Saturday, November 22, 2008

(4) The Ancients

Taos, itself, was an interesting place. Historically it was a town
of the Old West, put on the map by its famed citizen--Kit Carson.
But by the time I visited this fascinating place, it had become a
rather "bohemian" place, full of artists and craftsmen, literary
figures, and mystics. No doubt this trend was started back in the
earlier part of the twentieth century, when D. H. Lawrence
established a ranch in Taos. A British poet and author his most
famous book is "Lady Chatterley's Lover," which was hot stuff
back then. He lived in Taos for only a few months, but in death
he remains there! His gravesite is at his ranch.

As for Santa Fe, originally the area was occupied by a number
of pueblo villages; however, Spanish explorers arrived and
established the town in 1598. Since then it has evolved into an
artistic and cultural capitol for the Southwest. Famous for artists
like Georgia O'Keefe, for example. During my visits, I quite
enjoyed the artist's shops, the Plaza, the cathedral, and mingling
with all the interesting people who lived in this beautiful place.

But I digress, still I guess I wanted to mention some of my small
pleasures. The years at Bandelier were rolling-by, but I enjoyed
every minute roaming the park, roaming in nearby towns that
had become small gems.

As for my sense about being a park ranger, well unofficially I
realized that I had moved from being an apprentice to that of a
journeyman. Not at all attached to our GS-rating, these old
medieval titles were fun to consider--and not far from the mark.
As a journeyman, I knew that I was now a fully trained worker!

Then one day, after visiting Albuquerque, driving back, I decided
to stop off and further explore the Pecos National Historical Park.
During my time in New Mexico, I had visited Pecos several times
before; but, I never tired visiting these old places, so full of history,
that remained under the aegis of the National Park Service.

There were the ruins of the Pecos Pueblo, of the Mission church,
and there were also reconstructed kivas. On this, my last visit to
Pecos, I climbed down the ladder that took me into an underground
kiva. I stayed, pondering what it must have been like to have
attended the ancient religious ceremonies in such a place. Then
I looked up, towards the light of the open sky, and there standing
at the head of the ladder, looking down at me, was my ancient
Indian guide, dressed in the ceremonial feathers of scarlet, blue
and yellow--like those found on the Scarlet Macaw!

Again startled, but not frightened, I heard him say clearly: "Go
walk among the marching trees." Then he was gone!

Another vision, another message that I had to figure through.
About the only firm grip I had was that it was time to move on to
yet another place. I was reluctant, because I had come to love
Bandelier. But even from a practical perspective, I knew that
I was expected to move around in the park service. If nothing
else, one need apply for ever higher positions with higher
GS-ratings. That's how you moved up in your career. But what
in the world did my vision's message mean, when it came to
"marching trees"?

Months later, I found the answer.

Reviewing position announcements, I happened onto an
opening for a park ranger at the Joshua Tree National Park.
Essentially it is a "desert" park. That, in itself, did not exactly
thrill me. But what caught my eye was one of the photos
attached to the announcement, and *that* did thrill me!
The photo showed hundreds and hundreds of Joshua trees,
looking for all the world like an army of marching trees!

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