Besh Ba Gowah

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October 11, 2017, Globe, AZ-

The Southwest is as abundant with remembrances of the past, as anywhere on Earth, and perhaps more than many places.  The various cultures and civilizations that came here, long before the Athapascans, the Comanches, the Utes, to say nothing of the Spanish and other Caucasians, will perhaps never be well understood.  I see, however, that in many ways, these distant ancestors of the Hopi, Zuni, Havasupai, Hualapai, Yavapai and Rio Grande Puebloans are mirrors of ourselves.  Visiting the Salado ruins at Besh Ba Gowah (Apache, for “Metal Camp”), I saw a carefully planned, apartment-based community, which relied on knowledge and cultivation of high desert plants, having drawn on the practices of the Huhugam and others who came here, well before the 11th and 12th Century heydays of the Salado people.

Here are a series of photos of the excavated and unexcavated ruins, the upper and lower gardens, of Besh Ba Gowah, lovingly restored and maintained by an appreciative City of Globe and its citizens.  I am not commenting on all of the individual photos, hoping that you may draw a sense of the vastness of this complex.

Entry to Excavated Ruins:

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The Excavated Ruins:


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Unexcavated Ruins:

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Arizona Gray Squirrel, a bit mottled by the dryness.

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Upper Ethnbotanical Garden:

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Lower Ethnobotanical Garden:

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Look closely, and spot a smiley face:

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Besh Ba Gowah, and Globe as a whole, are nicely placed between Flagstaff, Phoenix and Tucson, making this stunning area a natural place, in which to enjoy a Fall day or three.

NEXT:  The Further Glories of the Gila Wilderness

 

Thirty-fifth

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June 6, 2017, Prescott- 

So, on this day, thirty-five years ago, I made the wisest move I have ever made, and took the vow of matrimony.  A Baha’i marital vow is simple:  “We will all, verily, abide by the Will of God.”  That divine will took the two of us to great heights:  Pilgrimage to the Baha’i Holy Places, in Haifa and Akko’, with side visits to  Holy Places of Christianity, Islam and Judaism, in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the Galilee; various journeys of service around North America, to Guyana and to Taiwan; many years of work with children and youth, on the Dineh (Navajo) and Hopi Nations and perhaps, most consequentially, five and one-half years in Jeju, Korea, the birthplace of our son.  There were depths to be navigated, as well:  Penny’s debilitating disease, the worst effects of which were concurrent with the subprime mortgage crisis, the Madoff scandal and the “Great Recession”-each of which impacted us, directly or indirectly.  Standing by her side, until the end, was simply part and parcel of what my love called me to do.  Likewise, as I confronted my own demons, in the midst of all this, she supported me and her spirit has brought me through to the other side of the tunnel.

I am reminded of so much, this morning, after talking at length with our son, who, likewise, has stood by me, disagreeing with some family members, when they castigated what they saw as my irresponsibility and setting me straight, when he has seen the path veering off in an odd direction.  He’s been right, on both counts, showing that the one thing I have done right in this life has been to raise and guide an exemplary human being.  This morning, I looked at photos of Aram and his sweetheart, sensing that he continues to thrive and find his way along this marvelous, but often treacherous, road.

I have reached a minor crossroads, in my own life.  There is the option of staying the course, which would cause discomfort for my critics, as well as, initially, for me.  There is the option of moving to a more rustic part of Prescott, a place I visited yesterday, and find most salubrious.  There is the option of moving to a high desert community, close to the workplace of two of the most supportive souls I’ve ever known.  In each case, I know it’s time, as I’ve said repeatedly of late, to simplify, to downsize and to detach.

Thirty-five years after we took our vows, my love’s spirit urges me on.

So He Loved and Has Now Flown

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May 13, 2017, Prescott-

Another long-suffering soul has gone home.

His first comment to me,

thirty-six years ago,

was to not soak a tub of beans overnight,

unless the plan was

to stay up and watch them.

This, as we saw that someone had

done the opposite.

The ground was littered

with soft pintos.

Ants were emerging,

to savour the feast.

His last remarks

to his family, were

that he wanted to go home.

Yesterday afternoon,

he did just that.

