On raindrop-pecked sand, the subtle lunar crescent of an Archaic metate broken and abandoned a few thousand years ago.
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.
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.