Sunday, November 4, 2007

Black Mesa, San Ildefonso, NM

At it's most prosaic, it's called a "lava plug." Some millions of years ago, it formed during an immense volcanic event strewed lava over some 1000 square miles of what is now northern New Mexico, and spewed ash and gas all over the world. It emerged as water flowed down the so-called Rio Grande Rift, and the winds blew, and the seasons changed.

As a poetic representation, it occupies a central place in the legends and myths of the several pueblos to which it is adjacent or at least proximate. According to the story at San Ildefonso, on the east side of the River, on which land the Mesa stands, it is the dead heart of a famously cruel and ravenous Giant. The Giant terrorized the People for long years, demanding the sacrifice of their young children to feed his appetites. Finally a set of Holy Twins was borne to the Pueblo, who knew it was their destiny to kill the Giant. When they were of an appropraite age to propitiate the Giant, the Holy Twins went out of the Pueblo and went to the Giant. They were small, and he swept them up and consumed them in a single bite, so swiftly that he didn't even chew the morsels; just swallowed them whole. This was what the Twins had planned on, and they bore with them sharp knives. With them they set about to slice up the Giant from within. In a few hours, they had cut their way out. In the process, they climbed his ribs and stabbed him in the heart. They led the lost children back to the People, and the heart of the Giant remained to remind the People of the gift of the Twins.

That's the way I heard it, anyway.

And this time of year, there are fewer more beautiful places to watch the flow of Autumn down the Rio Grande than on the Santa Clara highway on the west side of the River, when the afternoon sunlight turns the ground almost as golden as the leaves in the tops of the cottonwoods at the riverside.

Probably, it was best 10 days or two weeks ago. It's even more beautiful if there's been an early snow in the Sangres.


Alexandra said...

I love your blogs, Woody. Thanks for the pictures and history of that area of New Mexico. It is being home for a while to me.

Woody, Tokin Lib'rul/Rogue Scholar & O'erall Helluvafella said...

Alexandra, it is my pleasure to blog about NM. I do love it...Thanks for liking it...