I bit a dried ball of piñon pitch. It tasted like cloves.
The wide horseshoes of mesa canyons, naked slopes of the Morrison formation, eroded, sleeked by rain and full of the sandy tongues left by its torrents: a water-made landscape without a drop of water in it.
The Morrison slopes were fissured, pristine—sandy corries where only animals had walked. Footprints of coyote, mice, ravens, deer.
Rain-soaked sandstone is unstable. Hiking upcanyon, we found a boulder the size of a Winnebago that had peeled off the mesa and bashed a fifteen-foot-wide swath down the scree slope.
It had taken out the piñones, hit the canyon bottom, run up the opposite side, rolled back down, bounced a couple of times and settled back to dam the creek into a fine little trout pool.
The bashed pine needles were still green, but the pool already had a half dozen six-inch fish in it.
On archaeological field survey: way to hellandgone New Mexico, thirty miles of washboard dirt road on land so overgrazed it was “cow burnt.” A cold day.
A wide, empty valley fissured by new erosion, arroyos thirty feet deep. On a low volcanic promontory, the scattered stones of an Archaic site like tossed newspapers in a messy room. There was a “kitchen”—a cluster of sandstone slabs—and in the middle of them was a worn grinding stone, a metate.
It was hexagonal. None of us had seen that before. Archaic, therefore thousands of years old—but hexagonal?
In this desert land, wild honeycomb would have been almost the only sweetness.