Mai and I took a trip to Pecos National Historic Park on Veteran’s Day to learn more about old traditions in this bright land. We kept a simple agenda so we had a healthy budget for quality time to explore our two main destinations, Pecos NHP and the upper Pecos river valley. After the winding drive oh Hwy 41 through Galisteo and over Glorieta Pass, we had a picnic at an outdoor table and set off to explore Pecos on foot.
The homecoming story of horses is an incredible mix of natural and human history. The Spanish reintroduced the horse in New Mexico around 1600 after a 10,000 year absence. Horses had evolved on American grasslands and migrated globally over the Bering land bridge to all over the world. Horses went extinct in North America around 8000 BCE and returned with the Spanish. Maybe the intense love for horses has some roots in this absence for so long. They are making up for lost time here. They completely transformed the lives of native peoples living in America who integrated horses into their lifeways very quickly. Horses certainly look at home on the American landscape even though they’ve been back only a few hundred years.
The Pecos Puebloans eventually moved back to the Jemez Pueblo with ancestors nearby the Rio Grande valley. This place remains sacred. The layers of history at Pecos are remarkable. From the ancient ones to the incredible mixing of cultures during the Age of Discovery to what is taking place right now, the history is deep and multistoried.
Once you stop and get out the car this place begins to work on you right away. The whisper of wind through piñon trees sets you to listening closely. A walk through the ruins trail along the remnant walls shorn by the elements over a long time send your imagination traveling. You can intuit and receive some of the wisdom that sits in these places. History comes forward as you walk and spend time here. After touring the ruins the Park Visitor’s Center has excellent interpretive resources to help us locate history through studying the landscape and exercising our historical imaginations.
It was quite extraordinary to learn about human interactions in these lands that go beyond our usual span of remembrances, but most certainly are as much a part of our history like everything else. We took the latter part of the day to drive up river into the mountains from where the water comes from and to do a little walking up there. It was cold.