Soundscape — This song reminds me of the intimate and expressive environment at Piedras Marcadas. Quiet prevails and the delicate expressions from the past speak to us through these marked rocks. I can especially imagine standing in the canyon on a hot summer afternoon with monsoon rain clouds building and after much anticipation rain comes trickling down. The composer and conductor of this music, Eric Whitacre, is from Reno, NV. He started off as a pop band musician. He said in an interview his world went “from black and white to color” when he first heard Mozart’s Requiem rehearsed in choir practice when he was a student at UNLV.
At Piedras Marcadas Canyon at Petroglyph National Monument, Albuquerque has a global attraction where people from all over the world can come and see these intimate rock markings. The setting places us in the company of the clans of animals and people depicted in the drawings. The sense of humor imparted by these images is palpable. Petroglyphs, like music and texts, bring continuity between living things through time and space. A mysterious communication, communion through sharing of place, a touching of spirits. I walked away with a finer appreciation of what we have here.
The simplicity in the medium creates a pure and clear messaging. The park service is generous in their interpretation that no one can know, save for the maker, why these were made. But everyone can be moved by these creations and our individual responses awaken us to something we must already know inside us. These elemental drawings help us trace back to common origins.
A broad swath of history is apparent here, from deep geological changes over the millennia to more recent looting where rock surfaces were chiseled away to separate off drawings. Imagine, Mai said, what this place must have looked like before there were modern houses between this basalt escarpment and the river below! This enchanting open space enlivens vivid imaginative powers.
When exploring at Petroglyph sometimes we had to let our concentration sink in and shapes subtly emerged from the stones around us. Other times we walked into an area, stopped and looked, saw one petroglyph then another and another until it was a veritable eruption of drawings. Humor, pluralism of voices, and joy runs through all the glyphs and becomes the essence of what is being conveyed. It is something like walking through a delightful and humorous kind of haunted house outdoors underneath the desert sky. The substance of what they drew is still surrounding us.
Petroglyph National Monument tells the story of a heritage that belongs to everyone. This place takes you in when you venture outside and walk through it. What a quality keystone experience to make part of our welcome to Albuquerque adventures!