Early Monday morning the sky over the trading post was a vision of blueberries and cream, with mile-high thunderheads tumbling across the vaulted heavens. The clouds accumulated and darkened with a temptuous promise of much needed moisture. As they skated across the sky, the thunderheads were torn into ragged remnants by unseen updrafts, only to reform in a continuous game of hide and seek. The filtered light of the brilliant sun backbit the clouds, adding a rich, milky outline to the pregnant formations.
Coyote and Badger Folk Art
Directly up valley to the east, between the red rock cliffs and the shadowed landscape, I noticed a heavy, deep purple downpour. The torrent drenched that portion of the parched earth in a deluge of heavenly, liquid life. Such a scene must have been the inspiration for the Navajo story of the birth of Coyote and Badger. As the story is told, earth and sky reached out to each other in a passionate embrace. This mating spawned opposites, children that are fundamentally different, yet compatible and necessary to each other.
As I watched, the interactive movement of light and shadow between earth and sky created the illusion of an erratic pulse upon the landscape. This subtle heartbeat gave me an underlying feeling of contentment and enrichment. At the same time the possibility of a lightning strike, flood, the scouring winds and/or an ear crunching crack of thunder made me a little anxious at the thought of the damage they might do. Stoic juniper and cottonwood trees stirred and shifted, as if attempting to track the seductive cloud formations across the sky. The sage, rabbit brush and clumps of golden grass all seemed to reach higher and stand taller in an effort to call down the nourishing but abusive thunderstorm.
Standing upon the cap rock above the trading post later that evening provided an impressive view to the north and west of town. The blueberries and cream sky scape was similar to the scene earlier that morning, only darker and richer with the recent sunset. There was a magnificent light show over the Bears Ears on Elk Ridge and the towering peaks of Blue Mountain. Lightning bolts scratched the sky and tapped the canyon rims and mesa tops with spectacular, raggedy bolts made up of varying combinations of red, orange and yellow discharges of atmospheric electricity. I could almost smell the fire and brimstone in the air circulating about me.
As the evening deepened, the cloud base floating over the mountains grew like a living thing. The ominous, now pitch black, clouds gathered about in a huge, billowy formation, and lightning sparked through and around it until it looked like something from a sci-phi flick. It was alive with electricity, and the lightning gave it essence and new dimension at every strobe-like stroke.
Witnessing the incredible power and visual stimulation of the storm helps me understand why the early Navajo people deified various aspects of the natural world. There is wonder, majesty, dynamic potency, along with angst and duress, within the various aspects of thunder, lightning and moisture produced by such an occurrence. Without scientific explanation, the people grew to embrace that which they loved, and feared, most. That helped explain all aspects of the human condition. Nature was given power over life and death, and was elevated above all else. The sun, moon, earth, sky and all associated events were granted the responsibility of all creation.
Being on the fringe of such a dynamic display gives me a great respect for what nature provides. Not only life and sustenance in a physical sense, but in an emotional sense as well. What I now visualize as blueberries and cream with a dash of excitement was once viewed in a completely different perspective. The imagination of these primitive yet thoughtful people gave them a common sense approach to explaining the world around them. It gave them promise and hope. Many of life's great questions were approached in this manner. The answers? Well, there lies our personal quest of discovery.
With Warm Regards,
Barry, Steve and the Team.
Copyright 2009 Twin Rocks Trading Post