|Paper||Canyon Country Zephyr|
|Rights||In Copyright (InC)|
|Rights Holder||Tonya Auden Stiles, Moab, Utah|
|Publisher||Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah|
|Paper||Canyon Country Zephyr|
REMEMBERING THE LAST MILLENNIUM A thousand years ago, life on the Colorado Plateau was so different. And so very much the same. By Rick Best It happened in a place that, for the people involved, was the center of the universe. A place of red sandstone, pine forests, black mountains, and deep canyons. A land crossed by two mighty rivers, where summers burned hot and winter blew cold and bitter. of freshly cooked food. There was an air of optimism in the town because the ceremony marking the shortest day had taken place, and indeed the days were again getting longer. Despite the cold, there was the promise of spring. The priests in the kiva had said it, and The creator had put them here to test them, and in the countless winters that had passed, they sure enough, each day was a bit longer than the day before. "It’s pretty amazing, isn’t it?" No Teeth said to his mother as they stacked corn in the small granary that belonged to his mother’s family. had proved their mettle, and lived by the rules and dictates that their ancestors had passed on to them. They were the faithful followers, the keepers of the good laws, and the inheritors of a prosperous land. In the canyons, the villages and towns were numerous. This universe was a big place full of people, with some living in large, densely populated cities where walls, structures, and activity dominated their lives. Others lived in rural backwaters, where the old beliefs and habits died hard. But all were united by the way of life that had been given to the people at the beginning of time, when all had emerged from the sipapu, and the command "Yes, I suppose it might seem amazing. But really, I see it as something that accrues to those who do as the holy people have commanded.” his mother responded. "Well I suppose. But not everyone follows those rules and commandments," No Teeth continued. "I remember all those stories about what happened to the towns and people who defied the holy people. With all the crazy people in this town who do evil and such, maybe such terrible things will happen here." to migrate until the appointed time was given to the people. The corn, the fields, the kivas, "That's always possible, but you shouldn’t be so pessimistic." Antelope woman replied. and the ceremonies marked them as a favored people, beloved by their creator. "You know how they say that the basic nature of humans is always the same, and is the source of our problems. But it can also be the source of good things, and that’s what you should focus on. Don’t waste time worrying about witches and evildoers. That’s what leads to bickering and destruction, just like what happened at Grinding Stones Village." No Teeth sat up with renewed interest. The story was out that a nearby town had been 482g ¥21y sIp2s9 o1oqd polarized by arguments over ceremonial activity and accusations of witchcraft. The latest gossip now said that everyone had left the town because of the bitter acrimony. "That’s just crazy. Everything was going fine, except for all the arguments between the kiva societies over who was right and wrong. Is it true that the whole town is empty now?" At Standing Rocks Village, the early light of the sun slanted down into the alcove, diffusing as it passed through the columns of smoke coming from houses and kivas in town. Although the sun was bright and the sky clear, it was bitter cold, deep into the winter time, when the winter people held sway over town affairs. The land slept in preparation for the exertion of spring and summer, when the corn would grow and life would be abundant. Among the jumble of walls, doorways, and courtyards in the middle of the town, Crusty Man emerged from his house, wrapped in a turkey feather robe, and sat down next to the small cooking fire in the courtyard between the house and the granary. His young son No Teeth sat close by, wiping his eyes sleepily and waiting for the corn cakes to be done. "Old father, what was it that led you to build such a small fire last night? There were no clouds as the sun set, so any fool could see that it would be cold!" "Well, No Teeth, had a certain young man been a bit more concerned about firewood rather than putting in time hanging out at the grinding room and chatting with girls, there might have been a bigger fire." Crusty Man knew of his son’s nascent maturity, and his newfound interest in society and the company of women, and although his son bristled at any teasing, he couldn’t resist the chance to poke a bit at his boy’s ego. "Oh father! Just stop!" No Teeth pulled his cotton blanket around his shoulders, and walked briskly toward the house. Teasing this early in the morning was not something he was ready for. Crusty Man smiled, watching his boy walk away. He admired his handsome son, remembering him as the infant who seemed to take an awfully long time to grow teeth. "Look! Crusty Man’s boy has no teeth yet! What's taking him so long? Don’t you feed that kid?" The other people in the village had quickly noted the boy’s lack of dentition, and immediately tagged him with the name No Teeth. But now he was approaching manhood, and growing in skill and knowledge about his universe. As he watched and reminisced, his wife stepped through the doorway and into