March 12, 2008

Petroglyph

Petroglyph

A few years ago during a two-week raft trip on the River That Runs Through the Grand Canyon, our hikes through the side canyons sometimes led us to petroglyphs, pictures carved into rock hundreds of years ago. As we'd sit in the shade of the cliffs, staring at these old images, I'd try to come up with a narrative that matched the pictures.

The boatman who led the hikes would often scoff at my stories, as if only an expert could possibly figure out what images meant. But the teenage boy on the trip, whom I had befriended, would listen to my narrative and nod. I don't think human narratives have changed all that much in hundreds of years, and the stories were about the same things humans have always talked about: love, sex, relationships. I looked at the images and saw hunting trips, parties, community events, war.

One figure, an image we saw repeatedly, looked to me like a woman dancing, with her hands above her head and her right leg kicked out. I felt sure it was announcing a party, a celebration. The boatman would tease me whenever we saw the figure on a cliff, "Look! A wild dancing figure! Another party invitation!" In response, I'd point out what a great place we were in for a big community celebration. One spot, for example, had these huge centuries-old firepits and a fantastic view.

So now, when I'm in the southwest, hiking through the desert, and I come to places where ancient people once lived, loved, ate, and celebrated, I sometimes feel like I have to dance at the edge of a cliff, in solidarity with the ancient women who danced wildly once in the very same spot.

14 comments:

Lorianne said...

Shouldn't she be NAKED? :-)

Heather said...

Thank you..I have loved reading about your hikes.

I lived in Tucson for a year, and the walks through the canyons in the SouthWest are just as you describe...totally majestic leaving one in awe of the mystery of who and what went before.

Awaiting the naked pics with much anticipation...(its certainly warm enough!)

argon(one) said...

What an excellent adventure you have been on these past few days. I have enjoyed reading along. Your stories and pictures brought back memories of my own adventures and thoughts of the ones to come.

YourFireAnt said...

All your readers seem to have nakedness on the brain. Don't they realize this isn't a conference??

I miss you. Get back here.

FA

Colleen said...

That just reads like a beautiful connection to history. I think several teachers of mine would AGREE with you.

Gawdess said...

make a joyous sound and dance a joyous dance!

Busymomma66 said...

I like the idea that they left party announcements. It's kinda cool to think that in some ways we haven't changed all that much.

Yankee, Transferred said...

I love you, jo(e)

Silver Creek Mom said...

Rock ON! ;)

listie said...

I love the idea of stopping to dance on the ground of our foremothers.

MonkeyPants said...

What a fantastic picture, and how cool to think of dancing on solidarity with those who have gone before us.

Cloudscome said...

I love seeing you dancing on the rocks. Soak in that sunshine.

jo(e) said...

Hey, for those of you who are wondering why I am not naked in the photo, please notice that I am wearing double fleece. It was COLD.

heidi said...

you look like you are about to jump off the cliff!