Feb 21, 2009

Nature's Old Men...

Old Mans Face & Mt Tayor, HDR, New Mexico

Old Man's Face
©Joe Bridwell

"I love the place (Four Corners)," Tony Hillerman wrote of vast lands that span the northeast corner of Arizona and straddle borders of New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado. "I need only drive west from Shiprock into that great emptiness to feel my spirit lift."
One of my friends saw an earlier version of this image and wrote me, "Did you see the face in the rock of an old man with a beard; it looks like he is holding a teddy bear."
When I looked again, his face, somewhat crushed, with broken nose askew, and almost loosing a left eye beneath a stately Tam-o-Shanter, seemed to add such simple strength and a quizzical, wrinkled charm to distant Mt Taylor.  Is he a guardian of such mountain beauty?  In Anasazi lore, the teddy bear might really have been a treasured child. 

Keeper of the Gate, Cebolleta, New Mexico

Keeper of the Gate
©Joe Bridwell

Later, around a distant corner, this splendid, gnarled old tree, guarding a shrine up the road, might have been equally at home in legend’s ancient Sherwood Forest.  Could Coronado’s Conquistadores have ridden under this majestic tree, searching for Seven Cities of Gold?
Somehow, this old man and Robin Hood’s tree, guarding our past in variable tone poems, seem to speak together, "Age and grace are one - the same."  Both nature’s tree and broken rock face are wrinkled; both have survived the millennia; and each, in their unique way, is testament to age and simplicity.  Softly painting tree and face bring out their enduring longevity.

From Anasazi times, elders have gone to ground – found a quite place to pass their later years.
Our prayers are with them all…

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