Sunday, March 17, 2013

Dry thoughts at the bottom of a canyon

Recently I hiked down the trail to the White House at Canyon de Chelly and took this photograph of the cliff dweller ruins, left by the Anasazi. Some forty Navajo families live in the valley these ancient Pueblo people used to occupy.

The Anasazi emerged well before the Common Era (some say in the 12th century BCE), and lasted well into the 13th century CE. No doubt their way of life seemed utterly permanent to them, whatever they might have endured personally. Our way is the world, and nothing can change that.

If they did think that, they were wrong. All that remain are ruins in Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. Drought and warfare may have finished them off – I’m far too ignorant to even hazard a guess. But I stood before the ruin, took my photo, and wondered, where did they go?  They were here and now they are not.

On the drive to the park, we traveled through miles of parched land, all thinly watered by oversubscribed rivers and dwindling snowpack.  If the scientific projections hold true, the entire US southwest will find it impossible to meet its water needs.  Many people will have to move, if they can, or endure in place. 

Meanwhile, it was a long hike back up the trail. 

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