VOICES OF CHACO
THERE IS NO QUESTION THAT CHACO CANYON IS A MYSTERIOUS PLACE. NO
ONE KNOWS, OR WILL EVER KNOW, WHAT WAS HAPPENING THERE A THOUSAND
YEARS AGO. WHAT HAPPENS THERE TODAY, HOWEVER, CAN BE DOCUMENTED.
AFTER ARRIVING AT CHACO CANYON ON THE AFTERNOON OF THURSDAY,
SEPTEMBER 7, WE DISCOVERED A FAVORABLE CAMPSITE IN A SMALL BOX
CANYON CONNECTING WITH GALLO CAMPGROUND. AFTER WAITING OUT A
BRIEF THUNDERSHOWER, SET UP OUR “FOUR-DAY CAMP”. FOUR-DAY CAMP
RESEMBLES THE SAFARI CAMPS ONE USED TO SEE IN OLD MOVIES, WITH EVERY
LUXURY KNOWN TO MAN.
THERE WERE MANY ASPECTS OF CHACO WHICH FASCINATED ME, BUT ONE OF
THE MOST IMPRESSIVE WAS THE SILENCE. THERE IS LITTLE NOISE IN CHACO.
THE ONLY BIRDCALLS I NOTICED WERE RAVENS, AND EVEN THEY SEEMED TO BE
HUSHED MOST OF THE TIME.
I KNOW THAT CHACO WAS, AND STILL IS, CONSIDERED A VERY SACRED PLACE.
COULD IT BE THAT EVEN THE FAUNA USE THEIR TIME IN CHACO TO BE QUIET,
AND LISTEN TO GOD?
Some may recall that I've sometimes mentioned my awe at the number of people who must have lived in the Southwest in ancient times.
I have later come to realize that it's not so much that there were so many people, it's just that stone buildings last much longer than people. The people that built all those permanent structures in the southwest would stay in one place for a time, from a few hundred to nearly a thousand years. Then, for whatever reason, they'd move on to build permanent structures elsewhere. Whether or not they forgot the old places, the old places would remain, ever so gradually sinking into the land, until at some distant time, they might be discovered and "restored".
I often think, as I drive around out little town, how many structures are being built, compared to how many we once had. Our population has increased, of course, but in no way proportionate to the amount of permanent structures being spread upon the land.
We've managed to, in some ways, take control of our environment (often at the expense of the enviroment), and the need to "move on" has faded away. We now stay in one place, and build, and build, much in the same way as the ancestors, but instead of starting over in a fresh new place, we cling to our fouled nest.
I sometimes wonder if at some distant future time, there will be archaeologists who delve into our ruins and speculate on the sort of life we must have led. Will their speculations concerning our legacy be as noble as those given the people of Chaco? I really don't see how they could possibly be.