In the Jemez Mountains under a Maynard Dixon sky, lazing like lizards. As we sat on the edge of the high mesa a half dozen swallows buzzed our ears like bullets, like a mechanical breath.
A raven flew by. In mid-flight it folded its wings, turned upside down and said, “Clonk!” Unfolded, came right side up and flew calmly on.
To the Syncline, where we watched a pair of ravens build their nest. Among the braided channels of the arroyo was a beautiful Archaic metate—a smoothly pecked, scooped-out bowl in the bedrock, say two thousand years old.
As we scrambled a rocky side canyon I came upon a desert-varnished boulder with the impression of three ferns, tidy as a museum exhibit. Probably Triassic: more than two million years. Later I went back to look for it. I found the ravens’ nest, but the ferns were lost among the trillion stones of the canyonside.
Under a bright winter sky, we hiked among the stumps of old volcanoes. As we scrambled up a bare black cinder cone, three ravens. Then nine ravens. Then thirty ravens, graaking and clonking and falling about in the sky.
A yearling coyote had tried to leap a rusty fence, caught its hind leg and now hung upside down, dead. In an attempt to free itself it had indeed gnawed off its foot—but in the wrong place, the far rather than the near side of the entrapping wire.
The leg bones protruded from the poor, chewed stump. In what would soon be a clean skull, its teeth were very white.