Tag Archives: Cebolla Wilderness

Holy Water

Shrine Cebolla Wilderness 1In the Cebolla Wilderness, an abandoned ranchito with tin shack and corrals. North of it was a steep, stone arroyo with a spring at its head. Filling the gap between two huge stones, a springhouse had been built around the frozen pool. Inside, back in the dark and the smell of water, a tiny shrine was cut in the living rock.

The chisel marks were clear. The santo that had stood there was gone, as was the grille that had protected it, though the scars of the grille’s hinges remained. The empty nicho was touched with blue paint. Carved in front of it was a shallow bowl—for a votive candle, or for water from the spring? There was a stone  to kneel on.

The dim interior, the narrow rock passage and frozen pool, the tiny shrine: it felt like a megalithic tomb, something much older than itself.


Homestead Canyon

To Homestead Canyon in the Cebolla Wilderness. A glittery fall day.

At the wilderness boundary hunters had driven off-road, broken down the fence, and taken a truck in. We parked and sloped off on foot through prickly year-end weeds; my socks are full of stickers.

On the mesa top are the stone-heap remains of little pueblo. (The area was heavily settled in the 1300s.) On one sandy ridge the wind had exposed the four yellow-and-red sandstone slabs that made the half-moon edge of a storage cist. The whole ridge was sand-scoured, ventifacted, all wind-worn surface.

Nearby, also wind-scoured, were the sparkly bits of a metate (grinding basin), Archaic and thus hundreds of years older than the pueblos, that had been ground clear through with use. Human stories, one on top of another.

The piñon nuts were ripe and falling out of the cones. We kept stopping to eat.

Winterfat had the low winter light behind it, blazing silver. Spider guy wires were strung juniper to juniper; we broke those fine, elastic barriers as we walked.


For more walks on stone and sand, click here.