Wiley, the Midget Coyote, and She took a break in their routine to hike in Closed Canyon along the Rio Grande del Norte.
“Wow! This is a neat place!”
“Yup. Canyons, like many land forms, are like books. When you open a book in the middle and read the two flanking pages, you might wonder just how the story led there and where it goes. You might thumb through previous pages, or perhaps those leading to the end. Unless you read all the pages, you are left with pieces of narrative, dialogue and pictures that lie in wait for the whole story. That is what canyons are.
Canyons are slices in the upper layers of the planet we live on. Yet these levels we see were once buried deep in the earth’s crust, flowed from places far away, or crashed into by other layers and heaving them up. As in Santa Elena Canyon, there may be bumpy levels of stone made of accumulated bodies of minute sea animals. Or, as in Closed Canyon, they might be hard sleek cliffs of what was once flowing molten rock.
In essence, Wiley, canyons are open books, their steep cliffs pages of time and accumulated activity, far far greater than we can imagine. Layers of differential stone and rock, colors and form, tell us pieces of stories, events long before mammals and humans walked the surface. Remains of living entities that precede us may lie in wait to provide a dialogue enriching the story. Canyons talk to you if you listen.”
Wiley stood still. “Well, I hear things, but not sure what canyons talk like. Do they growl like me? Yip? Grunt like Josephine? This is like my Home where I was a pup. Sort of.”
“The canyon is a bit different than those you remember, aren’t they?”
“Yup. This one is only big enough for two of us coyotes to run in side-by-side.”
“It’s called a slot canyon, Wiley.”
“Hey, remember I am ‘Coyote‘!”
Sigh. “Yes, Wiley; you are that, too.” She and Wiley sat on a big boulder.
Wiley took a deep breath and then……. “Okay, so this is my turn to tell a story. They say….. Are you writing this down? I can’t hear talking pages, you know.”
“I am writing your story, Wiley. I will read aloud the talking pages to you so you can hear them.”
They say this is the way it was, long ago. When Sky Woman fell from Sky World and down towards the Great Water world, Turtle saved her. He swam underneath her and she fell on his back.
When she did, Turtle’s feet pushed mud up underneath him so they would both not drown. The mountains, valleys and oceans formed underneath them. Where his claws dug into the mud, water flowed and they grew into rivers. So the world grew from Turtle’s back, the mud underneath him, and Sky Woman’s songs.
Some of those claw marks in the mud lost their water. Some are narrow, like this here, and some are wider, like those where I grew up. Yet, when waters fall from Sky World and call on Turtle and Sky Woman below, that water will run through these gashes in the mud that is now rock. They look and search for Turtle and Sky Woman. And they take pieces of the rock mud with them when they go. That is how they remember how this world was created.
That was how it happened, they say. A long time ago.”
“That was a good nature story, Wiley.”
“What is this ‘nature’ ? What do you mean?”
“It is many things. It is the water in the well that was there before any of us came to be. It is also the bucket into which we put things, or ‘the’ things we call ‘Nature’. And it is a leaky bucket.”