On the weekend COVID-19 hit my town, we descended into a canyon south of its outskirts named for the friars Dominquez-Escalante. Their troop never explored this monolithic crevice, crossing the Rio del Tezon some forty miles north-east, but the mythos of destruction claims much of the barren West. I wonder if aisle fourteen of the supermarket back home will suffer a similar fate? Two crows guard the trailhead, harbingers of a destiny inescapable. Even here life has retreated to some secret refuge from the coming storm. It is only us, the whistle of riverbank grass, the eroded boulders of a dry inland ocean. The quiet. We march on looking for the remnants of a people delivered by coyote. Sinawav has escaped through his hole in the heavens. On a boulder face, hidden behind juniper and sage, petroglyphs portray a mural of past abundance. Melted snow-capped mountains run across its length giving life to a forest of horned ungulates, bear prowls the periphery, the sun follows a reassuring arc. Did they record this breadth of life in anticipation of its demise? Did they know the white man would bring his disease back then, and now? How strange to panic about our history.
March 15, 2020