in my DNA was understanding things I had no words to cipher. But still, I thought, that was then and this is now, a world where human industry changes everything. Later, after listening to our Navajo guide speak of droughts now more than a decade long, I asked her if her people thought it was caused by global warming. The Navajo don’t have a word for that she quietly explained.

For this is the desert and they are its people and the earth is not described by symptoms but its geological upheavals that you learn to grab its surface and hold on or find yourself the past. Then we wandered through Monument Valley.

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