Friday, January 7, 2011

A Winter Afternoon Along the Colorado River


One of the things I'm most enjoying about being back in Moab is seeing the landscape with fresh eyes. I've been here many times through the years and taken many photos, but this trip is making everything feel brand new. I've never been here when it was this chilly and with this much snow on the ground, but, as I said, I didn't come for the weather, I came for a change of scenery and perspective. And that I'm getting.




Yesterday, JB and I drove down Potash Road, which runs just outside Moab. On one side is the Colorado River and on the other are walls of red rock where large sections are covered in a patina that has a purplish cast to it. It's on this patina that the Anasazi and Fremont Indians created petroglyphs, what we sometimes refer to as rock art. We can only guess as to their motive for creating these images on rock, but it seems the impulse to create art is essential to our nature. Not too far down the road is Canyonlands National Park, which has a large section of rock art referred to as Newspaper Rock. I took photos of it many years ago and perhaps will again this trip. It's a section of rock wall covered with a vast number of images, symbols and such, seeming to depict life as they knew it, perhaps even commemorating events of their times.

Those we saw yesterday are fewer, but no less intriguing. When I see these, I think of the phrase, The Family of Man. We live in far different times now, but inside we are still the same. 







We did a short hike in the afternoon, going up a small canyon, only about a half mile or so. The pool of water at the end of the trail was frozen, but the sky was blue and the sun warmed us as we sat on the rock ledge above. We talked of an early spring camping trip, many years ago. We were somewhere in southern New Mexico, sitting beside a campfire along the Rio Grande. Despite the fire in front of us, and the distant light of a few million stars over our heads, we were colder than we'd ever been. And there had been some cold nights. One night up at Natural Bridges, here in Utah, was a very close second. It was the middle of May, but in the high desert the nights can get cold long after the days start heading into summer.

Yesterday, I rested my hiking bag on a rock, laid down on my back on the smooth red rock and basked in the warm glow of the sunlight on my face. It was a perfect winter afternoon.



Later, on the drive home, with JB at the wheel, the car bending into curve after gentle curve along the Colorado River, I turned my head toward the window, leaned back, closed my eyes, and felt the sun sparkling off my face. And I thought:  it really doesn't get any better than this.





These are my own photos and will continue to be, unless noted.

23 comments:

  1. Love the blue sky and the red rock.

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  2. I am enjoying your photos, I have never seen anything like this landscape and the rock art is very spiritual. It's as though they are speaking from the past. I think this must have their story left for future generations.

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  3. Loved this posting, Teresa, and especially the photos! Your words say it best: "It doesn't get any better than this."

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  4. Great story and pics. I like the wall art, the legend and pride they evidently portrayed.You are not missing much here, it was 7 when I got up.

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  5. Linda, It is a nice combination, isn't it?

    Marilyn, The spiritual aspects to the pre-historic people here is a large part of the draw for me. Yes, I believe there is that impulse, as well, telling stories for future generations.

    George, Yes, it was as perfect a moment as one can experience. Thanks for your comment.

    Steve, Thank you. It's a tad cold here, like home almost, but the days have their compensations... Stay warm!

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  6. I just love the colors, always have... I love looking at petroglyphs. They cause me to wonder. I look around the area, realize that they were standing right there, creating these pics...and I simply wonder. Was one person off by themself creating? A tribal historian/teacher? One person did it or several? Sometimes,it's like a flash, I could imagine being there at the time it was made...like some kind of veil was briefly lifted. Yep, it's a spiritual place!

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  7. Lynn, I completely understand and have had similar experiences. It's wonderful, isn't it, that feeling that I refer to as ancient recognition? Thank you for sharing your thoughts about them.

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  8. Oh, I can feel the warmth of the day, those red rocks are wonderful and give me inspiration for my clay work. Love the petroglyphs especially the deer and the group holding hands. what a great trip. That's a nice hiking bag you have, may I ask where you got it?

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  9. Hi Linda, My friend, JB, is a potter and has created small bowls with the petroglyphs on them, along with his own rock carvings, recreating their symbols and images. You could have a great time with these with your clay.

    I got the bag several years ago at the Tesuque Pueblo Flea Market north of Santa Fe. It was made in Ecuador - El Chasqui is the name of the maker. It's wool and is the perfect bag for hiking. I'm glad you like it.

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  10. I've been to that flea market numerous times and have never seen such a beautiful hiking bag. I'm gonna find me one and rid myself of my blue nylon one...humpf!!!

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  11. Hey Lynn, Must have the proper accoutrements... :)

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  12. Such powerful photos and thoughts from your journey. I can feel the warmth gathering in the rock faces along Potash. The petroglyphs talking through time. Thank all the powers for that creative need to make marks and leave a trail saying, "we were here." Travel on. Absorb the sun. Warm your spirit.

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  13. Thanks so much, Chris, for your beautiful encouragement.

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  14. Oh my gosh, Teresa, the photos are gorgeous and you know what? I am so glad your are where you need to be and again a new perspective on life...sometimes it does require a change of scenery and such beauty to remind us that life is good...
    take good care!

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  15. Thank you, Tracy. This is the perfect place for me to be right now.

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  16. Very nice post, I felt as if I were traveling along with you. I was intrigued by the petroglyphs in your photographs. Either I saw these exact symbols embedded in rock, or they are just like ones that I witnessed many years ago. Exactly where were these? Anyways, Native Americans frequently portrayed "the family of man" in relation to their natural world, a true celebration of human integration as part of their environment. We certainly could use a little of that these days.

    Thanks for sharing this with us.

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  17. Hi Bill, These symbols are found in many different panels, but these particular ones are on the road called Potash just outside Moab. Kane Creek Road runs along the other side of the Colorado, which also has several panels along it. I've studied "rock art" through the years and read about it in many different books. They never fail to fascinate me. I've photographed many in remote canyons, too, and, yes,the symbols tend to always include nature, whether it's birds, goats, other animals, or insects. That integration you speak of is part of what has long drawn me to them and is a large part of my own life. I feel if we could better understand, and have a deeper respect for, the symbiotic relationship of all life, it would help us find healing for ourselves and our planet. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your thoughts.

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  18. Such a happy, warm post! I could feel the sun shining! And I too love your bag!

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  19. Thanks, Kittie! good to hear from you again. It sounds like you had a wonderful Christmas back in New Orleans.

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  20. rock art! that's what i call my jewelry.

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  21. I very much enjoyed this post, Teresa. Aren't petroglyphs amazing? I could just feel the sun on my face, too, through your eyes. So happy that you are enjoying yourself as you wander through those ancient places. Lovely.

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