The Reading Room
Pg 5 - The Sunshine Express
anthropormorpic figure's bodies are elongated
or triangular, some with and some without ex-
tremities but embellished with lines. None have
faces. Some have birdlike head-dresses, a few of
I have lived in many different areas throughout
the deer on the panel appear to be running while
Colorado. Each and every one had its distinct
look at a lab sample of avian flu that escaped its con-
others have heads down as if grazing. A big
geologic formations and history. However, none
trolled experimental confines.
horned desert sheep stands frozen in time.
can match this land. This land of ancestral Rocky
I was never really at a point in my life when I suf-
At yet another site the multitude of images cover
Mountains with exposed precambrian roots, red
fered from parental embarrassment. In fact, as the
the Wingate sandstone walls and extend down
rock canyons, twisted sandstone and massive salt
product of a single-parent home, it always struck
disappearing beneath red earth. Standing in
deposits remains from ancient seas. Twenty five
me as odd that my siblings wished for less attention
the silence my eyes focus on anthropormorphs
thousand years ago this desert southwest was a
from my mother, a working parent of three who had
circling one lone figure with arm extended
cool rainy place of great forests and rolling plains.
so little opportunity to spend time with her kids any-
as though waving to me. Time passes as in a
Not. . . an empty place, mammoths, mastodon, sa-
way. With me, though, it was probably more a case
daydream. Who created these worlds carved
ber tooth cats, cave bears, wolves, camels and giant
of my mother being embarrassed by me...a wavy-
in stone, hunting parties, travelers, Shamans?
bison were at home here.
haired dweeb with big glasses who had a propensity
Where in time did they come from? What does it
Human life-way began on the Colorado Plateau
to wear a long coat and scarf, somehow confusing
all mean, proactive magic, ceremonial, religious?
with the migration of primitive stone age man
the London Fog look with the "Look what I found in
I do not know. At that very moment the breezes
about 6400 years BC. The animals left their foot-
the free bin in the corner of the thrift store" look.
dancing down the canyon carries whispers of
prints embedded in stone. Primitive Man left his
After my whispered interaction with my own son, I
ancient life to my ears, the laughter of children,
mark on stone boulders and red rock canyon walls
was reminded of the story my mother-in-law tells of
heavy toned voices of tribal elders, low murmur
an outdoor museum where my husband and I slip
when she would be a substitute teacher in the class-
of women grinding grain; the Old Ones.
away to occasionally.
room of her daughter (now my wife). Upon first
(Karen Schafer currently lives and writes in
Leaving the highway far behind our jeep follows a
contact in the classroom, the substitute would look
faint trail leading across sage covered flats back to
adoringly at her daughter, then say something to the
massive Wingate Sandstone walls. It is here we find
effect of, "Oh, look at you...what a little cutie! Your
the footsteps of the "Old Ones" ancient peoples
mom and dad must be really good-looking people!"
MUM (OR DAD) IS THE WORD
who left images of their lives carved in stone.
So, upon determining the appropriate time and con-
"Daddy, you're embarrassing me," whispered my
Petroglyphs are made by removing some of a rock
text in which to embarrass your offspring, my advice
elder son into my ear, well away from the percep-
surface. The most common way is by pecking small
is to use age-appropriate humor to get the job done.
tion of his nearby third grade classmates. I was
holes with a sharp chisel like tool against the sur-
"Age-appropriate", in this case, can be interpreted as
sitting in on a school day with him, trying to get
face while striking the tool with a hammer stone.
utilizing material that is of maximum humiliation at
"a day in the life" insight into his approach to
At the Paradox Valley petroglyph sites are human
a particular stage in life. For my elder son, it was the
figures (anthropormorphs), geo-metric patterns,
buzzword "underwear". For your 17-year-old son,
"I know," I whispered through a not-so-subtle
some abstract incise lines (very primitive), various
bringing his new girlfriend home for an obligatory
smile, "That's why I'm here."
animals, butterflies, insects, lizards, animal tracts
meeting with mom and dad, it may mean break-
It has to be an assumed duty of almost every par-
and some patterns that fit into a category I have
ing out the photos of your son when he was 2 years
ent, periodically, to embarrass his or her child. In
heard labeled "don't know".
old, running through the sprinklers in the backyard
this case, the violation that warranted the low-
This strip of earth, on this terrestrial sphere, we feel
when his "big boy pants" accidentally fall around his
volume reprimand was a passing remark that in-
called to is home to ten petroglyph sites. Some host
ankles. For your 14-year-old daughter, it may mean
cluded the word `underwear'. I don't even recall
room sized boulders blanketed with animal tracts.
instituting a "random polka moment" on family
what the exact nature of the remark was, although
Identified are deer, elk, buffalo, mountain lion, and
I suspect my son remembers it still.
bear. One great sized boulder has deer, lines that
Keep in mind, though, that embarrassment may be a
My son is very patient with me. I have always
appear to be trails and anthropomorphs hammered
two-way street. Shortly after my son whispered his
believed that he shares my good humor and good
reprimand to me, his teacher asked the students to
sportsmanship. This kid, who as a toddler had
My special site requires a short hike beyond a stone
choose a book for "reading time". I was well im-
such a large bald head that we often mistook him
scattered wash and partway up the mountain to the
pressed when my son showed me his book of choice,
for the state capitol building, did not have strong
petroglyph covered canyon walls. Here the
volume 17 of Encyclopedia Brittanica. Seconds later,
motor skills for the first
I saw him huddled up with a few of his classmates,
seven years of life, but
including a girl or two. They were giggling, looking
DID learn how to laugh
in my son's book. As I peered over the top of the
at himself as a byprod-
book, I saw the header "SEX".
uct of that. But, if he's
(Kelly Turner is the station manager at KRTZ-FM
embarrassed by me
Radio 98.7/92.1 in Cortez. www.krtzradio.com and
now, I can imagine how
he can be reached at email@example.com)
the teen years will be,
starting in four years.
"Faithless is he that says farewell
The other problem was
that I used one of the
when the road darkens."
third grade buzzwords,
- J.R.R. Tolkien
you and I view it as a
"Faith is courage; it is creative,
necessary (and occa-
while despair is always destruc-
sionally alluring) item
tive." - David S. Muzzey
of clothing (necessary
for most of us, anyway),
"Faith is putting all your eggs in
third graders don't
God's basket, then counting your
think that way. Third
graders fear the mere
blessings before they hatch."
word the same way we
- Ramona C. Carroll