It has been a couple of relatively quiet weeks here in the Gila, so I will just share a few photos of recent stuff. The saddest news that almost everyone knows of is of the 19 firefighters who died fighting wild fires in Arizona. So many of the young firefighters (average age 22) come to the Cliff Dwellings on their days off from fighting the nearby Silver Fire. The firefighters are always so cute when they stop by the visitor center picking out Zuni-made earrings for their sweethearts and sometimes for themselves, too. Male or female, they always put on their earrings and ask how they look!
Since I have not been at work the last 3 days I am not sure whether recent rains have quenched the Silver Fire. It had grown to just over 125,000 acres last weekend. After reading “Fire Season” I understand the US Forest Service philosophies of fire fighting better. As the Silver Fire is burning in the wilderness with 100+ years of forest debris fueling it, it is probably in general a “good thing”. Apparently unless the fire is threatening people and homes the forest service is more likely to let the fires burn themselves out. Since naturally started fires (e.g. by lightning) occur at least once every decade, nature’s way is best. The litter needs to burn before it accumulates to the point where it burns so hot it destroys old growth trees (as it is doing now!). Other plants sometimes need fire to open the seeds, etc. and the cycle of life continues. It takes us people a long time to learn our lessons from nature.
Below, pledging in new Junior Rangers and a pretty lizard on the trail:
One of the “dig days” was simply doing surface collection. John Heisey referred to it as legalized pot hunting! It is a tool used by archeologists to see if a site has potential for a dig at a later time. Here is a lousy photo of a lovely little parrot head bead and a small arrow point. I did not get a photo of an exciting big spear point blank. Perhaps Aaron will dig here next year. . .
My favorite agave – the Havard Agave on the way into Silver City:
A chilling day at the camp!! I was minding my own business when a caterpillar as large as my finger with a wasp attached dropped out of the cottonwood tree to the ground inches from me. The wasp was killing the caterpillar and the caterpillar was thrashing around wildly for almost 2 minutes before the it succumbed. I never saw the wasp use its stinger – just biting it!. When the wasp detached and flew away, the caterpillar was clinging to a small twig which I moved away to a secure location about 18″ away from the “kill site”.
The wasp returned in a few moment and it was ANGRY!! It was buzzing around me and acting in a threatening manner, so as carefully as I could I dodged the wasp and moved the caterpillar closer to the kill site. By now the wasp was agitatedly pacing the ground looking for the caterpillar. When it finally found it, he had started from the kill site and walked the “path” to the caterpillar. The wasp was now calm and each time it flew away and returned for more, he landed at the kill site and walked the exact path to the caterpillar each time. Amazing!! It must have created a chemical trail that it followed. By the fourth trip, the caterpillar was gone! I don’t know if the wasp was filling up and regurgitating the load of caterpillar, but each time he flew away there was just a small bit of guts hanging from his mouth area.
And then there are the really slow days around camp when I take photos of the birdies and flowers that I am growing . . .
Another dig that I got to see at the Harris site – a great Kiva. If you recall what the dig site of us amateurs looked like, compare the precision of the dig below. Dr. Barb Roth (a leading archeologist) would only allow real archeologists dig at this site and now I can see why! She was excavating a great, “adults only” (i.e. – truly ceremonial) kiva which required extreme care and precision to uncover various adobe floor levels and nuances of construction that were not evident to my untrained eyes. I loved how Dr. Roth was completely covered with dirt and kept calling for more buckets as she dug! The grinning guy is Igor, who was color matching the various soils to known “standards”. I was also impressed with Dr. Roth and her team – how friendly and willing to share their knowledge!
Well, that is about it for today! I’m having friends over for pasta tonight then back to work for the July 4th weekend!