Not to sound like a ranting feminist, but Thanksgiving (overseen by women in the kitchen) has always brought me down.
It’s hard to be thankful when buying, preparing, and serving the Thanksgiving groaning board is your responsibility. It is hard to be gracious when you are one of the women in the kitchen while everyone else is off hiking, relaxing or playing bocce ball. (Go ahead! Color me small. I don’t care!)
If you catch me smiling, last week we broke the bonds that tied us to tradition. To heck with turkey and all the trimmings. Family reunions are supposed to be about family, not cooking. And so this year’s annual family reunion in Sedona was scheduled three weeks prior to Thanksgiving.
And what a brilliant idea that was! It was a great week with kids, grandkids, and six dogs. The food was family food with everyone serving himself. We ate a lot of chili, and no one complained. I was particularly happy.
No trip to Sedona is complete without a short drive to the 1890s copper mining town of Jerome: the arts, the crafts, and the old buildings clinging to a mountainside riddled with 88 miles of tunnels is well worth the trip. On a clear day, you can see forever.
Looking down is one choice; looking up is another.
As for the arts and crafts, name your price. There is something for everyone. I couldn’t afford my favorite something, but if any reader would like to surprise me with a little something, I’ll paste in a photo so you will know what I want. I’ll hang it in a west facing window so the Sangres will shine through in the background.
A second highlight on our pre-Thanksgiving was to stop at Chaco Canyon, a prehistoric ruin and a designated National Historic Park in northwestern New Mexico.
Scanning Chaco Wash, you see an arid, over-grazed inhospitable landscape. Not that the land was ever lush, but looking at the dirt-scape, try to get your head around ruins that were once three and four stories high and home to a thousand people in the years between 850 and 1250 A.D. In addition to being an ancient trading center, the complex was a ceremonial center and built with astronomical alignments in mind.
I fell in love with the audacity of the peoples who lived there. Who were they who could embrace the landscape, build their community, worship in place, irrigate the land, grow their crops, trade with other cultures, and still have time for art?
A visit to Chaco is humbling. Who are we who shop for our groceries, drive to the dentist, and rely on a contractor to build our homes?
I feel small.
If you live in Custer County, you can find the PBS video narrated by Robert Redford at our West Central Library. You are wanting to check out The Mystery of Chaco Canyon: unveils the astronomical brilliance of an ancient culture in the American Southwest.