In seventy-five years,

Moses Manybeads Nakai

had been a steadfast believer

in the Oneness of Mankind.

He married a young nurse,

who had come to the Navajo Nation,

to serve both the Dineh and Hopi.

They raised two daughters,

both of whom are

college-educated professionals.

Moses went many places,

in his life,

from Samoa to Alaska.

He always came back,

though,

to his beloved Dinnebito.

It was there that his father

practiced traditional healing.

It was there that his mother

made the best mutton stew

in the universe.

It is there that his sister

still lives,

with her husband and family,

living the traditional herding life.

Moses left us,

while in the comforting environs

of Montezuma Well.

It gave him solace

to know that

there is a deep connectedness there.

Only days ago,

a rare red snapping turtle

emerged from the well.

It had navigated the channels,

of which we seem to know little.

Moses knew,

and the Navajo people know,

quite a bit about such things.

One more bit of connectedness

has now gone through the veil.

I trust

that I will hear from you,

again soon,

my friend.

Embrace the Light.

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Onward

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January 1, 2017, Chula Vista- Seems people were so fed up with the year just past, that my retrospective montage was received like a lead balloon.  No matter- the clouds have cleared, from the torrential rains of the past two days (most welcome, here in southern California, and the neighbouring states of Arizona, Nevada and Baja California Norte).  My hope is that the clouds hanging over our nation, and over many parts of the world, will dissipate, as well.

I have a few, short-term, goals for this year:

January- This week, for the most part, will find me in the San Diego area, largely here in CV, with an Orange County outing, to Crystal Cove, on Thursday, before I head to Phoenix, and a dental check-up on Friday.  Training in Psychological First Aid, on Saturday, will let me bone up on those skills.  Who knows, as to just how many occasions such will be necessary?  Next Sunday,  my penultimate trek along Black Canyon Trail will bring me to the Emery Henderson Trailhead, in New River.  The last hike on that trail will follow, later in the month, (probably on the 21st. ) Over the Martin Luther King Day weekend, Aram is likely to visit, so the three days will be open-ended, to his preferences.  Other weekends will be divided between Baha’i studies and the trail.

February-  Son heads out to South Korea, the second week of this month, so I will spend 2-3 days in southern California once again, to see him off.  It’ll mean 1-2 ,years of Skype and a once-a-year visit.  I’ve been in those shoes, several times.  President’s Day weekend will likely find me in the McDowell Mountains, northeast of Phoenix.  A service project will also be done, during the Baha’i days of giving and service to others, known as Ayyam-i-Ha (Feb. 25-28).

March- This being a month that features a Nineteen-Day Fast, with Spring Break coming towards the end of said Fast, my plans are open-ended.  The inclination is to head over to  southern New Mexico and western Texas, to pay a couple visits to friends in the area, and take some relatively moderate hikes, the likes of which have worked out nicely, over the past few Fasts.  The Baha’i New Year (March 20, this year) will be followed up by a journey to Native American Baha’i Institute, to re-charge spiritually.

April- This is the month of the twelve-day Baha’i festival known as Ridvan,  commemorating the days when Baha’u’llah declared His mission, in 1863.  My energies will be thus directed. A few jaunts along trails in the Sedona and Payson areas will also be on the agenda.

May- Decision time, as to keep my current position, or move to a different school, will be at hand.  A long-postponed revisit to Boyce Thompson Arboretum, and neighbouring Superior, is the only existing item on the hiking agenda, for this month.

June-The first month of summer will keep me in the Southwest.  A week in SoCal will focus on Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.  Visits to Navajo and Hopi are also on the agenda.

July- My now customary week in Carson City and Reno will move to the first seven days of this month.  Then it will be northwest, to Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. From there, finances and circumstances will dictate my direction- either a week’s visit to Korea, or down the road, through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado.

August-Back to whatever work assignment awaits, and whichever forays into nature are allowed by the Monsoon rains.

September-The Bicentenary of Baha’u’llah’s Birth will be celebrated next month, so this foot soldier will be ready to do whatever the Commemoration Committee needs done.  Otherwise, Labor Day will take me up Granite Mountain, and the end of the month will mean a weekend in Flagstaff’s Inner Basin.