the courtyard. "What's on your mind this morning? You have that funny look on your face." she inquired. She beamed at him, enjoying herself and the fine crisp morning that put a happy As the walls of the town warmed up with the rising sun, the rumble and hubbub of human activity also increased. Children ran and played, babies cried, and people talked and chatted. The air was heavy with the scent of burning juniper and pinion, and the smell of freshly-cooked food. "Yes. That’s what the traders who passed through a few days ago said. It’s hard to believe, but these things happen, and they have happened for a long time. You might not believe it, but there was a time when this town wasn’t here." "Oh ma, I realize that it’s true, but hard to believe. EverythingI know is here, or from here. But in the kiva, they talk about where the clans used to live, and how they came to this place, and even though I hear the words, I just find it hard to believe that this town is some sort of temporary thing. It seems like it could last forever!" "Yes, the town seems so solid, but the walls are just walls. Without people, there is no life. And if the people in a town stray from the right way of living, what else is to be expected?" Antelope Woman lifted the granary door into place, and ran a securing stick through the two loops that protruded from the wall on either side of the door. She then jammed a rock between the slab door and the stick, and reached down for a small pot that contained mud. "Go on, boy. Take the corn into the house. I'll finish here." The day continued bright and clear. People moved purposefully, coming and going, descending the narrow path that led into the canyon bottom, walking the trail to the spring, continuing out to where the fields were and beyond for firewood, and enjoying the passage ofa pleasant winter day. As the sun began its descent, voices cried out excitedly. Traders were approaching. A band of men and women dressed in winter robes moved up the canyon bottom towards the town. On their backs were bundles and packs, no doubt loaded with neat and interesting things. No doubt they would have good stories to tell as well. It would be a great evening in town. "Hey, trail walkers! Welcome to Standing Rocks! Where have you come > from?" "Ah, we've been walking up from Wide Valley Town, where we were for a few days.” replied one of the traders. They were weary but glad at the sight of Standing Rocks. The thought of fresh hot food and good company quickened their steps. They climbed the sandstone ledges that led to the entrance into the town. In the plaza, people gathered and the noise of conversation rose as the traders laid out their goods and settled down for business. No Teeth and his parents joined the fray, looking over the pots, jewelry, stones, and other tempting merchandise. "Ma, look at the wild designs on these pots! Nobody here paints them up like this!" No Teeth held up a brilliantly decorated canteen. "Ah, there are reasons why they don’t, my boy. Those designs are way too vain and outlandish. Such lack of discipline is sure to displease the holy people. You can’t just "Ah, just watching that boy. Although he’s really not such a boy anymore. I just feel like it’s all going by a bit too fast. I want to enjoy him, before he heads out and gets busy create all these images and symbols without regard to what they mean." Antelope woman placed the canteen back in front of the trader. "It’s true that some think such daring designs are trouble, but in Wide Valley Town, these pots are very popular, and things seem to be going well there." The trader held up two painted bowls to Antelope woman. "Hey, is it true that nobody lives at Grinding Rocks Village anymore?" No Teeth asked. and married and tied up with life." The trader raised his eyebrows, and others standing nearby cocked their ears to hear the spin on the day at hand. She brushed her hair away from her face, and reached her hand out to his. "You are too worried about such things. Don’t be in such a hurry to see him off yet! He’s still our boy, and for now he lives here." Antelope woman set a bow! down in front of Crusty Man, and he smiled as he pondered breakfast and good company. Antelope woman reached her arm around her man and gave him a quick hug. "Besides, even though he struts and swaggers like some big hero, he’s still just a kid. When he’s ready to go, we can cry and carry on and nag like all good parents." She sat down beside him in the courtyard and began to eat. As the walls of the town warmed up with the rising sun, the rumble and hubbub of human activity also increased. Children ran and played, babies cried, and people talked and chatted. The air was heavy with the scent of burning juniper and pinon, and the smell gossip. "Im sure the word is out now that all the families have left." the trader replied. "Too bad about that; we used to stop there often, but things had gotten so tense. We figured something like that would happen. Makes you wonder about life when a whole town falls apart. It’s not a good sign." Men and women listening to the story nodded solemnly, then went back to bargaining and shopping. As the sun rode low in the winter sky, the family reclined in the courtyard next to a small fire. "Ma, I know you don’t like it, but I think this canteen is really good looking." No Teeth turned the canteen in his hands and admired the intricate pattern painted into its surface.