69 On the Cusp of Thunder, Arizona

(Image, March 2003 © 2005 M. Childers)

The translation of the Navajo word Tse' yi' for this place means Canyon Rocks. When Europeans first tried to pronounce the Navajo word then spell it with their alphabet, the name became warped into De Chelly, which for all practical purposes doesn’t mean much in anyone’s language. Places take on so many different meanings. For tourists, it is another photo opportunity to picture themselves against the canyons many faceted rims—something to show their family and friends. For the Navajo, it’s a sacred place where their ancestors lived for hundreds of years in peace only to be forced into a valiant and bitter stand against Mexican solders in the battles of Canyon del Muerto, seen here at the Junction as the striped canyon moving off into the distance. Riding on the fringe of great weather, between hail, rain, snow, and sunlight, this place has yielded up some of the most awesome storm shows I’ve ever seen. I am touched by all the human stories yet something atavistic runs even deeper—an inexplicable passion for the truth of the Nature that is.