October- The aforementioned Commemoration will take place on  October 22.  Hope Fest will also happen this month, so there will be much work, in service.  Fall Break is a cypher, at this point:  Tucson and vicinity will get first dibs.

November- Thanksgiving, this year, will be observed at Desert Rose Baha’i School, between Phoenix and Tucson.

December-  Christmas week will find me in Massachusetts, with family whom I feel have been somewhat neglected, over these past several years.  Several fences need mending.  That will include a train trip to Philadelphia, right before New Year’s, and on down to Tampa Bay, for the first week of 2018.

Books?  “The Brothers Karamazov” slog continues.  “The Standing Stones Speak”, by Natasha Hoffman, “The Century Trilogy”, of Ken Follett, “The Alchemist”, by Paolo Coelho and a pair of books on rebuilding communities take top priority.  Speaking of which, my long put-off book of poetry and short prose will be put together, starting with choosing the better of the poems I wrote, over the past year, and adding verse as it comes to mind.  No specific promises, as to date of publication, but it will be sometime this year.

So, off we go- Trump’s wild ride,  widespread exercises in patience with one another, and continued healing (on both a personal and a collective level) will define this next chapter in the life of this beautiful humanity.

 

Sixty Six, for 66, Part III: People, Places and Things

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December 23, 2016, Prescott- School is out, for two weeks.  After helping to re-arrange the classroom, I took off from work, and decided to spend the afternoon and evening around town.  I will head for Phoenix, and the Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference, tomorrow morning, after a full night’s decompression.

Enough of that.  I wish to share 66 of my favourites- persons, places and things, in keeping with the Christmas spirit of positivity. So, in no particular order:

1. Mountain vistas

2. Posole

3.  Monty Python films

4.  The Olympic Peninsula

5.  Celtic Woman’s music

6. Fried clams

7.  The Harry Potter series (films and books)

8.  Baha’u’llah’s teachings

9.  The harbour at Vannes, Brittany

10. The presence of children

11.  Do Terra Essential Oils

12.  Honesty

13.  Pizza

14.  My biological family-wherever they are

15.  The United States Constitution

16.  Sweet potato pie

17.  Manitou Springs, Colorado

18.  Bears

19.  ‘Abdu’l-Baha

20.  Mint chip ice cream

21.  My Reno family

22. The Grand Canyon

23.  The Baha’i House of Worship, Wilmette, IL

24.  Trustworthiness

25.  Equity for women and girls

26.  San Diego

27.  The Fisher King

28.  Forthrightness

29.  Jennifer Lawrence, as an actress

30.  Denzel Washington, as an actor

31.   Gatherings at Prescott’s Courthouse Square

32. Justice

33. My mother’s love

34.  Memories of my wife

35.  Sharp cheddar cheese

36.  The Field Museum, Chicago

37.  My Tampa Bay family

38.  Jeju, South Korea

39.  Les Miserables

40.  The Sonoran Desert

41.  My son’s devotion

42.  Crispy bacon

43. Dogs

44. Thumb Butte, Prescott

45.  A job well done

46. Crystal Cove Beach, CA

47.  A Path With Heart

48.  Caramel

49.  Bluegrass music

50.  The Lord of the Rings 

51.  Consistency

52.  Sedona, AZ

53.  Hopi culture

54.  Whales

55.  Persistence in faith

56.  Boulder, CO

57.  Pumpernickel bread

58.  My southwest Missouri family

59.  Lemurs

60.  The Holy Bible

61.  Gyros

62.  Heidelberg

63.  Navajo culture

64.  Reuben sandwiches

65. Hot coffee

66. Southeast Alaska

There are so many more that I love, but I sense the reader’s flagging attention. 🙂

 

 

The Big Hug

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Lumbee musicians (left) and emcee (right center)

May 21, 2016, Keams Canyon, AZ-  I drove here, from Prescott, this morning, after a brief stop to see if people were posting flags in Prescott Valley, for Armed Forces Day. It was windy, so they were delaying the posting.

