We spent a day hiking around at Bandelier National Monument. Several of the paths were closed for maintenance, but we were able to take a short trail.
The landscape, of course, is beautiful, with many sculptured cliffs, twisty trees, and wildflowers.
I see this little yellow flower everywhere, so I guess it is the New Mexico version of a dandlion. There were butterflies nectaring on them, but they wouldn’t cooperate for a photo.
Wild bergamot – at least i think so from looking at the poorly drawn plant guide brochure i purchased. It reminded me of the horsemint in Florida.
In several places, little clear creeks trickled across the path, surrounded by blooming willows and cottonwoods.
We walked for a ways through a fragrant, piney forest, crossed a creek and climbed a dry, grassy path to see the pueblos.
From the top of the path, we could clearly see the lush green that grew on either side of the creek in a line along the little valley.
Whenever i visit a place like this, and see old dwellings of ancient people, i always wonder what was happening in those moments when the stones were set in place, or the holes carved to support the poles. Were children playing nearby? Were the builders laughing and talking, making jokes? I try to reach the memories of the foundations from long ago in my imagination.
Next we drove to visit the La Cieneguilla petroglyphs. It was a beautiful drive through the countryside, passing many little country homes with horses in the yard or fat cattle ruminating, and backyards full of fruit trees, roses, or vineyards. It reminded me of the countryside in France, where even small yards were made beautiful and fruitful.
The trail itself was empty and poorly marked, with the proverbial tumbling tumbleweed passing by before it was caught in the barbed fence by the wayside.
It was drier here than Bandelier. I found an unknown white wildflower, milkweed, a solanacea plant with purple flowers, something with rattling pods i think i remember as rattlesnake plant, and beautiful spiny yuccas. The brochure plant guide was practically useless, unfortunately.
There were also many beautiful cactus plants.
The path turned to a rocky climb. My friend Danica, afraid of snakes, stayed behind. I grew up slogging through hip-deep black, snake-and-alligator infested saw grass swamps and walking barefoot in wild places while my parents looked for butterflies and rare plants, so i wasn’t afraid. It’s easy to avoid snakes generally on dry ground – you just look carefully at where you are going to step before you put your foot there.
Many of the rocks seemed volcanic in origin. There’s a special feeling to rocks that have been formed that way.
Not far up, i saw them – the petroglyphs. Not at a distance, but right there before you as you clambered on the rocks.
Stars, birds, animals, spirals and strange humans danced along the rock faces. They look so happy, free, and full of joy.
Here and there, a right hand with fingers out-stretched appeared, as if reaching out through the ages. I feel like i am reading something in a language i only half understand – maybe a few words are familiar, but the context is lost. I sat here a while, feeling the presence of the unknown ancestors, wishing i could ask them what their pictures meant.