Friday, October 9, 2009

Almost Fifty

Last Friday, Jana, Kira and Grange headed for Albuquerque to visit the more respectable side of the clan, so I had a little more familial freedom than usual. Consequently, when Barry and I barred the Twin Rocks Trading Post doors for the evening, I rushed upstairs and tugged on my cycling gear. It was going to be a beautiful evening, and I was feeling the pull of the pavement. Never mind that it might be dark by the time I finished; I had to get on the road.

Mother Earth & Sun Baskets

As I began the climb up Cow Canyon, I could tell my training had not been as diligent as it otherwise might have been. The breeze was, however, cool and soft, the cottonwoods golden and the rocks ablaze with early October light. It seemed clear that all the elements necessary for a great ride were falling into place. It is rare that I get to ride later in the day so, in spite of the struggle, I was smiling widely when I crested the hill.

Heading north as fast as my legs would carry me, which frankly was not very fast, I noticed the sun striding towards Comb Ridge. I was reminded of Johonaa’e, the Navajo deity responsible for carrying the sun disk across the sky each day. On this particular evening, he was blazing orange, and exhibiting all the majesty ascribed to him.

In Navajo mythology, Johonaa’e is represented as a tall, virile, handsome man with long black locks of hair. It was the union of Johonaa’e and Changing Woman that resulted in the birth of the Hero Twins, Monsterslayer and Born-for-Water. These twins were destroyers of the demons plaguing the Navajo and redeemers of their people.

Racing the sun towards White Mesa Hill, which I refer to as my personal nemesis because it is the last big climb before I make the turn home, I could see the sun would win and set long before I made it to Bluff. On the way back, about half way between White Mesa and town, Johonaa’e dropped below the horizon and Tl’ehonaa’e, the bearer of the moon, stepped onto the stage. Tl’ehonaa’e is just the opposite of Johonaa’e, and is portrayed as an elderly man with long silver hair. Tl’ehonaa’e has acquired the wisdom of the ages and is revered among the Navajo for his knowledge and experience.

As the diamonds of the desert began to ignite on the Reservation, twinkling an amber color, I could not help thinking that the setting of Johonaa’e and the rise of Tl’ehonaa’e was a perfect metaphor for this stage of my life. In less than a week, I will have been striding Mother Earth 50 years, and will begin receiving mailings from AARP. In my case, the youthful attributes of Johonaa’e have surely begun to dim, and in many cases have altogether faded. In my graying mane one would clearly recognize Tl’ehonaa’e. I am hopeful that in the preceding half century of life I have at least planted the seeds of knowledge and wisdom. What may sprout from those plantings is anybody’s guess.

As I dropped into Bluff through the rocky crag that is Cow Canyon and turned into the Twin Rocks Cafe parking lot, I noticed a group of European tourists standing on the porch. As I slowly peddled across the gravel, I heard one say in a French accent, “Mon dieu, a full moon.” Looking over my shoulder, I noticed the high cliffs behind the restaurant blocked my lunar companion from view. I sheepishly reached back and pulled down my cycling jersey. Maybe there is more Tl’ehonaa’e in me than I care to admit.

With Warm Regards,
Steve, Barry and the Team.

Copyright 2009 Twin Rocks Trading Post

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