Excerpt from Showdown at Crossfire Canyon: Getting Digs In, Part 2

2016 Sept. 12 looking upstream from main beaver pond
Main beaver pond in Crossfire, upstream view

The quieter woman’s attributing the factually wrong “squeezed orange” metaphor to an archaeologist stuck in my mental craw. No archaeologist who had put in time in the area could have gone on the record with such a false statement without doing damage to their reputation. Crossfire’s own “things” amount to a treasury of archaeological information, barely tapped. Not only are there numerous significantly-sized Ancestral Puebloan sites in the sliver of the canyon I usually haunt, all containing intact sections of their archaeology, but many smaller, telltale sites surround those. Beyond that, the canyon is a puzzle of hundreds of sites, many kinds. In places, lithic and sherd scatters pepper the ground, along with whole or broken arrowheads, tools like axes or awls, or spearheads. But those are just the visible features of sites, what meets an eye with a steady gaze. The density of prehistoric occupation further extends two to four layers vertically into the ground.

And Crossfire’s not alone in sheltering such abundance. When the fight over the canyon erupted in 2007, one proposal for keeping it closed included designating it for permanent closure to OHVs and special protection because of its being a treasure house of culturally sensitive resources. When I mentioned that proposal to Winston, he retorted on that basis, the entire region qualified for closure and protection.

For years after that encounter in the canyon, whenever the “squeezed orange” phrase crossed my mind—which it did often—my curiosity tingled. A few years ago, it bothered me so much I tried googling “squeezed orange” with “archeology” and “archaeologist” but found nothing. Yet for someone who has spent decades running to the Oxford English Dictionary to examine etymologies and relic usages of words and phrases, the striking image had the redolence of a linguistic mystery hinting at a meaningful and important social provenance. “Squeezed orange” seemed to have a story to tell. I wanted to listen, to put it together, if I had to, but in the mid-twenty-tweens, new personal circumstances arose that demanded attention and elbowed the question aside, as similar conditions had done many times and for many years before. Continue reading “Excerpt from Showdown at Crossfire Canyon: Getting Digs In, Part 2”

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Field Notes #11: Winter Solstice 2010, Part Five

Parts one, two, three, and four.

The mid-sized Ancestral Puebloan site sitting up on that €œerosional layer of lower strata € (love that phrase) of Crossfire’s east cliffs is one of my favorites because of the serene view it offers down-canyon.   From what I’ve seen of that portion of Crossfire, including about a mile or so of what lies below the €œNo Drive Zone, € the farther south the canyon runs the wider it opens out and the higher the cliffs soar above its floor.   This Pueblo II-Pueblo III site’s impressive field of view takes in several of the canyon’s other ruins, including the first site across canyon that the archaeologist and I visited and, possibly, the tower. An ATV trail, badly eroded now as its illegality has come clear and nobody wants to risk keeping it up, crosses this site and runs onto the mesa east of Crossfire.   Sometimes I climb just above the ruin and sit on a flat rock jutting from the canyon wall out of which the trail was carved.   It’s nice up there, the size of the place intimates itself more deeply, and I feel the canyon’s inclusiveness fold me in. Continue reading “Field Notes #11: Winter Solstice 2010, Part Five”

Field Notes #11: Winter Solstice 2010, Part Two

Part One below on the “Home” page or click here.

As the archaeologist and I pushed uphill through sage and rabbit brush, he stopped to explain, quite diplomatically and in precise language, that he was in the canyon doing work pursuant to the BLM’s weighing a county government proposal to establish an ATV right-of-way through Crossfire, length to be determined.   Having lately become one of the canyon’s resident creatures, I found this information intriguing. Continue reading “Field Notes #11: Winter Solstice 2010, Part Two”