I did not have the luxury of delay.  Today’s Interfaith Devotional in Keams Canyon had been planned several weeks ago.  I lived in the area for seven years, and so, I know many people there. A Baha’i couple, doctor and nurse, moved there three months ago, and were hosting the devotional.  I want to support their work, as much as possible, and had this time free.  So, setting out at 10, I arrived at 1:15 P.M.

Keams Canyon is northeast of Flagstaff.  It’s at the eastern end of the Hopi Reservation, past the settled mesas, and is mostly inhabited by medical staff, who work at the Hopi Health Center, which is itself located between First and Second Mesas.  The IHS Hospital used to be located in the canyon itself, but the buildings were decaying and were too small to meet the needs of the population.  So, the facility moved to a newer complex.

The canyon is a very lush setting, and is one part of the Hopi Reservation where I can take photographs.  I will be back there on the afternoon of June 5, so will be able to take photographs then, before going up to a tribal dance, where photography is not allowed.

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Hopi ladies, on couch, and nurse, in chair.

We were graced by three Hopi ladies and a teenaged girl, two lad, on couchies from Holbrook and three men from the Lumbee Nation, of North Carolina.  The hosts and two of my friends from Holbrook, who also used to live here, were moderating the program.  It started with the Lumbee men, professional musicians, singing a bluesy version of “Amazing Grace”, before heading out on more engagements.  Those who stayed, prayed- then had a good time eating and socializing, which is what we do very well, at such gatherings.

The meeting ended with a few “Big Hugs”, among those who have known one another for several years, or at least feel comfortable with such. The meeting was, no doubt, blessed from above by Penny and by our long-time friend, Elizabeth, who was the mother of one of the ladies, and great-grandmother to the teen.

These mesas are very special to my heart, though the affairs of life have kept me away from them, until the recent in-gathering that has brought me back, on a few occasions, and will continue in the months to come.

 

 

The Road to 65, Mile 238: What Now?

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July 24, 2015, Prescott- I had little time, this morning, to ponder the title question, as there was an urgent service event taking place, from 9- 1.  About forty of us gathered in the assembly hall of United Methodist Church, to fill backpacks for students from grades K-12.  School supplies, as many are aware, are a major expense for households and we were fortunate to have over $ 1,000.00 worth, from backpacks to pencils, donated for distribution, both by individuals and companies.  In addition, several hundred books were donated, by various corporations.  Half the group were us Baha’is, which further gratified me.

It is a lovely season, here in central Arizona.  I will have some time, before school starts, to help where needed with the Red Cross and Yavapai County Angels.  These opportunities will, of course, be available during the year, as well, though I will be also about the business of replenishing my resources.

Some have gotten the notion that I am primarily just a guy who runs hither and thither, photographing people, places and things, visiting historical sites and hiking mountains, canyons and beaches.  That is part of who I am, but it can hardly stand alone, in anyone’s life.  Indeed, except for about a dozen close friends, most of the people I have met this summer will not give me much thought, and several, I may never see again.  That doesn’t make the experiences any less memorable.  I will treasure each day spent in Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, British Columbia and Alaska- just as I treasure each day here.

A friend spoke recently of “destination addiction.”  I remember, years ago, reading of a man from Italy, who had not been home in ten years, and had been so many places, with so little time to absorb each new experience, that he snapped, and was in the care of the Libyan National Police, spending his days staring into space, and mumbling.  Such a fate could not be more terrifying.

I will leave Yavapai County only once in August, to visit some long-lost friends in Hopi, an indigenous area about 100 miles northeast of Flagstaff.   Fall might afford some hiking opportunities, here and there- but not more than a day’s drive from base. The Christmas and New Year holidays will find me visiting family, but as an independent member of the brood.  I find I am altogether more settled, as many would expect, after four years of rather frenetic road trips and a European jaunt.

They have taught me, though, that I am a worthwhile person, that I can survive on my own, that I can make mistakes in my relationships with others, sometimes dreadful ones, and recover, with a major lesson learned.  I don’t need everyone’s approval, and there were a couple of people on the road, this summer, who made it clear that I was far from welcome to visit them. That was fine, because there were a vast number of others who were glad for my presence.  I take advantage of no one, and no one takes advantage of me.

