By Lynn Moncus: QCS Correspondent
Easter afternoon was perfect time for Aggie and me to drive to “the canyons of home” in order to enjoy some much needed solitude and to appreciate the silence of the llano. Besides, Aggie deserved a smooth ride on pavement for a change after having been bounced all over the car the week before.
As we ambled along the canyon rim, we both relaxed in the sheer pleasure of being together while enjoying the surrounding beauty. The gentle breeze that usually plays along that rim was just right to keep us comfortable in the rather warm weather and to provide the sound of the ocean that arises from the canyon. We noted the greening of the buck brush and polecat bushes and could see a few delicate yellow wild flowers braving the drought in order to add color. We saw three antelope as we parked near the foundation of the old store and could almost feel their energy as they bounded across the pasture. As we listened to the doves cooing in the canyons, we were much aware that we were the only intruders in the area and walked softly in order to avoid further disturbance.
We paused a number of times so I could look across at the remains of Grandmother’s house and recall other Easters when our family would be together their. I had hunted my first Easter eggs in that yard about 70 years ago and had spent some of the happiest times in my life sitting in the porch swings and dreaming the dreams of childhood. By standing very still, I could feel that motion that so often put me to sleep for a few minutes in the afternoon.
As I looked at those steep canyon walls, I could picture our family crossing from our house to Grandmother’s and coming up in her yard near the gate. We would have talked and laughed along the trail, and Grandmother would have heard us coming, knowing we would head for the water bucket and grab a dipper of that fresh spring water to quench our thirsts after that last climb. She would always have something for my brother and me to nibble on while the adults drank their coffee before the main meal. On special occasions, we would arrive for breakfast and spend the rest of the day, often being joined by our Tucumcari and Nara Visa relatives, who would have bounced along the unpaved roads for several hours in order to arrive before noon. Uncle Burnace would arrive from the store in order to join in the day’s visiting.
The adults would sit around the kitchen table to talk about the latest news, and we children would roam the canyons to whet our appetites at first and to get away from the adult after the meals. The two boys would get as far away from us four girls as possible because they had their scouting to do while we rang the canyons with our giggles. If we became too quiet, one of our parents would give a shout to be sure all was , and we would reply from whatever rock upon which we were perched. Usually, we were up to no good, such as riding the milkpen calves after having been warned not to go near them.
In the later afternoon, the traveling relatives would leave, and we would remain to eat the leftovers and listen to the news on the radio before returning across the canyon to our house. Often, my dad and brother would have wandered over earlier to do the chores before dark and returned to enjoy the rest of the evening. By the time we crossed that canyon after the 9:00 news, we were all ready for a good night’s rest and didn’t even take time to light the lamp.
Yes, the echoes still ring in those canyons and can be heard by those of us who knew and loved that place so much.