We often visit about the beauty of our county, especially about the plants, flowers, and trees. That does not mean we don't appreciate the beauty of that which lies beneath that growth: dirt, rocks, fossils, and artifacts.
Growing up in those canyons at lma gave me the best opportunity any child could have to learn a lot about geology without even trying. In those days, children were not kept from playing in the dirt. In fact, we spent more time checking out various shades of dirt than we did in noting the patterns in the drapes. Those canyons held many colors of clay, all of which I enjoyed playing in, coloring with, and tasting.
I was most familiar with sand rocks because they formed the sides of some of the canyons and were all around us in many shapes and forms. They were our natural slides and were great places on which to carve our initials or draw pictures. Of course, we used harder stones to do the carving and drawing. At the time, I wasn't aware that many of those stones were really fossils or even flint left behind by the earlier settlers.
We had fossils all around us, but we usually referred to them as seashells. I don't remember hearing the word, "fossil," until after I started to school. Those shells were great fun to play with and to hunt. Beds of them could be found in certain areas, and we would dash to those areas when we needed certain shells. Many boulders throughout the canyons had fossils embedded in them and were dangerous to play around because those fossils were sharp and didn't budge when we hit our heads on them.
At one location, I spent many happy hours playing with "pretty rocks." When Mother or Grandmother would want to rest, they would take me to that particular bench so I could play with the rocks and they could nap. Those were small stones of all colors and were semi-polished as that Sun Dance Sea rolled them around with its ebbs and flows.
People who had been near oceans used to comment that they could hear the ocean roar in those canyons. I had to take their word for that until I had the chance to hear that roar for myself and could then make the same comparison. The sand was also just as fine as that on any beaches.
We also found many artifacts as we wandered though those canyons. Most of the pottery was gray and black, and most of it was in bits and pieces by the time I came along. Arrowheads were fairly plentiful in my childhood, and we played with them as much as we played with the fossils.
Those of us who call this place home are very fortunate because we are so much a part of the land that we feel very comfortable wandering around appreciating all the surrounding beauty. Let's just keep walking!
Lynn Moncus is a Tucumcari resident and can be contacted through the Quay County Sun by calling 461-1952.