One of the many wonders to anticipate in northern Arizona is the day in late summer when the Verbesina enceliodes, Golden Crownbeard, bursts out in this brilliant vista.
A short, easy Summer loop hike from Snow Bowl Road on the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff leads to Alfa Fia Tank.
Arizona’s monsoon rains in the mountains produce a summer crop of mushrooms, toadstools, slime molds and other delights. Here are a few that have appeared already this 2014 season. I don’t know enough about fungi to attempt to identify them for you. Experts can determine if any are safe to eat, but many are deadly poison. Squirrels seem to eat some of them but I don’t know that is an indicator of human tolerance.I think they are fascinating to find.
About 237 million years ago theMoenkopi Formation rocks were deposited in a coastal plain that covered what is now northern Arizona and surrounding states. The plain ended at the shoreline of a sea in Utah. Seasonal stream beds crossing that plain deposited thick sheets of sand. Over millions of years, “another 10,000 feet of Mesozoic sedimentary rocks accumulated.”
All of these sedimentary layers have been warped, twisted and eroded, ending up being uplifted by molten lava between 70 million and 30 million years ago as a huge chunk of thick crust. This was the origin of the Colorado Plateau, a 130000 square-mile block. In time, that molten base began to erupt in the San Francisco volcanic field, creating thousands of cinder cones, long lava flows, the stratovolcano known as San Francisco Mountain, and lava domes like Mount Elden near present day Flagstaff. Volcanic activity continued, with the most recent eruption occurring in AD 1064. At that time, the Sinaguan people found that the loose cinders made a good mulch for growing crops, and they created Wupatki. They used the red Moenkopi sandstone exposed in the area along with Kaibab limestone and black basalt from the volcanic field to build substantial buildings.
Centuries later, when the railroads necessitated the creation of the town of Flagstaff, the buildings were made of wood. However, over the years the citizens learned the same lesson that many cities of the day learned, as fires consumed the town. When reconstructed, the materials of choice were identical to those of the ancients, Moenkopi sandstone, Kaibab Formation limestone and volcanic basalt.
Used copies of the Stone Landmarks are available for purchase at various booksellers. Photos are my own.
The Navajo or Diné, Nation covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. Diné Bikéyah (link), or Navajoland, is larger than 10 of the 50 states in America. The Diné in Arizona live north of the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff.
Navajo weavers (link) have long been known for their beautiful hand-woven rugs.
According to Kathy Hooker in her book, Time Among the Navajo, it takes 2 months to make a single rug. Many Navajo families raise their own sheep. After the weather warms in the Spring, the women and children will catch and shear a sheep by hand, using shears. Then the wool must be cleaned by shaking and washing in a wash tub. The wool is rinsed in cold water several times, and then washed with soap in warm water heated in a kettle on the stove. After rinsing again, the wool is hung on a fence to dry. Carding commences when the wool is dry, using wooden paddles with metal teeth to pull the wool and straighten the fibers. Typically it will take 2 weeks to card enough wool for a single rug. The batts of wool pulled from the teeth of the cards are spun into yarn using a twirling spindle. Another two weeks can be spent on spinning. Once spun into yarn, the yarn is washed again and is wrapped from one fence post to another to dry. The weaver will have planned her design which she holds in memory, and she knows what colors of yarn she needs to create that pattern. The wool may be dyed from plant dyes or some store-bought colors, especially red. For black and white, the natural wool is used. Brown is created by boiling wild walnuts. Bark, roots and fruit of other plants are used to make additional colors. It will take 3 weeks of constant work to complete the tightly-woven rug.
The weaving loom is an upright design.
No two Navajo rugs are alike. The place of origin for a rug typically determines the type of design. The Navajo Reservation can be divided into 13 weaving regions. There are other distinctive designs as well. If you wish to purchase a Navajo rug, choose a reputable dealer or trading post so that you can enjoy an authentic Navajo rug.