Trailheads and Trails, Volume 1, Issue 21: Wupatki of the Valley

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August 31, 2014, Flagstaff-  Wupatki National Monument, centered on the “Tall House”, for which the Hopi gave this series of ruins its name, sprawls across a wide high desert valley, just north  of the San Francisco Peaks.  It is administered jointly with Sunset Crater National Monument, which lies 18 miles to the southeast, but is a worthy destination all its own, for those seeking to understand the predecessors of today’s Hopi, and other Pueblo dwellers.  The volcano known as Sunset Crater erupted in 1240 AD, and was thus responsible for the emptying out of settlements both here and in Walnut Canyon, the subject of my previous post.

I will start this account at Lomaki Pueblo, the northwesternmost of the ruins, and proceed southeastward.

Lomaki and Box Canyon- This is a small, rough area, and was probably a way station for traders heading towards, or way from, the Little Colorado valley and salt gathering locations in the Grand Canyon.  Box Canyon was the gardening area for the fifty or so residents who maintained Lomaki.

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Nalakihu and The Citadel- This hillock, just south of Lomaki, provided the Wupatki settlers with a vantage point to both signal distant villages and to observe those approaching from the north and west.  Nalakihu, halfway up the hill, served as a farming enclave and a sort of suburb to the small, crowded Citadel.

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The Citadel lived up to its name.  I can envision the guards keeping watch on those headed along the trail which preceded the present-day road that leads to the ruins of the main settlement.

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Wupatki Pueblo-  This is the grand settlement, closest to the main water source, and the relative safety of Woodhouse Mesa.  Runoff from the Doney Cliffs, two miles west, gave the settlers plenty of water.  There were large farm fields around the dwellings and common rooms.  Then, as now, corn (maize) was a staple, in various colours.  The modern Puebloans, including the Hopi, have preserved these varieties, and blue corn is the most famous and popular of the breeds.  I was delighted with the company of a family from India, who had settled in Phoenix, recently.  I started at one of the outlying houses, going clockwise around the settlement, as is my preference.

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The people would patch holes in the square, chimney-like structures, with solid applications of thick, gooey mud, which was almost impermeable, once dry.

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The native stone of the area is porous sandstone, but was useful for shoring up the mud brick, and for walkways to the fields and to the trading route.

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All major buildings had strategic portals, to the east, for praying and to the west, for observation of anyone who might be approaching.SAM_2721

Physical exercise was often communal, and the men would engage in a ball game, not unlike soccer, or lacrosse, though it seemed to have been played with a small, handball-type implement.  Ball courts were common in settlements around the Southwest.SAM_2725

A blowhole, which produces cool air in times of dry heat above, and sucks air down, when the outside air is wet and moist.  It was blowing nice and cold, when I went up to take this photo.  The father of the Indian family had never experienced such a thing, and wondered if a cave was underneath.  The Hopi call this site Naapontsa, or “Wind Spirit”.

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Below, is the Community Room of Wupatki Pueblo, where spiritual meetings and important community forums were held.

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The father of the family who were with me, graciously took some photos of me, in front of Great House.

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No, I was not turned into Jabba the Hutt!

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Here is a more extensive view of Great House.

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Sunset is always magnificent.  Here, it had a particularly auspicious ambiance.

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Wukoki- This settlement was the easternmost of the outposts in Wupatki Pueblo.  It also looked down on the valley, but was not quite as prominent as The Citadel.  It most likely received visitors from the Walnut Canyon and Homolovi settlements, to the south and east, as well as traders from further afield.  As the sun continue dto set, Wukoki also offered some eerie views.

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The rocks have character, as they do throughout the Southwest.  They also gave Wukoki an added layer of protection.

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The watch tower was especially sophisticated for its day.  Bear in mind that this square building style pre-dated European contact.  Squares and rectangles provided the means to protect against wind and water erosion.

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This sort of building style is actually the more common, among even later Pueblo groups.  The round structures, also associated with the indigenous peoples of the Southwest, arrived with Athapascan groups, such as the Dineh (Navajo) and Indeh (Apache), later in the pre-Columbian era. I will continue to visit the sites of those who have gone before, over the course of the next several months.  Next, though, is a look at the cause of their diaspora:  Sunset Crater